There are people in many workplaces that work very hard, and very well for long periods of time but do not receive the accolades that they deserve. The Tampa Bay Lightning appears to have such a person in Steven Stamkos.
The 32-year-old forward recently reached 100 points in a single season for the first time in his NHL career. He also just surpassed Martin St. Louis as Tampa Bay’s franchise career leader in points. While not the dominant scorer he used to be, his all-around game might be as good as ever. Yet, he has been barely mentioned for any of the NHL’s awards. This is an oversight that should be corrected in 2021-22.
Stamkos Not Mentioned for Major NHL Award Consideration
Stamkos won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2010 and 2012, however that award is earned by being the NHL’s top goal scorer. For the two major awards that are voted on, the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award, he is barely mentioned, if at all, by the pundits who cover and make predictions for such awards. In fact, oddsmakers do not have any kind of line for him. Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid are the current favorites, and deservedly so, but he should merit some kind of consideration as well.
The Hart Memorial Trophy winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season. The Ted Lindsay Award is presented annually to the “most outstanding player” in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA. It is possible that the voters for these awards may consider Stamkos, especially since he has been hot of late. He has tallied 35 points in his last 18 games, including at least three points in each of his last five games.
It is more than likely that Stamkos will need to get considered for another award if he is to be rewarded for his remarkable season.
Stamkos Should Be Considered for the Mark Messier Award
The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award is given “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.” Suggestions for nominees are solicited from fans, clubs, and NHL personnel, but the selection of the three finalists and the ultimate winner is made by Messier, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. It should also be noted that no player has won the award more than once.
Recent winners include Patrice Bergeron, Marc Giordano, Wayne Simmonds, Derek Engelland, and Nick Foligno. Stamkos certainly is a name that could be easily included in this group too.
Stamkos has a long history of being a leader. He became the full-fledged captain for the Lightning in the 2013-14 season and wore the “A” going back to 2011-12. If you want to lead, most times, leading by example is the way and Stamkos has done just that.
During the team’s visit to the White House, President Joe Biden made a statement about leadership and the team’s success, saying “Led by your captain, a Lightning stalwart of 14 seasons, Steven – 14 seasons? You’re getting old, man. I’ve got to get some advice from Steven about this.” Nothing like the leader of the free world to acknowledge someone’s leadership skills.
The Lady Byng Should Be a Possibility for Stamkos
If Mr. Messier should decide to choose someone else for his award, there is another possible award for Stamkos. The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy would be an appropriate award. It is an annual award given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” The winner is selected in a poll of the PHWA.
This award does have a little bit of a stigma attached to it. Through the years, there has been a feeling that this award is given to a “soft” player, someone who some think does not embody the toughness that defines hockey players. For example, when former Toronto Maple Leaf Alex Mogilny won the Byng in 2003, he refused to show up and accept it.
If one takes a good, long look at the list of Lady Byng Trophy winners since the award started being given out in 1925, you see players such as Toe Blake, Dave Keon, Stan Mikita, Gilbert Perreault, Mike Bossy, Bobby Hull, Paul Kariya, Brett Hull, Pavel Datsyuk, and former Lightning standout Martin St Louis among the winners. Certainly not a list of “soft” NHL players.
It would certainly be fitting that in a year that Stamkos overtook St. Louis for the franchise all-time points leader, he can also join him as the winner of the Lady Byng.
With these options available, this would be an opportune time to reward a hardworking, skilled player in a season in which his all-around play might be among the best of his career.