by Rob Poirier (@RobFeature)
The NHL handed out its awards Wednesday night in a ceremony that was even more cringe-inducing than usual (if you can believe that). The reason for the increased cringe factor was twofold: firstly, Drew Doughty was given his first Norris trophy. And secondly, in an unprecedented move, the NHL retroactively re-awarded the Stanley Cup.
Let's take a closer look at that first thing: Doughty, who began complaining that he was owed a Norris trophy while the 2015-16 season was still in its infancy, finally walked away with his
This past season, Erik Karlsson scored the most points by any defenceman in 20 years, and was also the first defenceman to lead the league in assists in 40 years. He didn't just prove that he was the best defenceman to play this season... he proved that he is one of the best defencemen to play EVER.
So what kind of season did Doughty have, you ask? I mean, in order to topple Karlsson, one would assume that he must have done something equally earth-shattering, no? Maybe he just plain got super defensive. Like, maybe he registered the most blocked shots in a season ever? Maybe he killed a penalty single-handedly while barefoot? Or maybe he tried to justify voting Drew Doughty for the Norris trophy?
No, Drew actually didn't do much this season.
His supporters consistently give two reasons why they voted for him: (1) on a good team, his +/- was pretty good. Like, he was on the ice ALOT while other players were doing good things. And (2) come on, the guy really wanted to win it! How can you say no to that face?!
Regardless, Doughty sauntered up there last night, collected his gift, and we in the crowd bravely continued acting like these awards have any merit at all. But that was when Gary Bettman stepped back to the mic and made a surprise announcement that broke our brains...
"Drew? Hold on there, slugger. Get back up here. Come on, big guy. We've got a little surprise for you."
As a puzzled Doughty returned to the stage, something else joined him. A large object was wheeled out, hidden beneath a black velvet cloth.
"Now, Drew... some of our friends in the PHWA have told me that you've been a little down in the dumps lately," Bettman continued. "We know this season didn't end the way you hoped, so we got together and arranged something special for you. On behalf of both the NHL and the PHWA, I am extremely proud to declare the Los Angeles Kings the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions!"
With a flourish, Bettman pulled back the black velvet cloth, revealing the gleaming Stanley Cup. This was met with... honestly, it was pretty much just indifference again (people in Vegas really do not care about hockey, I cannot stress this enough), but a few writers here and there erupted in jubilant applause as Doughty hoisted the Cup above his head. Beside me, one of them shouted "Good for you, big guy! I love you!"
I turned to him and asked "What in the Hell is going on right now?" Tears streaming down his face, he replied "You didn't see the little tyke's face when Pittsburgh won... lower lip all tremblin' like it was... I mean, what were we supposed to do? Let Drew be sad? Fat chance! YOU EARNED THIS, SPORT!"
The NHL Entry Draft takes place June 24th. Free agency begins on July 1st. The new season opens October 12th.
Drew Doughty's campaign to win the 2017 Norris trophy starts NOW.