Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon has taken home the first of hopefully several Avs awards this year. He won the Lady Byng.
Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon has a temper — a wicked one. He’s Irish, what do you expect? Plus, you know, he’s a fierce competitor.
Therefore, when he was nominated for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, I was a little puzzled. The award is generally given to the most gentlemanly of players. Not that our MVP is a cad, but see above about his competition level.
However, the gentlemanly aspect of the award parameters are only half of the equation. Here are the full parameters:
"“The player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”"
After winning the award — many of the awards are being announced while the playoffs are still going on, obviously — MacKinnon spoke with reporters on a Zoom call. He talked about how he
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walked that fine line:
"“I think it’s just a line you need to hover on. I respect my opponents, I don’t want to be dirty, I also want to be trusted by the coaching staff that I won’t take penalties and things like that. With my skating I try to use my legs to stick-check and things like that and not take unnecessary minors, but I never thought I’d win this award. I usually get a few more minors than this, but obviously I’m very honored.”"
Naturally, MacKinnon would prefer to still be playing hockey in the playoffs, a place where he matched his PIMs in 12 games to what he did in the whole 69 games he played in the regular season. MacKinnon was going hard.
Like I said, I don’ t think of MacKinnon as a natural for this award. When you look at MacKinnon’s penalty minutes this season — a metric commonly used to show sportsmanship — you see his 12 are a big improvement over previous seasons. Last year he recorded 34. This is also a man who’s been known to drop the gloves — he got into a tussle or two during this season, too. MacKinnon is a skill player, but no opponent is going to push him around.
Anyway, we all know which award Nathan MacKinnon is a natural for. He’s our MVP, and that’s the award we all want to see him receive. He should this year. He probably won’t because the sports reporters who judged have their blind spots, but no question he deserves it.
The Colorado Avalanche have a long offseason. Too long. But I have confidence our MVP and current Lady Byng holder will lead us to future glory.