In a sport that prizes crunching hits and rugged players, it’s comforting there’s still room for an award for gentlemanly play.
The Lady Byng trophy, named for the wife of a former governor general of Canada, is given annually “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability,” as chosen by voters from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Assn.
This season’s finalists were announced Tuesday: San Jose forward Patrick Marleau, Colorado forward Ryan O’Reilly and New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis. The winner will be announced June 24 in Las Vegas, during the league’s annual awards show.
Is the Lady Byng an award that rough, tough hockey players really want to win?
“I think it would be nice to win any award,” said Marleau, who had 70 points and 18 penalty minutes this season.
Teammate Dan Boyle had a slightly different perspective.
“It’s not something you dream about. Unless it gets you a flight to Vegas. He’ll take that,” Boyle said after the Sharks practiced at Staples Center in advance of Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Kings.
“It goes to players that put up some good numbers and also don’t get penalized a lot and put their teams down. He’s one of those guys.”
Sharks Coach Todd McLellan took it more seriously than Boyle did.
“I’m really happy for him. Patty plays the game the right way,” McLellan said. “We see a lot of stuff that goes on where players are questioned about their ethics on the ice and suspensions and whatnot. He has a high skill level. He competes hard every night. He plays physical but he plays ethically the right way as do a lot of the players in the league, and that’s nice to see.
“Now, it doesn’t mean something doesn’t happen down the road and he crosses the line and you guys all say, well you told me he plays ethically.’
To this point he’s done a tremendous job for so many years, so it’s nice to see him recognized for that.”
O’Reilly had only one minor penalty all season, while scoring 64 points for the Avalanche. St. Louis, a three-time Lady Byng winner, had 10 penalty minutes — the fewest among the league’s top 20 scorers — and 69 points.
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