Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud, general manager Kelly McCrimmon and president of hockey operations George McPhee made an impressive cameo at the NHL’s annual awards show Monday, pouring beer from the Stanley Cup into host Dierks Bentley’s mouth near the end of the ceremony.
That was it for the Knights’ appearances on the Bridgestone Arena stage in Nashville, Tennessee. The team didn’t pick up any additional hardware outside of the one it dumped liquid in, and that’s probably fine with the recently crowned champions. The Knights have the one that counts.
The lack of additional attention wasn’t a surprise. The Knights were the first Cup winner without a regular-season awards finalist since 1995 and only the fifth since the NHL’s modern era began in 1943-44. It’s a testament to how the team was built. The Knights succeeded through incredible depth and excellent chemistry, making their lack of individual standouts more of a feature than a bug.
They did get consideration in several categories.
Bruce Cassidy finished fourth in the Jack Adams voting for coach of the year. He led the Knights to the best record in the Pacific Division and Western Conference before winning the Stanley Cup in his first season with the team. Cassidy won the award in 2020 with the Boston Bruins.
His replacement in Boston, Jim Montgomery, took home the trophy after leading the Bruins to an NHL-record 65 wins and 135 points in his first season in charge. New Jersey’s Lindy Ruff finished second and Seattle’s Dave Hakstol third.
Knights goaltender Logan Thompson was eighth in the Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year. He was a strong candidate most of the season and played in the All-Star Game, but appeared in only two games after the event because of lower-body injuries.
No other Knights finished in the top 10 for any of the major awards.
Centers Jack Eichel and William Karlsson and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo received votes for the Lady Byng Award for most gentlemanly player, and captain Mark Stone and center Chandler Stephenson were on ballots for the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward.
Other players and clubs instead took center stage.
The top award went to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, who picked up his third Hart Trophy for MVP in his eighth season. He was first on 195 of the 196 ballots after leading the league in goals (64) for the first time and points (153) for the fifth. The only other players who have won three Harts this early in their career are Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Clarke, Bobby Orr and Alex Ovechkin.
The Bruins had two winners besides Montgomery. Linus Ullmark won the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender, and center Patrice Bergeron grabbed the Selke. Bergeron won the award for the second straight year and sixth time overall, two more than any other player.
San Jose’s Erik Karlsson won his third Norris Trophy for best defenseman after becoming only the sixth blue liner — and first since Brian Leetch in 1991-92 — to score at least 100 points. He became the fourth player in NHL history to win the Norris with two teams after taking it home twice with Ottawa.
NHL awards winners
Hart Trophy (MVP): Connor McDavid, Edmonton
Norris Trophy (best defenseman): Erik Karlsson, San Jose
Jack Adams Award (best coach): Jim Montgomery, Boston
Vezina Trophy (best goalie): Linus Ullmark, Boston
Selke Trophy (best defensive forward): Patrice Bergeron, Boston
Calder Trophy (best rookie): Matty Beniers, Seattle
Masterton Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey): Kris Letang, Pittsburgh
Lady Byng Trophy (most gentlemanly player): Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
Ted Lindsay Award (MVP, as voted by players): McDavid
King Clancy Memorial Trophy (humanitarian award): Mikael Backlund, Calgary
Mark Messier Leadership Award: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay
E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence (draft prospect dedicated to success): Connor Bedard
Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Jason McCrimmon