Pick your favorite reason: media bias, "old boys club", a poor voting process ...
The Tampa Bay Lightning organization will leave Las Vegas without any major hardware for the first time since 2009, after losing out on Calder, Vezina, Jack Adams, and (ahem) Lady Byng nominations.
The show itself was a debacle in general, hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos and featured a weird assortment of Vegas stereotypes, extraneous musical asides, and poorly constructed or obvious jokes.
That wasn't too surprising. The NHL Awards have pretty much always been an uncharacteristically gaudy and superfluous event for an otherwise dour, humorless league.
But, to be honest, the Tampa Bay Lightning -- who had won an award every year since 2009 -- leaving the night without any awards despite four nominations wasn't much of a surprise, either, with deserving candidates in every category ultimately taking home each respective prize.
As expected, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche took home the Calder Trophy, in a bit of landslide as he received 130 of 137 1st place votes. Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson finished 2nd and 3rd in the voting, respectively, and also each received Selke Votes (Palat finished 8th, Johnson 19th). Palat and Johnson were also named to the NHL's all rookie team:
#tblightning Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson each named to NHL All-Rookie Team along with MacKinnon, Krug/Lindholm as D and F Anderson as G— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) June 25, 2014
Duncan Keith took home the Norris Trophy for top defenseman, and while Victor Hedman wasn't officially nominated for the award, he did receive one 1st place vote, one 2nd place vote, five 4th place votes, and 10 5th place votes, finishing 9th overall. If he gets a small uptick in overall 5v5 time on ice and continues to be a presence on the top power play unit for the Bolts moving forward, he'll be a serious contender for the Norris as soon as next season.
The Jack Adams award went to Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy, raising serious questions about how closely voters are paying attention. The Avs were a bottom-5 possession team this year -- only the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Buffalo Sabres were worse, and the Avs rode some very hot goaltending from Semyon Varlamov and timely scoring from a good forward group to overcome some serious deficiencies (with a 102.2 PDO, 3rd in the league, to boot). Jon Cooper finished 3rd in the voting with just five 1st place votes.
Like Hedman for the Norris, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman didn't finish in the top 3 for the GM of the Year award, but he did get two 1st place votes, two 2nd place votes, and three 3rd place votes en route to finishing 8th. If the farm system he's rebuilt from the ground up continues to see success in the NHL the way Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and others did this year, a GM of the Year award is almost certainly in his future.
The last (and perhaps best) hope for the Bolts was goaltender Ben Bishop, who was probably the best goaltender in the league for most of the first half of the season but struggled post-Olympics due to injury and perhaps a bit due to overuse. The Vezina ultimately went to Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins. Bishop finished third in the voting, also behind Semyon Varlamov, with a single 1st place vote. He also got a few 4th and 5th place votes for the Hart Trophy and finished 10th overall there. Sidney Crosby won the league's MVP award.
Finally, Martin St. Louis finished second in the Lady Byng voting (somehow) with four 1st place votes to his name, in spite of requesting a trade off the young team he was in the process of captaining into the playoffs.
It's tough not to be disappointed with the end result, but the Lightning fell victim to a lot of circumstance, and each nominee will have to follow-up their great 2013-14 seasons with even better efforts in 2014-15 in order to bring some hardware back to hockey paradise next summer.