Preds come up empty in awards related to on-ice, but Mike Fisher takes home the NHL Foundation Award.
By JOHN MANASSOFS Tennessee
The Nashville Predators came up empty on Wednesday in terms of awards related to on-ice competition at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, but center Mike Fisher did take home the NHL Foundation Award.
The league presents the award to the player who "applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community." Fisher, who is married to country music star Carrie Underwood and whom the Preds acquired in February 2011, will receive $25,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.
Among his activities, Fisher donated $40,000 to Cottage Cove Urban Ministries, which helps at-risk children in one of Nashville's inner-city neighborhoods. Fisher also has donated his time at numerous other Middle Tennessee charities. He bested the New York Islanders' Matt Moulson and Toronto's John-Michael Liles to win the award.
However, when it came to awards for hockey, the Preds failed to take home any hardware for the second consecutive year. In what might have been one of the night's more surprising vote tallies, Shea Weber finished second in the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) balloting to Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, 1,069 to 1,057.
By far, Karlsson amassed the most points by any defensemen in the NHL this season with 78. Weber finished with 49, but the two players tied for league lead in goals by a defenseman with 19. In addition, Weber plays a physical game and is a much better defensive player. Weber finished with a plus-21 rating, seventh-best among defensemen, while Karlsson's plus-16 ranked him 17th. Also, Karlsson averaged only 33 seconds per game on the penalty kill, seventh on his team; most teams only dress six defensemen per night. Weber averaged 2:16 per game short-handed.
The Norris is voted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Weber also runner-up last season to Boston's Zdeno Chara.
Predators general manager David Poile was a finalist for the league's Executive of the Year Award, which was won by St. Louis' Doug Armstrong. The Blues finished ahead of Nashville in the Central Division. Poile also was a finalist for the award the past two seasons, its only years of existence. The award is selected by the general managers.
Like Weber, Pekka Rinne fell short for the second consecutive season after being a finalist for the best at his position, the Vezina Trophy. The New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist took home the award. The Vezina is voted on by the league's general managers.
Rinne also was one of two players who were finalists to appear on the cover of EA Sports NHL13 video game. The winner, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, also was announced on Wednesday at the ceremony. The voting was done online through the NHL.com website.
Last season, Preds coach Barry Trotz was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award (best coach, as voted on by the league's broadcasters association) but lost out to Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma.
During training camp last year, Trotz mentioned how the offseason began on a negative note with the team failing to win any of the major awards. That trend continued, as the Preds could not conclude a long-term deal with Weber (he received a one-year arbitration award) and then former player and broadcaster Wade Belak died just before the start of the season.
Last week at a news conference, Poile said that regardless of whether or not he won, he would still be the same GM whether he won. He has plenty of work on his hands these days. The draft is Friday in Pittsburgh, where there is expected to be some wheeling and dealing in terms of trades, and he has 15 free agents with whom to deal.
By June 30, the Preds have to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents if they want to retain their rights and on July 1 unrestricted free agency begins. The Preds hope to retain the services of pending UFA All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter, but Poile has said repeatedly in recent days that he expects Suter to test the market.