The NHL's annual honor to the most "gentlemanly" player is seen as a backhanded compliment by uber-competitive hockey players who would gleefully elbow Mother Theresa in the chops if she stood between them and the puck, and to have the award named after Lady Byng only adds to the awkwardness for macho athletes.
Renaming it in honor of longtime Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau wouldn't be a bad idea, in my book, but we'll save that debate for another day. In the meantime, consider this year's three finalists as voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Lady Byng Award (winner to be announced Friday, June 14)...
|2012 - Patrick Kane||47||23||32||55||+11||8||8||0||3||138||16.6|
A first-time finalist, Kane may surprise many given his off-ice antics involving public drunkenness and cab drive abuse over the years, but this award is related to on-ice performance.
|2012 - Matt Moulson||47||15||29||44||-3||4||8||0||0||154||9.7|
Moulson is a finalist for the second consecutive season, managing to go into the hard scoring areas while not losing his temper. Besides just taking two penalties this season, he only took 3 in 2011-2012 while playing 82 games.
|2012 - Martin St. Louis||48||17||43||60||0||14||3||0||2||112||15.1|
St. Louis won this award in 2010 and 2011, before losing out to Bryan Campbell last season. Based on name recognition and veteran status, he may be the runaway favorite here.
OTF Staff Picks
|Dirk||Pavel Datsyuk||Martin St. Louis||Matt Moulson||Patrick Kane||Kris Letang||For being in the thick of competitive action, these guys don't seem to snap very often.|
|Caroline||Pavel Datsyuk||Matt Read||Kyle Wellwood||Matt Moulson||Logan Couture||Pavel just oozes class and patience and respect and politeness. I really think he epitomizes this award.|
|Jonathan||Pavel Datsyuk||Jonathan Toews||Martin St. Louis||Raffi Torres||Ryan Callahan||A scoundrel's game played by gentlemen. Seriously, your guess is as good as mine. Callahan is just on the list so I can take his name off. I don't think I've ever liked a player for his playing so much, only to have it spoiled by errant elbows and sneaky dirty plays.|
|Chris||Milan Hedjuk||Ryan Callahan||Eric Staal||Patrice Bergeron||Marian Hossa||Hedjuk's career is coming to an end with a very impressive resume. I think Callahan wins it, but Hedjuk is a worthy canidate.|
|George||Rob Scuderi||Logan Couture||Drew Miller||Kyle Wellwood||Milan Hejduk||Scuderi played all 48 games this year, averaged just under 22 minutes TOI per game, and finished the season with 4 PIMs. It's not common for a defenseman to win the Lady Byng, but he seems like an obvious choice.|
|Jason||Pavel Datsyuk||Martin St. Louis||Matt Moulson||Patrick Kane||Kris Letang||I just copied Dirk's vote. There's nobody I trust more when it comes to sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.|