by Lisa McRitchie on 04/23/12 at 02:45 PM ET
The Edmonton Oilers will not be raising any banners earned from this season to the rafters of Rexall Place, but now two players have the possibility of raising a trophy. Last week it was announced that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a finalist for the Calder Trophy and now Jordan Eberle has been selected as a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. While the Lady Byng may not be the award midget or even junior players dream of winning it is still a prestigious award that has been handed out to a very impressive and talented list of players.
“A lot of people always say maybe it’s a sissy award” Eberle told Tom Gazolla of EdmontonOilers.com “But at the same time I’ve never been a guy to shy away from the game. I’m pretty much always in the action and you have to go to the tough areas to score goals.”
And score he has. Without Eberle’s 34 goals and 76 points this past season, the Oilers would have been lost. Averaging just slightly less than a point per game (0.974) Eberle’s sophomore year scoring was enough to earn him 16th in the National Hockey League and help balloon the Oilers to a 29th place finish. But most impressively is that through it all Eberle only took 5 minor penalties.
While his teammates were scratching and clawing to get respect and calls from the refs, Eberle seemed to play with a calmness and intensity that the Oilers haven’t seen in quite some time. But don’t tell that to Eberle who must not see the difference in his play versus teammate Taylor Hall.
In fact, Eberle says “At first I was a little skeptical of it just because the award.” It’s not that Eberle doesn’t want to win an award, but it is still that connotation that tough guys don’t take home this award. Thankfully Eberle has also had a look at the list of previous winners; “As I’ve looked into it more, just the recognition of the award, it’s amazing… I’m very excited and honoured to be a part of it.”
It isn’t too hard to see why a player would be taken aback from a Byng nomination, after all this is the award that is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” But no where in that description does it say that the player is “soft” just more of an indication that you players with a lot of hockey smarts are likely to take this award.
Eberle was selected along with Florida Panther’s defenceman Brian Campbell and New York Islanders’ left winger Matt Moulson. Campbell had 4 goals, 53 points and 6 penalty minutes through 82 games played and could be just the third defenceman ever to take home this award. His team also made the playoffs this season and that could bode well for him with the voters.
Moulson finished 22nd in the league for points, with 36 goals, 69 points and 6 penalty minutes in his 82 game season. While like the Oilers the Islanders didn’t make the playoffs, they were at least in the running for a little longer.
This year’s winner will be announced June 20th in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards Show and will become the 87th time the award will be handed out. Because none of the three finalists have won this award before, one of these three will be just the 52nd recipient of the award since it’s inception in 1925.
To many Eberle’s chances are slim because he “hasn’t paid his dues” yet Moulson has only now played three complete seasons in the NHL, just one more than Eberle and it is Campbell who has sen the most NHL games with 708. While Eberle may not be a favourite for this award he certainly is in the running and shouldn’t be written off just yet. After all, the Oilers didn’t finish 30th and yet they will step up to the draft podium first. Perhaps Edmonton’s luck is turning around after all.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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