For the first time in years, New Jersey Devils fans had a reason to pay attention to the NHL Awards. Brian Boyle was up for the Bill Masterton Trophy and Taylor Hall was a finalist for both the Ted Lindsay Trophy and the Hart Trophy. They came away winners. Boyle won the Masterton Trophy. Hall won the Hart Trophy, which makes him the NHL MVP for the 2017-18 season.
Both are well-deserved winners. Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia prior to the season and played through treatments, his own son having a cancer scare, and playing the kind of gritty style he has been known for. Boyle was more than worthy of the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game. Boyle is the third player in franchise history to have won the Masterton; Glenn “Chico” Resch won it 1981-82 with the Rockies and Ken Daneyko won it in 1999-2000.
Boyle gave a touching speech after winning the award. From NBC Sports, here is the clip of Boyle winning it:
I am beyond happy that Taylor Hall won the Hart. Sure, arguments can be made about whether he is the real MVP and, besides, what does “player judged most valuable to his team” really mean. I do not care. Taylor Hall has it. Hall put in one of the greatest seasons in Devils history. Hall was an offensive force where he put up real goals, real assists, and really put the team on his back from an attacking standpoint. Nobody on the team came close to him in goals, assists, shots, and points. Hall made that power play function way better than it looked at times. Hall took an already strong 2017 half of the season and took it to another level with a 26-game point streak to start 2018 (!) and a nine-game point streak until the Devils clinched a playoff berth. Hall set a new franchise record for points-per-game with 1.22, blowing away the 1.18 shared by three Devils in the past. A majority of his points either tied the game, put the Devils within a goal, or put the Devils up a goal when they occurred. Taylor Hall is a Superstar. He is the Devils’ Superstar. And this award, among other things, is a validation from the Professional Hockey Writers Association that Hall is a Superstar.
Hall is the first Hart Trophy winner in Devils history. He already made history by being the first skater to be a finalist; Martin Brodeur was a finalist a couple of times. But Hall’s win makes it that much sweeter for him, for the franchise, and for the fans of the franchise.
Here’s the video of Hart winning the trophy and his award speech. Thanks to NBC Universal for pointing this out to me:
I have not seen a voting breakdown for the Masterton but I have seen one for the Hart. From Dallas beat writer Mark Stepneski on Twitter:
Hall won it by less than 100 points from Nathan MacKinnon, who turned in a similar performance with Colorado. Still, Hall won the most first place votes with 72 and nearly matched MacKinnon in second place votes, which proved critical out of the 160 ballots. Both blew away the other finalist, Anze Kopitar, who just beat out some guy on some team that wears orange.
The 2018 NHL Awards show was like most awards shows to me. It was stuffed with lame entertainment filler, bad reading of cue cards and stilted speeches, and ran over time. I would not have watched it if it was not for Boyle and Hall being up for awards. Seeing their spiffy, sparkling suit jackets get up on stage to win the Masterton and Hart, respectively made it all worth it. It was a great night to be a Devils fan.
Other Devils Receiving Votes
Thanks to Twitter, I did notice that other Devils did receive votes for other awards. This is a good place as any to highlight them. Links go to Stepneski’s tweets of the voting breakdown for each award:
Calder - Nico Hischier came in seventh (0-7-6-6-14) and Will Butcher came in ninth (0-1-2-5-5) in voting. In one of the deepest rookie classes in recent memory, this is fine to me. The top five were dominant players for their respective teams and Mathew Barzal ran away with the trophy with a monstrously productive rookie campaign.
Lady Byng - Will Butcher, for some reason, received 16 voting points. Four people put them on their ballot. Two third-place votes and two fourth-place votes. This was kind of random. But not as random as...
Selke - Taylor Hall received a fifth-place vote for this! Hall, who played on no regular PK unit, got a vote for this. Hall, who is all about the attack, got a vote for this. If you were to tell me that a Devil was given a token vote in this, then I would have figured on Blake Coleman. Hall? Shout out to that member of the media.
Jack Adams - The Jack Adams for coach of the year is decided upon by the NHL Broadcasters Association, not the PHWA. The broadcasters put John Hynes sixth on the list. 21 of them put him third on their ballots; but he needed some more or some second place votes to get into the top five. Oh well. Gerard Gallant won this a walk, by the way.
GM of the Year - Ray Shero came in seventh. George McPhee came in first and now has oodles of cap space and picks to work with. If McPhee is smart, he’ll keep being in the running for this award.
Lastly, Hall was a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s most outstanding player by the NHLPA. Hall did not win this one; Connor McDavid did. I have not seen a voting break down so I do not know if he came in second or third and I do not know if he was even close to winning it. I do not really care that much because Hall now has a Hart.
Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy with an unforgettable 2017-18 season. Yet, we will also not forget that the trade was One for One.
Thank you for reading.