The 2013 Alternative NHL Awards: Celebrating Hockey's Anti-Heroes

Evander Kane took the most penalties in the offensive zone this season, which is not something to be proud of. - Jared Wickerham

Sure, the NHL's best & brightest get their honors at the end of the season, but here at OTF we like to put the spotlight on those players who excelled in the unusual things. So settle in for the 6th annual edition of our Alternative NHL Awards...

The Designated Sitter

These valiant souls sit in the penalty box to serve out the sentences dished out to their teammates, whether a belligerent goaltender or a skater who racked up a roster of crimes and can't serve all the penalties himself. Quite often, coaches have their go-to guy for such a job, due to a combination of offensive ability (maybe he'll get a breakaway coming out of the box) and poor defensive skills (there's no way they want him out there killing the penalty).

This season, we had a four-way tie for the lead in penalties served on behalf of others, with Toronto's Clarke MacArthur, Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk, Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau and Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard all sitting in the box 10 extra times.

Goaltender Interference

We've all heard the maxim that goal scorers prosper when they drive persistently to the "hard areas" of the ice, but sometimes you end up with a runaway train that collides with the poor, defenseless goaltender. This season, Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds and Montreal's Rene Bourque tied for the league lead with 3 Goaltender Interference calls each.

Diving

In early March, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien ripped the Montreal Canadiens for diving, one of the great sins against manly hockey culture. While getting swept out of the first round by San Jose, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieka leveled the same charge against the Sharks' Logan Couture and Joe Thornton, implying that they were somehow less-Canadian for flopping to the ice in order to draw a call.

Were these guys on to something, or just whining?

At least in Julien's case, the referees agreed, as the Canadiens were called for 5 Diving penalties this season, the most in the league. Phoenix came in next with three such violations.

How's that for a tweetable thought?

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

We could call this one the "He Ain't No Lady" Byng Award, and in this case we have a runaway winner, with Steve Ott of the Buffalo Sabres collecting six Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties this season, twice as many as his nearest competition (a four-way tie with 3 apiece).


Steve Ott

#9 / Forward / Buffalo Sabres

6-0

190

Aug 19, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Steve Ott 48 9 15 24 +3 93 2 0 3 73 12.3

Too Many Men

Which bench bosses have their act together, and which need an abacus to keep track of how many players should be on the ice? The Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars all took 8 Too Many Men penalties this season, while the Vancouver Canucks were the NHL's best counters by only getting penalized once.

Icing on the Power Play

Is there anything more depressing to fans than seeing their team's power play scramble under pressure by their shorthanded foes, and forced to take an icing call? Sure, some of these happen because a stretch pass gets missed, but the St. Louis Blues short-circuited their own power play the most with 7 Icings as they held the man advantage, followed by Vancouver with 6 and a host of teams tied with 5 apiece.

The only team in the NHL not to take an icing on the power play? The Washington Capitals...

Penalties in the Offensive Zone

There are good penalties (those which must be taken to prevent a scoring chance) and bad penalties, and one way to identify a bad penalty is to isolate those taken in the offensive zone. Sure, there may be exceptional circumstances where you need to trip or interfere with an opponent to prevent a breakaway, but taking a penalty in the offensive end is one of those things that takes a year or two off a head coach's life.

This season, Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane was the runaway winner, with 20(!) penalties taken in the offensive zone, boasting a diverse assortment including Concealing the Puck, Elbowing, Tripping, Slashing, and more. Kane was well ahead of Detroit's Dan Cleary and the dynamic duo of David Perron & David Backes in St. Louis, who all had 16 each.


Evander Kane

#9 / Left Wing / Winnipeg Jets

6-2

195

Aug 02, 1991



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Evander Kane 48 17 16 33 -3 80 2 0 4 190 8.9

Masters of Swordplay

A hockey stick can be a dangerous weapon, and some guys lay the lumber out with disturbing frequency. If we bundle together Cross Checking, Hi-Sticking, Slashing & Spearing, then Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell stands out with eight such penalties in total.


Scott Hartnell

#19 / Left Wing / Philadelphia Flyers

6-2

210

Apr 18, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Scott Hartnell 32 8 3 11 -5 70 4 0 1 74 10.8

By the way, isn't it funny that the league calls it "Hi-Sticking", and not "High-Sticking"? It just seems cheerier that way, I suppose.

Dirty Hitters

Rough play is a part of the game, that's well understood, but sometimes a hard hit crosses the line into dangerous territory, so to identify the NHL's dirtiest hitters we've lumped together Boarding, Charging, Checking From Behind, Clipping, Elbowing, Illegal Checks to the Head, and Kneeing calls. Should we call this the Ulf Samuellson Memorial Trophy? Anyways, your winner is...


David Backes

#42 / Center / St. Louis Blues

6-3

221

May 01, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - David Backes 48 6 22 28 5 62 1 0 1 100 6.0

Backes had 5 such calls this season, followed by a quintet of villains with four each (Chris Neil of Ottawa, Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo, Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau, Eric Nystrom of Dallas, and Nashville's Rich Clune).

Rough Stuff, Junior Varsity Edition

Skirmishes between the teams after a whistle blows are a hallowed hockey tradition, and usually as long as the gloves stay on nothing more than a Roughing minor is handed out. This season, Ottawa's Chris Neil led the way with 14 Roughing calls, followed by Vancouver's Alex Burrows and Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf with 9.


Chris Neil

#25 / Right Wing / Ottawa Senators

6-1

215

Jun 18, 1979



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Chris Neil 48 4 8 12 0 144 0 0 3 87 4.5

Rough Stuff, Varsity Edition

When the nastiness really boils over, however, the gloves come off and Fighting majors ensue. There are some guys in the league who stake their reputation on racking up a high number of bouts, hoping to earn steady work as a team's enforcer. This season, Toronto's Colton Orr took home the honors with 13 Fighting penalties, winning a close race with Tampa Bay's B.J. Crombeen, Jared Boll of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nashville's Rich Clune with 12 each.


Colton Orr

#28 / Right Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs

6-3

222

Mar 03, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Colton Orr 44 1 3 4 4 155 0 0 0 13 7.6

But that's not all, folks - stay tuned for the highest honor in our 2013 Alternative NHL Awards, the Least Valuable Player Trophy, coming soon...

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