Monday, April 30, 2012

Award snubs fuel for Flyers' Cup run

If the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for any extra motivation on the road to the Stanley Cup, they found it in the award nominations for league MVP and NHL general manager of the year. Claude Giroux's exclusion as a Hart Trophy finalist is justifiable only to the extent that Evgeny Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Henrik Lundqvist are all equally worthy nominees, but Stamkos plays for a team that missed the playoffs and Lundqvist is a goaltender, resurrecting old arguments about whether the MVP voters are too enamored of personal statistics, and whether goaltenders should be disqualified from Hart consideration because they already have exclusive dibs on the Vezina and Jennings trophies.
Meanwhile, no general manager rolled the off-season dice like Philadelphia's Paul Holmgren, who gutted the team's core by trading franchise cornerstones Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, took a chance on Ilya Bryzgalov and Jaromir Jagr and was rewarded with a 103 point regular season and a first round playoff upset of Pittsburgh. With due respect to Nashville's David Poile, Florida's Dale Tallon and Doug Armstrong of St. Louis, Holmgren wasn't just effective - he was visionary...P.K. Subban's injury at the World Hockey Championships, while apparently minor, is proof enough of the perils inherent in accepting an invitation to represent your country at a relatively meaningless tournament. Considering what's at stake in Switzerland versus the bigger picture, Sidney Crosby did the right thing by staying home...It hasn't been a banner year for playoff beards, and one of the worst offenders is Washington's Jason Chimera, who looks like he's on his way to a barn-raising...St. Louis borrowed the Cincinnati Bengals blueprint for team-building at the NFL draft, where the Rams spent the 39th and 65th overall picks on a couple of guys as likely to open the season on probation as they are on the active roster. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have a lot in common - they're both projected as starters at cornerback, and they've both been tasered for resisting arrest. Jenkins has a particularly colorful background including multiple marijuana arrests and fathering four children by three different women, which if nothing else qualifies him to be an Afghan village elder if the football thing doesn't work out.

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