Coyotes announce team awards; Smith MVP
The Phoenix Coyotes announced Saturday the winners of the team’s 2011-12 team awards.
Goalie Mike Smith won the Fry’s Food Stores Team MVP Award and the Ganem Jewelers Three-Star Award, while forward Ray Whitney won the Desert Schools Leading Scorer Award. Captain Shane Doan won the Jukka Nieminen Memorial Trophy, given to the player voted by the fans as the team’s hardest-working player, and goaltender Jason LaBarbera won the Gila River Casinos Man of the Year Award for dedication to the community.
Smith is having a standout season, posting a record of 34-18-10 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. The Coyotes broadcast media and Arizona Republic hockey writers voted for the team MVP award. With three games remaining in the regular season, Smith has already set career highs in wins (35), shutouts (7) and save percentage (.927) and posted the second-best goals-against average (2.29) of his career.
The 30-year-old native of Kingston, Ontario, was named the NHL’s Player of the Month for February after posting a remarkable 11-0-0 record while leading the League in wins. His 11-game winning streak set a franchise record and tied for the longest in the NHL this season. Smith has been selected as a star of the game 32 times this season and was named a star at Jobing.com Arena 19 times in 2011-12 to win the Ganem Jewelers Three Star Award.
Ray Whitney leads all Coyotes players in points with 24 goals and 51 assists through 79 games to capture the Desert Schools Leading Scorer Award. The 39-year-old native of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, became just the 79th player in NHL history with 1,000 career points when he notched his 1,000th and 1,001st in the Coyotes’ win over Anaheim on Saturday.
Shane Doan received the Jukka Nieminen Memorial Trophy as the Coyotes’ hardest-working player. The 35-year-old native of Halkirk, Alberta, ranks third on the Coyotes in scoring with 21 goals and 27 assist in 75 games this year. Doan has now scored 20 or more goals in 11 of the past 12 seasons. He also has collected five power-play goals and five game-winning goals this year. Doan was selected as the winner by the fans who voted on PhoenixCoyotes.com.
Jason LaBarbera earned the Gila River Casinos Man of the Year Award for his dedication, commitment and passion for bettering the lives of those in the community during his third season as a member of the Coyotes.
LaBarbera and his wife, Kodette, started the International Love for Lokomotiv Fund, which raised money for the families who lost loved ones in the KHL team plane crash in Russia. In addition, LaBarbera honored Arizona hero Pat Tillman by adding a picture of Tillman to his mask and donates $420 to the Pat Tillman Foundation after each of his wins.
LaBarbera and his wife also led numerous local initiatives for organizations including Ryan House, St Joseph’s Hospital, Children First Academy, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Gabriel’s Angels and are the co-chairs of the Fight for Air Walk on April 14 that benefits the American Lung Association.