By Chris Wassel and RotoRob
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the machine. No no no, we mean the 2013 RotoRob Hockey Awards. This year we feature the usual awards, but then we go so far off the reservation that we had to call several doctors to yank us back to reality. No one said this would be easy so let’s try to tick off as many as we can with this year’s awards.
2013 RotoRob Awards
All stats are care of Hockey Reference.
Fantasy Stud of the Year
Sidney Crosby had designs on more important hardware than the Stanley Cup. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star)
The Stanley Cup? Meh. How about Sidney Crosby’s RotoRob hardware? Simply put, 2013 was all about Crosby. In 71 games, he tallied 34 goals along with 69 assists for a total of 103 points — almost 1.44 points per game. There was no one in the NHL that was better and, honestly, few even came close. The fact that Sid the Kid has 19 goals in 35 games this season already is an indication that he’s back and his shooting percentage is now at 16.2 per cent and will not regress much, if any, from here on out. Also, No. 87 has played a career high ATOI (Average Time On Ice) of 22:14. The reality is the hardware was his before he broke his jaw in March and the fact that he remains one of the hardest players to knock off the puck is a reason why he tallies so many points from in close. He just does it all and is worthy of the high accolades no matter if you hate his guts or not. — CW
We placed Tuukka Rask on the list for 2013 simply because his numbers from the goaltending ranks have consistently been off the charts for Fantasy owners. His goals against average was 1.99 and save percentage was right about .930. Rask also had 35 wins in 62 games played during the calendar year, which may not be the most but was pretty damn impressive. While his 2009-10 season might have been his best, this calendar year was quite impressive considering all the mitigating factors.
Lastly, we also considered Martin St. Louis, who had 91 points in 81 games during the 2013 calendar year — despite not having Steven Stamkos by his side for the last 17 games and change. While it is not quite the points per game total of a Sidney Crosby, it was significant enough for a 38-year-old who has the ability to stay healthy while still producing at a rather elite level — something that is very rare these days. We also passed over players like Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Lundqvist among others.
Fantasy Dud of the Year (Alexei Kovalev Tribute Award)
Tyler Myers’ 2013 went to the dogs. (Hockeyplayerswithpets.tumblr.com)
It was thought that the 2013-14 season could not be any worse than the 2013 campaign for Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres and yet it has, so far. In 72 combined games, defenseman had a whopping 17 points and, yes, we do mean that sarcastically. This dud is also a -22 in 2013 and is a penalty magnet that has disaster written all over it. The shot percentage numbers are bad, his play is worse, and his gaffes are “Sportscenter Not Top 10” worthy. That is almost all you need to really know about this most consistent Fantasy dud. — CW
There was at least a passing fancy of putting a guy like Dany Heatley or even a Tomas Kopecky on the list, but there may be a player or two more… err… less worthy than even them. However, we also have tossed Nail Yakupov’s name out there as well — and not only because of his 12 points in 33 games. It is that stunning -22 in that span that literally has turned people’s heads. Like we have said, there have been worse bombs in 2013, but Yakupov has killed so many Fantasy owners in the later part of the year that he had to be given at least a mention. After all, it could not get too much worse.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Jonathan Huberdeau is a key part of the Panther rebuild. (Legrandclub.rds.ca)
This could spark a little debate but Jonathan Huberdeau wins this one by a nose. His 46 points in 81 games on a rather bad Florida team was just enough to get our attention. It was not exactly a unanimous vote here but the centre is slowly playing a better two-way game this season, which will help some of his other statistics. As Florida slowly gets better, the upside for No. 11 will only get higher. Huberdeau’s hands and skill are definitely not in dispute. — CW
Alex Galchenyuk was a close second choice from the Montreal Canadiens. Some might even argue that he should have won this award, but Galchenyuk does have a bit more to work with and gets more sheltered minutes in Montreal. Either way, his 49 points in 83 games are the best points per game for a rookie in 2013. The forward is a bulldog around the net but does sometimes place himself in bad defensive positions which was something he did not do earlier in 2013. Let the Huberdeau-Galchenyuk debate continue, but we are interested to see what happens when the talent surrounding Huberdeau catches up to the talent surrounding Galchenyuk.
Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year
Dustin Penner seems like a different player for the Ducks. (Lapresse.ca)
It is always fun to see a player that so many give the business to, bounce back, and then keep on making a run with it. The last few years in Los Angeles had been rather tough on Dustin Penner, best known for getting back spasms while eating pancakes at IHOP. From 31 points in his last 98 games in L.A. to 24 points in just 28 games in Anaheim, Penner made just a phenomenal jump. Remember, Penner was a risky start in many Fantasy leagues. No one knew just how good he could be this year — who knew Penner would have a league-leading +20 while seeing every vital statistic rise this year. Granted, playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry always helps the Fantasy bottom line, but Penner has been his own nightmare for those trying to match up against Anaheim’s number one unit. — CW
This may seem like a surprise, but we chose Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins. Despite how long in the tooth he looked at times early in the year, now he just keeps finding ways to gather points. If the “Big Z” did not fill so many categories like he did then he might have had a better shot at nabbing the Comeback Player of the Year honour. As it is, Chara’s Fantasy bounce back has made so many people joyous this holiday season. Expect that to continue.
Now it is time for the section known as humour to the max as we present our fun awards.
Best Tanking During a Hockey Season
David Clarkson sure has fallen off the ledge for the Leafs. (Markhamislanders.com)
It’s so strange to see a player that got off to such a hot start in 2013, end it in absolute shambles, but here we are. Simply put, David Clarkson ended his career in New Jersey with lots of consternation and frustration. That has only worsened in the hockey crazy lands of Toronto. Clarkson has tallied only seven goals in his last 56 games and that has something to do with his own stubbornness. Why did we use the word “tanking?” Because the chances are there and Clarkson almost always finds a way to flub so many shots. Needless to say it has not gone well for the Toronto forward and with his inherent tendency for questionable decisions (suspensions, etc.), we will say it: Clarkson has tanked as far as Fantasy expectations. Until he gets his head out of his ass, it is not going to get much better either. — CW
Rick DiPietro Operation Award
Injury-prone Martin Havlat is about to do damage to his groin. (Ottawasun.com)
In honour of the game Operation and the retirement of perpetually hurt Rick DiPietro, we humbly present this award (care of the Injury Ninja) to… Martin Havlat, RW, San Jose Sharks. Over the last several seasons, Havlat has endured just about every odd injury you could ever imagine and others in the offseason that had not even been documented. If it was not one thing, it was another. People do not look at a Havlat return as a sign of better things to come but as a gauge to see when he may get hurt again. While he was never truly an elite player, he was at one time a consistent point producer. Pointing out his injury history is futile as it may lead to the next one. The time is ticking, Marty. How will you hurt Fantasy owners this time err… we should say with what injury will you hurt both of us? — CW
There really is not much more to see here other than the man himself, Rick DiPietro, getting injured yet again. If you played the board game Operation with him, just go for the knee, hip and groin, you’d win every time. The latest series of injuries for the goalie proved to be the final nail in the coffin of his career. But DiPietro is not the only one whose career is in jeopardy. Chris Pronger finally entered this realm and “retired,” but the guy that may be next is Marc Staal, who has now had three significant concussions and some minor ailments in the last two plus seasons. The fact that a simple textbook hit by Reid Boucher caused a concussion has to be very frightening. What is worse is that Staal is not even the player he once was. He is so gun shy that the maladies are likely to keep on coming.
The Spin Doctor Award (Lockout Dissonance)
How does Gary Bettman say this stuff with a straight face? (Veikkaajat.com)
This one goes to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman for his amazing ability to lock the players out for half a season, cry poor, lower the salary cap, and then in one year raise the cap around $7 million (according to reports). Just why in the hell did we have a lockout anyway? No one really can come up with a straight answer after the latest TV deal with Rogers. The salary cap may be close to $80 million in just a few years and all we heard for several months was cost certainty. When you hear it as many times spun out of Bettman’s mouth as we have, you tune it right the heck out. Imagine how Bettman would use spin if he ran a public relations firm. You do have to admire the fact that few can spin things the way he can. The problem is in a league in which the media question everything, they kind of let Bettman spin it the way he wants, when he wants. The Commish is the best spin doctor in the four major sports, bar none. Just listen to how he speaks and it is instantly and painfully obvious. — CW
Don’t Shoot the Messenger Award
Dan Girardi isn’t the same player without John Tortorella. (Hockey.dobbersports.com)
This one goes to Dan Girardi, who loudly opined about preferring to play the old way (John Tortorella’s style) as opposed to Alain Vigneault’s way. It was public and intended that way for one purpose. Girardi was not the only one in the Ranger locker room that prefers playing this way. The team’s biggest investment (Henrik Lundqvist) will not say it publicly, but privately has endorsed Girardi’s stance 110 per cent. General Manager Glen Sather wants to play it one way, while Vigneault wants it another way. What you have is a situation in which the messenger may eventually become a casualty at some point. However, you never knows in Gotham as things never really go according to the script, do they? This one will be one to keep an eye on. — CW
Worst Hockey Arena Song of the Year
Nothing says hockey like DJ Casper. (Tekstovi-pesama.com)
Anyone who is anyone may have a serious debate on this one but “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper won this award just barely because literally it is played incessantly in so many different arenas at the worst possible times. We just had to give in and say this beat out such not so classics like Fall Out Boy’s “Light ’em Up,” and Rednex’s “Cotton Eyed Joe,” etc. Our question is this: what is the worst song you have ever heard in an arena? By all means, we want to know so do not be shy. — CW
Worst Pinch of the Year
Dion Phaneuf’s decision was ill-advised. (Blogs.thescore.com)
The Toronto Maple Leafs finally made the playoffs in 2012-13, but in their first round match-up against the Bruins, they trailed two games to one with Game Four in overtime. Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf committed a cardinal overtime sin and pinched in to the Bruin zone, taking himself out of the play with a big hit, but allowing the Boston to break out two-on-one the other way. David Krejci made no mistake and the Bruins grabbed a commanding 3-1 series lead en route to advancing to the Conference Semifinals. At the very least, with this play Phaneuf proved he belonged as captain of the Leafs, keeping alive a long-standing tradition of disgracing yourself while wearing the “C” for Toronto. — RR
The Maiden Voyage Award
Despite David Krejci’s brilliance, the Bruins couldn’t get past the Hawks in a historic first Finals match-up.
Strange but true, when Original Six teams Chicago and Boston met in Stanley Cup Finals in 2012-13, it marked the first time these long-time rivals had ever competed for the title. Since the Hawks have been in existence since 1926 — two years after the Bruins began, it’s just so hard to imagine that they had never shared the big stage. But then again, Boston struggled for about 20 years (starting in the late 40s) as an almost annual also-ran and Chicago, after winning the Cup in 1961, picked up the also-ran mantle, going over 30 years before even getting back to the Finals. — RR
Luddite of the Year
Joffrey Lupul can’t wait to drive his horse and buggy home. (Torontosun.com)
As all sports trend towards more sophisticated — and accurate — means of statistical analysis, hockey has followed suit with Corsi, which establishes player values based on virtually everything that is happening when that player is on the ice. Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, however, does not exactly welcome this analysis as progress. He Tweeted:
“contracts aren’t awarded by this CORSI i am hearing all about. They are awarded for an equal value of skill and depth (at a certain position”
Lupul added yet another Tweet on the topic:
“If you bring certain attributes and you play to win. I’ll take you on my team 7 nights a week. Lets not look at this like Moneyball.”
Hey, Joffrey! You can’t stop progress, my man. By the way, do you still use a wooden stick? — RR
The Awkward Dating Moment Award
Oh yes, Roberto, you were always our long-term solution. Absolutely!
You’ve been dating two women on a casual basis for a couple of years now, and to be fair, they both deserve to be your exclusive squeeze. The older one is dependable, but unexciting, and frankly if you were going to build a future with her, wouldn’t you have already gotten rid of the younger, more inexperienced one? But when you finally look to ditch old dependable, no one wants her. Suddenly, you’re stuck bringing her back even though she knew you didn’t want her anymore. And now the younger one is gone and you’ve got to make all nicey-nice with old dependable. Awkward!
Such was the case with the Vancouver Canucks last summer, as they tried and tried to peddle Roberto Luongo and his bloated deal to no avail. They even considered buying him out, but on draft day, it was Luongo’s long-time heir, Cory Schneider, who was traded instead. And the Canucks were left to smile and politely welcome back a goalie they had spent most of the year trying to move. — RR
We hope to see you at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia sometime this summer. In the meantime, your moment of hockey zen is the 2014 World Junior Championship then the Winter Classic along with the Stadium Series games. Until then, aloha!
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what you think of our 2013 awards. Would you have picked differently?