The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”. It’s been given to such names as Wayne Gretzky, Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis. But what if there’s a player to whom you would never dream of giving the Lady Byng, someone whose past behavior has been, well, the exact opposite of that description? What if he suddenly looked like a dark horse for the award?
I would like to make the case for Mr. Patrick Kane, right winger for the Chicago Blackhawks. Laugh all you want, but this season is quickly becoming his best yet in every sense. Let’s break down Kane’s qualifications for this award. Keep in mind that we’re talking about just this season, so anything from his past doesn’t count.
First, there’s the sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. Kane’s been quick to praise his entire team in victory, never focusing on one teammate’s accomplishments but mentioning how their performance integrates with the rest of the team. He’s even blamed himself when the team loses, saying that he wasn’t good enough, as he did when the Blackhawks lost to the Anaheim Ducks. And don’t forget the fact that with only a handful of games left, Kane only has two penalty minutes to his name.
Then there’s the playing ability. Kane’s name is being mentioned on the list of potential Hart Trophy candidates for a reason. He’s been one of the biggest contributors on the Blackhawks, with clutch goals that make your heart race and shootout goals that dazzle even the most cynical fan. He has moves that you’d only see from Datsyuk himself. He’s in the top ten in the league in points, and his game in general has vastly improved from last season. Kane is becoming the elite player he’s said he wants to be.
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes on the Lady Byng winner, so there’s a slim to none chance that Kane would ever win it. But if he’s even nominated, once the howls of laughter have died down, people will surely see why he’s more than qualified.