Sunday, January 9, 2011

Learning Not to Care About Awards

I started closely following the Capitals in 2003, I'd say. Since then I've been hit with a slew of Caps vying for individual awards at the end of the season.

Robert Lang that season was leading the Art Ross race before being traded to Detroit. Coming out of the lockout, Alex Ovechkin won the Calder and has been a perennial contender for the Ross, Richard, Pearson/Lindsay, and Hart Trophies ever since. Bruce Boudreau won the Jack Adams and Nicklas Backstrom was a Calder finalist in 2008. Mike Green has been a Norris finalist twice and may very well be again this season. John Carlson looks like a Calder finalist this season, and Semyon Varlamov looks like a future Vezina winner. So yeah, I've almost always been rooting for one or more Caps to win an individual award.

More recently, though, I've found that I've stopped caring. Why? Simple. Aside from Carlson, no Capital this season is even in the running for an award at this point.

Ovechkin won't be winning anything in all likelihood. Green will need a monster second half to get in the Norris race, and even then, Dustin Byfuglien's shiny boxcars and reputation as an elite two-way defenseman (you'd think, since obviously because he has a championship he's an elite defensive player who takes all the tough assignments) as well as early season luster will likely see him through. Couture is ahead of Carlson right now and at this point deserves the Calder over Carlson. Varlamov won't be winning anything while sharing time in goal with Michal Neuvirth. And so on.

I've pretty much conceded that individual awards are based heavily on who gets lucky in a given year, and that the good players will win their awards eventually. Backstrom has 15 years to win a Selke, Smythe, Ross, and/or Byng, I'd say. Green has slightly less (I think, because of the beating he takes from forecheckers) time, but still a lot, to win a Norris or two. If everyone's percentages were at career averages Crosby and Ovechkin would be neck-and-neck for the Ross and Richard again. Varlamov will get over his injury troubles eventually and with each passing game looks more and more like an elite goalie.

I guess this is what other teams' fans feel regularly. I'd been regularly spoiled with all the talent McPhee has assembled. Now, with no Capital really in the running or deserving any award, I--and hopefully, the players, too--can simply focus on winning the Stanley Cup.

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