Pronger takes Hart and Norris
His team didn't win the Stanley Cup, but Chris Pronger has a lot of hardware to show for his outstanding season, winning both the Hart and Norris Trophies.
In the closest balloting ever for the Hart Trophy, the St. Louis Blues' defenceman surprised many critics, hauling in the league's most valuable player award at the 2000 NHL Awards at the Sears Theatre in Toronto on Thursday night.
Pronger beat Jaromir Jagr, the 1999 Hart winner, by just one point.
"I think anyone of us could be up here," said the hulking defenceman upon accepting the award from former Hart winner, Mark Messier.
In this era of defensive hockey, maybe it's fitting that Pronger beat out Jagr, the Pittsburgh Penguins goal-scoring sensation.
| HART TROPHY (MOST VALUABLE PLAYER) Chris ProngerSt. Louis Blues |
VEZINA TROPHY (BEST GOALTENDER) Olaf KolzigWashington Capitals
NORRIS TROPHY (BEST DEFENSEMAN) Chris ProngerSt. Louis Blues
MASTERTON TROPHY (PERSEVERANCE AND DEDICATION) Ken Daneyko New Jersey Devils
SELKE TROPHY (BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD) Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings
ADAMS AWARD (BEST COACH) Joel Quenneville St. Louis Blues
KING CLANCY TROPHY (LEADERSHIP ON AND OFF ICE) Curtis Joseph Toronto Maple Leafs
LADY BYNG TROPHY (SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD) Pavol DemitraSt. Louis Blues
CALDER TROPHY (ROOKIE OF THE YEAR) Scott GomezNew Jersey Devils
In front of a partisan pro-Curtis Joseph crowd, Lanny McDonald and Fred Brathwaite had the unenviable task of telling the Air Canada Centre crowd that Olaf Kolzig won the Vezina Trophy at the 2000 NHL Awards.
"Wow, not a popular choice," said the Washington Capitals goalie. "I'd like to thank Dominik (Hasek) for giving us a chance to win this."
Kolzig had a stellar season, leading the league in minutes played and shots. He was the reason why the Capitals made such a remarkable turn around from the previous season.
Kolzig, who was nominated along with Joseph and Roman Turek, posted a 33-7-5 record in his first 45 starts of the season with a goals-against average of 1.92.
Earlier in the evening, at 25 years of age, Pronger became the youngest player to claim the Norris Trophy since Paul Coffey did it in 1985.
Since being acquired from the Hartford Whalers in 1995, Pronger has evolved into a complete defenceman in the NHL.
"I think initially I started on slow decline and then began to rise quickly. Obviously, Al (MacInnis) and (coach) Joel (Quenneville) have been a really big factor in bringing me along and trying to guide me in the right direction," said Pronger, who beat out Rob Blake and Nicklas Lidstrom for the NHL's top defenceman honour.
Quenneville depended on the team captain for every situation during a hockey game, and that's one of the reasons why he led the NHL in ice time with just over 30 minutes played.
He finished second in scoring among defencemen with 62 points.
Despite having his top offensive player, Pierre Turgeon, sidelined due to injury for part of the season, Quenneville guided the St. Louis Blues to the President's Trophy and a team record 114-point season.
Those accomplishments were enough to earn him the Jack Adams Award.
"This is representative of what the players accomplished this year...I'd like to thank each one of the guys for the commitment to the team," said Quenneville, who led the Blues to a 51-20-11 record this season.
He beat out Montreal Canadiens' coach Alain Vigneault and Washington Capitals' coach Ron Wilson for the award.
Five days after he hoisted the game's biggest prize, the Stanley Cup, Scott Gomez was lifting some more hardware Thursday night, claiming the Calder Trophy.
For a moment, he was speechless.
"I forgot what I was going to say," said Gomez after he accepted the award from Christopher Reeve.
"Sorry for taking so long," said Gomez, in a rambling but humourous speech. "I don't know if I'll be up here again, probably not."
This was a season that the native Anchorage Alaska will never forget, as the 20-year-old dominated the rookie scoring race all season long, topping all first-year players in points, assists, power-play points and shots.
"I was just a Mexican kid coming into Jersey and that's big trouble."
He beat Brad Stuart and Mike York to become the second Devil to earn the Calder Trophy, the first being goaltender Martin Brodeur in 1994.
Pavol Demitra is a rare commodity in the NHL, a man who can score and take few penalties, which was the main reason why he was voted the league's most sportsmanlike player.
Demitra scored 75 points while taking only eight minutes in penalties for the St. Louis Blues. Quenneville accepted for Demitra, who couldn't make it.
Steve Yzerman wasn't at the show to pick up the Frank J. Selke Award, for the top defensive forward in the NHL. Senior vice-president of the Detroit Red Wings, Jim Devellano, accepted for him.
Joseph received the King Clancy Award, given to the NHL player who exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice.
In awards pre-determined during the regular season, Jagr claimed the Art Ross Trophy for the top scorer, while Roman Turek took home the Jennings for the best goals against average during the regular season.
This year's Masterton trophy went to New Jersey Devils' Ken Daneyko.
Pavel Bure, of the Florida Panthers, fired off 58 goals to take home the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy for the league's top goal scorer.
Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, opened the 2000 Awards by announcing the first-team all-star squad. Kolzig, Pronger, Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Yzerman and Jagr were named to the team.