LAS VEGAS – As Carey Price was about to step up to a podium that balanced four gleaming hunks of hardware, someone stopped the goalie. His bow tie was a little crooked.
A journalist—maybe one of the 139 of 157 who gave him a first-place vote as the league’s most valuable player—straightened him out before he tried to find words that captured the moment.
Not since Guy LaFleur accomplished the feat had a member of the Montreal Canadiens captured four NHL awards in one season.
1. It’s Carey Price’s world. We’re just living in it.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said an emotional Price. The Ted Lindsay, Vezina, William Jennings and Hart trophies crowded the table.
“This whole season has been just amazing,” he said, looking over his haul. “There’s still one more I want to get, though.”
2. Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals know marketing.
While the other finalists conducted interviews in nice dress shirts and slacks, Alex Ovechkin walked in wearing cargo shorts, sneakers and a red Washington Capitals alternate sweater. As Ovie spoke to reporters, a press release was fired off announcing the club’s new third jersey for 2015-16. Synergy!
3. Gary Bettman has figured out how not to get booed.
The commissioner outsmarted us all with the weapon of adorableness.
Bettman presented the GM of the Year award alongside Jordyn Leopold, NHLer Jordan Leopold’s daughter. The girl wrote a letter at the trade deadline requesting that the Columbus Blue Jackets trade her dad home to Minnesota. She recited part of that heartbreaking letter for the crowd standing next to the commish.
4. Under 21, Aaron Ekblad still knows how to have fun in Vegas.
The Calder Trophy winner and his family took a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon Wednesday morning prior to the ceremony.
“Unbelievable time. The best time I’ve had in a long time,” Ekblad said. “I got a video of myself right on the edge of the Grand Canyon, about a foot away from falling off of it. Pretty exhilarating experience.”
5. Russell Peters is a mischief-maker.
During the red carpet portion of the gala, the Toronto comedian got a kick out of arranging for a little person to photo-bomb Jonathan Toews and the Stanley Cup.
6. P.K. Subban gives it up to the legends.
Cool moment as we caught Subban make a point of approaching the iconic Ted Lindsay and shaking his hand.
7. Awards host Rob Riggle had his heart broken by the Scouts.
“My earliest hockey memories were of the Kansas City Scouts,” the comedian told me in our 18-second interview. “I grew up in Kansas City. Then they left—broke my heart. Then when I lived in New York I supported the Rangers. Now I live in L.A. and support the Kings.”
8. Erik Karlsson and his wife could contend for Most Gorgeous Couple on Earth.
Swedes, eh? They don’t make too many you want to send back.
Right before the Senators defenceman captured his second Norris Trophy, we asked him who was the most important person he should thank.
“The one standing right here beside me,” he said, motioning to his wife. “It doesn’t matter what happens in my professional life, she’s always there supporting me.”
Ever classy, Karlsson sent his well wishes to Eugene Melnyk and Bryan Murray when he accepted his award.
9. There is still love for Randy Carlyle.
One of the most interesting aspects of awards night is perusing the full tally of votes for each award.
Despite being fired mid-season, former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle received a third-place vote for the Jack Adams Award, voted on by broadcasters.
10. Jiri Hudler is a beauty.
Not only did the Calgary Flames forward capture the Lady Byng and deliver the speech of the night, but he was firing off one-liners the whole trip, often at the expense of linemate Johnny Gaudreau.
The guy arrived in Vegas without a suit, bought one right before, then spent the evening walking around without shoes.
“I look the sharpest,” he deadpanned.
11. Jonathan Toews had the zinger of the night.
While Riggle fired some good barbs about the Stanley Cup being late and Mike Babcock’s decision to join the Maple Leafs, Captain Everything drew the biggest onstage laugh of the night.
Toews and Patrick Kane were revealed as co-coverboys for EA’s NHL 16, but only Toews showed up at the MGM Grand. Speaking to Kane’s absence, Toews said, “Let’s be honest. Some guys can’t handle Vegas.”
12. Bergeron dominates the Selke, but it’s of little consolation.
The Boston Bruins centre scooped his third Frank Selke Trophy, narrowly beating out Toews for the best defensive forward and moving within one of tying Bob Gainey for the lead in all-time Selke wins.
“It’s crazy to even think about that,” Bergeron said. But Boston’s playoff-free season still doesn’t sit right. “This doesn’t put a Band-Aid on the year.”
13. Steve Yzerman wasn’t asked to manage Team Canada.
Like Price, the GM of the Year would happily trade his award in for a Cup. Yzerman said he is happy to have stepped aside from running the national team—Doug Armstrong takes over for the 2016 World Cup—and focus solely on getting the Tampa Bay Lightning back to the final.
Does that involve extending Steven Stamkos on July 1? Yzerman declined to give an update on contract talks with his captain.
14. Bob Hartley tried to shift all the attention to his players.
The Jack Adams Award winner dedicated his win onstage to all the coaches in minor hockey (very cool), then afterward waxed on about how players—not coaches—deserve all the credit for success.
“Apart from my wife, I don’t know anyone who comes to the Saddledome to watch me,” he said.
15. Brent Burns wants to join the military after hockey.
Neck-and-neck with Hudler for most lovable finalist, the San Jose Sharks defenceman was happy to speak at length about helping children of military members get involved with hockey.
“Maybe I’ll be able to get into the National Guard,” said the NHL Foundation Player Award winner. “Obviously I’m Canadian, so I don’t know how that would work.”