Carolina Hurricanes defender Jaccob Slavin deserves the Lady Byng
As the NHL awards nominations are announced there is a Carolina Hurricanes defender that many agree should have been a finalist for the Lady Byng.
There are a lot of awards and trophies that have nominations right before the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For most of these awards and nominations, there isn’t much in the way of controversy as many of them are clear cut such as the Calder Trophy or the Vezina.
When it comes to the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability, there has been incredible pushback on two of the three nominations and a mention of a Carolina Hurricane who, all bias aside, should be in the running officially.
The fact that O’Reilly is on the nomination is understandable but concerning. This is the man who was arrested for what is probably the most Canadian crime ever, driving drunk into a Tim Hortons. But the more serious question is how did Auston Matthews get nominated?
What did Matthews do, you ask? I will let Hemel Jhaveri, Sports Writer for USA Today’s For the Win explain it to you:
Now what Jhaveri didn’t mention is the fact that this security guard frantically got in her car and locked it as an NHL player tried to force his way into said car. When he failed to do so in his drunken stupor he did what every non-gentleman would do, he literally showed his a**. It is embarrassing for the league that he has been nominated.
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But Omar, you ignorantly say, The Lady Byng is for gentlemanly action ON the ice, not off it! Who cares what happens off the ice, this is about penalties!
Ok fine, while this is not true, let’s play by these ignorant rules and bring up the time that Matthews asked a player to turn around so he can read his nameplate in an act that says “who are you even, to come up and talk to me, the superstar?” That is not very gentlemanly.
Now granted, at this point, this award is Nathan MacKinnon’s to win hands down. If Matthews wins it, the Professional Hockey Writers Association, which votes on the awards, should be completely disbanded and a new one stood up in its place because there is no way that should be acceptable.
In full disclosure, CardiacCane is not part of the PHWA.
But on to the only actual competition to MacKinnon. That is Jaccob Slavin. Slavin is a shutdown defensive machine. And he rarely takes penalties. In fact here are all five penalties Slavin took this season:
But the Lady Byng has a history of shunning defensemen. Since 1954 there has only been a single defender to win the Lady Byng. That man was Brian Campbell in 2012. That isn’t surprising. Defenders are supposed to be mean and aggressive in protecting the defensive zone. They draw penalties when needed and are the last line of defense before the man in the mask.
So the deck was stacked against Slavin simply historically. But that hasn’t stopped him from having a season that would put him on top of any defender in the history of the sport when it comes to the Lady Byng.
This season he has managed to separate the puck from a player with his stick 169 times. That is second in the NHL. The number of penalties drawn while doing so? One. Once. Singular.
Those are the statistics, but there are also the non-quantifiable attributes that should be considered. Slavin is probably the most wholesome player in the entire league. Not only does he hold himself to a standard most players would never consider when it comes to mannerisms and behavior, but he doesn’t have a single ounce of ego in him.
This is the man that slowly rolls his truck out of the PNC gates to make sure no fan seeking his autograph misses the chance as his teammates zoom around him to get home to their families. This is the man who has adopted a baby girl of color to raise as his own. Many fans have stories to tell of his gentlemanly ways and his kindness.
I remember being at the Canes Bash, in the Casino section sitting next to him playing blackjack. He would randomly give fans his chips, and even free advice as we all sat playing and laughing. He stayed as long as possible to ensure that everyone had a chance to enjoy their night. That is a gentleman worthy of the Lady Byng.
It’s too bad that most of the PHWA couldn’t see it. Perhaps it is time for many of them to retire and let in a new wave of writers.
Question for CC Readers: How do you think that Jaccob Slavin should have been a finalist over Matthews or O’Reilly?