What the hell happened to the Sabres team awards?
With tomorrow night’s game marking the end of the Sabres’ home schedule, I’ve got a bone to pick with the organization.
Back in the day, before many younger Sabres fans actually became fans (remember Jason Botterill? No?), the home finale was always marked with the handing out of the team awards, recognizing players for their achievements over the course of the season.
This presentation has been absent over the past few seasons, and it took tuning in to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent ceremony to remember how nice it was to do this for the players and the fans. Why did they ever stop doing it in the first place?
After some brief research, the most recent record I could find of the award history came in the 2002-2003 media guide. Each publication since then has been completely stricken of any evidence, like such a thing never happened.
Now, I’ve had issues with the Sabres and how they run things over at Seymour H. Knox III Plaza, especially when it comes to game presentation and publications, and the way this has disappeared is just deplorable. I’m sure it’s too late to do anything about it now, but what’s stopping them from bringing it back? I’m gonna go ahead and say nothing but their own incompetence, but I could be wrong.
So, since they’re not going to do it, I’ll hand out this year’s awards.
Frank Eddolls Memorial Trophy (most popular player as voted by fans)
Ryan Miller, G
Miller has ascended to superstar status this season, and from his MVP-caliber play in Buffalo to his already legendary performance at the Vancouver Games, he has earned every bit of love he’s received from the fans this season. Easily the most popular player on the team right now.
Last five winners: 2001-02 – Martin Biron, 2000-01 – none, 1999-00 – Rob Ray, 1998-99 – Dominik Hasek, 1997-98 – Dominik Hasek
Memorial Trophy (most valuable player, as voted by players)
Ryan Miller, G
Players don’t just get a lot of consideration for the Hart or Vezina trophies without deserving it. Miller is still an odds on favorite to win the Vezina trophy and is one of the top candidates to be named MVP. As an unquestioned leader in the locker room and on the ice, it’s easy to see where the players would go with this.
Last five winners: 2001-02 – none, 2000-01 – none, 1999-00 – none, 1998-99 – Dominik Hasek & Miroslav Satan, 1997-98 – Dominik Hasek
Tim Horton Memorial Award (unsung hero, voted by fans and media)
Henrik Tallinder, D
While rookie phenom Tyler Myers has been a rock all season on the blueline, his partner has been often overlooked for his strong play. Tallinder has been rejuvenated by the pairing, rebounding from an awful season last year to being the team’s clear-cut #2 defenseman. Hank went from trade bait as a pending UFA after last season to being a likely candidate for a contract extension.
Last five winners: 2001-02 – James Patrick, 2000-01 – Rhett Warrener, 1999-00 – James Patrick & Stu Barnes, 1998-99 – Jason Woolley, 1997-98 – Alexei Zhitnik
Fred T. Hunt Memorial Trophy (best rookie, as voted by fans and media)
Tyler Myers, D
There’s no room for argument here. Myers has been a revelation this season, and has been a Calder trophy favorite since October. Myers could be the first Sabre to take home the Calder since Tom Barrasso in 1984. This is what a franchise defenseman looks like.
Last five winners: 2001-02 – none, 2000-01 – Dmitri Kalinin, 1999-00 – Martin Biron, 1998-99 – none, 1997-98 – none
Star of Stars Trophy (best performance in home games by three star selections)
Ryan Miller, G
Miller was a relative runaway winner in this award. Miller was named first star in five of the 40 home games and second star in five others. Ryan has had so many strong outings this season at HSBC Arena, this is not an upset. Thomas Vanek was second and Tim Connolly third. The last Sabres skater to win this award was Alexander Mogilny in 1992-93.
Last five winners: 2001-02 – Martin Biron, 2000-01 – Dominik Hasek, 1999-00 – Martin Biron, 1998-99 – Dominik Hasek, 1997-98 – Dominik Hasek
Punch Imlach Memorial Award (dedication and leadership)
Craig Rivet, D
As a senior member of the roster, it’s hard to argue against Rivet’s qualifications. The captain has battled all season and has been a leader by example on the ice in sticking up for teammates and showing effort. While his play has slipped, the guy has shown why he wears the “C” on his jersey.
Last five winners: 2001-02 – Stu Barnes, 2000-01 – Stu Barnes, 1999-00 – Rhett Warrener, 1998-99 – Michael Peca, 1997-98 – Michael Peca
So, Buffalo Sabres employees, whenever you wanna stop disregarding the team’s history and go back to doing the awards, feel free.