I have been to plenty of professional national conventions over the years. Though the usual rubber chicken du jour at the awards luncheons is not worth remembering, the individual accomplishments of those so honored usually rates a line or two. But how does that work at the NHL?
Currently on the NHL website is a headline stating that Mats Sundin received the Mark Messier Leadership Award. That's great. But why is the press release out of the NY office when it was presented at the awards luncheon in Pittsburgh today?
Even more mystifying is there is no reporting of the luncheon at all on the NHL site. Nor is there any mention of the other honorees. Why not?
If these awards are really all that important, then either have them presented during the League awards ceremony in Toronto in June, or at least give some type of significant public acknowledgment that they were finally presented.
Sure, the cognoscenti already know that Alex Ovechkin won both the Art Ross Trophy and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for leading the League in points and goals this past season. And we know that Chris Osgood and Dom Hasek have won the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded the goaltenders who play a minimum of 25 games for the team that allows the fewest goals during the regular season. Additionally, Vincent Lecavalier and Trevor Linden were presented with the NHL Foundation Award. Who else would have known? Not the "casual" hockey fan, for sure. Probably not most regular fans, either.
There was a small blurb about the awards luncheon in the Detroit papers but I couldn't find anything in the Pittsburgh papers - even though everybody in the press had been given the complete schedule of Stanley Cup Finals events when they received their credentials.
One recalls a great deal of publicity about the luncheon last year in Ottawa when Sid Crosby won major awards. So, in paranoid retrospective, maybe that is part of the problem. With Pittsburgh down 2-0 (or 7-0 depending how one interprets the data), perhaps publicly acknowledging any current Wings players, when that team is still playing and up 2-0 (or up 7-0 depending how one interprets the data), seems awkward. And perhaps acknowledging another young superstar (who many think a better all-round player than Crosby, "despite" being Russian), presents the same uncomfortable problems for the host city. Even more irritating, is the Detroit papers reported there were questions of whether Ozzie and Dom could even attend the 2PM luncheon today because of tonight's game. What kind of contingency planning is that for an award ceremony, when the honorees have no possibility of attending?
The NHL claims it can't solve the NBA/ NHL finals scheduling conflicts. But surely, the problem of doing a better job of marketing the awards ceremonies is not that difficult to solve. So solve it. Present the awards at the regular awards presentation in June. That way, all the fans who care to watch the ceremony may do so. More importantly, all the award winners will be on an equal footing and can then bask in the congratulations of their peers, instead of being hidden away and trapped in some hotel banquet room, staring at a bowl of cold soup.
Well, lo and behold! The NHL site posted the info on their site today. Guess it was too much to write up yesterday. But still, I just think this is exceptionally poor management of awards promotions. Again, because two of the recipients (Ozzie and Dom) couldn't attend.
I was also intrigued that last night NBC, while interviewing Ovechkin during one of the intermissions and mentioning his awards, and also panning the camera on Messier and mentioning the award he gives, made NO mention of the Jennings Trophy and its recipients. Guess it really isn't that important.