Make that three Flyers snubbed for hardware.
Maybe it’s a bit of hometown bias. After all, the Flyers finished the regular season with just the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference. Now, in the middle of this improbable Stanley Cup run, the Orange and Black are playing like a No. 1 seed.
Still, the awards aren’t coming. The NHL announced its finalists for the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) and Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette wasn’t on the list.
The three finalists are former Flyers coach/current Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, the Rangers’ John Tortorella and Ottawa’s Paul MacLean.
Then, there was the issue of the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP). We have no problem with Henrik Lundqvist (the league’s best goaltender) and Evgeni Malkin (the league’s best scorer), but Steven Stamkos over Claude Giroux … we’re not buying that.
Yes, Stamkos finished four points ahead of Giroux in points and his 60 goals led the league, 10 ahead of Malkin. Stamkos is a great player, one of the NHL’s best. But qualifying for the postseason should count for something, right? Besides, no one is playing better hockey right now than Claude Giroux. Even Wayne Gretzky admitted that much.
Perhaps the greatest injustice was the absence of Paul Holmgren’s name for the NHL’s GM of the Year award. We’re not saying the three finalists (Doug Armstrong, St. Louis; David Poile, Nashville; Dale Tallon, Flordai) aren’t worthy, but Holmgren blew up his entire team on a whim.
The Flyers GM traded away the two faces of the franchise (Jeff Carter, Mike Richards), while letting Ville Leino walk, and shelled out $51 million for Ilya Bryzgalov. It could have easily blown up in his face, yet it didn’t. The Flyers sit 11 wins away from raising the Cup. It’s a remarkable feat that won’t be rewarded.
Anyway, on to Game 2 against New Jersey ... back at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.