Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins are among NHL players praised for certain attributes in The Hockey News‘ version of the NHL Awards, which calculates award winners using various metrics and has awards named differently than the ones set to be handed out in June.
Chara was selected for the Toughest Player award, named for Montreal Canadiens legend John Ferguson. He was praised not only for his imposing height and figure, but also for using restraint with that body and only getting rough or dropping the gloves when necessary. This season, he had 86 penalty minutes in 79 games, which is about the average for him these past few years, but he also finished with a career-best 52 points and a +33 rating.
Thornton was picked for the Best Fighter award, named for Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks enforcer Bob Probert. His 20 fights this season led the league (in a tie with Brandon Prust of the New York Rangers), and, while some of his better bouts have been covered here before, THN liked the fact that voters on HockeyFights.com selected Thornton as the loser in only four of his 20 bouts.
Although Bruins players did not win either of these awards, the THN version of the Norris Trophy (awarded to Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, a nominee for the Norris as well) is named for Bobby Orr and a Breakout Player award (given to Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues) is named for Cam Neely.
THN also handed out six awards to each team. The Bruins’ MVP is Patrice Bergeron, best rookie went to Jordan Caron, the team’s toughest player was also Chara, Brian Rolston won the comeback award, Chris Kelly was named the best bargain and Joe Corvo the most overpaid. THN refers to Corvo as an experiment gone wrong–I concur, and I hope the experiment is nearing its end, especially considering there are high-quality young defensemen in the system who could come up and replace him.
Sure, these awards may not have the same clout as the NHL Awards, but they are still nice distinctions. Plus, editor-in-chief Jason Kay selected Bergeron to win the Selke Trophy.