The Latest on the NHL Awards show (all times local):
A full 25 years after he appeared in the first of two Mighty Ducks movies, Kenan Thompson was happy to get another taste of hockey.
The “Saturday Night Live” veteran reminisced about his hockey history when he hosted the NHL Awards show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Thompson said he didn’t know how to roller skate before he was cast as the knuckle-puck-shooting Russ Tyler in “D2: The Mighty Ducks” in 1994. But he and his acting teammates went through an eight-week camp and learned to play before shooting.
Thompson said the film was a pivotal moment in his life — and not because of the popularity of the movie, but because of the role he felt it played in helping the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks grow a fan base in their first few years after entering the league in 1993.
“We really started taking it serious, and we felt super responsible for all that kind of stuff happening,” Thompson said. “It’s just been a magical part of my life. I always thought I’d just be a fan, eating popcorn, watching games. But I’m so glad to have this relationship with the NHL. It’s really nice. I’m always down to do whatever they ask.”
Thompson said he likes the New York Rangers because he gets to see many of their games live, but admitted he enjoyed attending the 2018 Stanley Cup Final and seeing the Washington Capitals hoist the trophy, despite not knowing many of their names prior to the playoffs.
Calgary’s Mark Giordano has won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman.
The 35-year-old Giordano won the Norris for the first time in a 13-year NHL career spent entirely with the Flames. Giordano beat out two vaunted finalists: San Jose’s Brent Burns, who won it in 2017, and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, who won it last year.
The Calgary captain was instrumental in the Flames’ breakthrough season, leading the NHL with a plus-39 rating while regularly playing against opponents’ best lines. Giordano also scored a career-best 74 points and played more than 24 minutes per game.
Giordano is the fourth defenseman to win the Norris at 35 or older, joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Doug Harvey and Al MacInnis.
Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov has won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player according to the NHL Players’ Association members.
Kucherov also is favored to win his first Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player later in the NHL Awards show at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Kucherov, who turned 26 on Monday, emerged as a dominant forward during his superlative season with the powerhouse Lightning. The Russian right wing won the Art Ross Trophy with an NHL-best 128 points, finishing with a career-best 41 goals and 87 assists.
Wild forward Jason Zucker won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian contributions to hockey. Zucker, who is from Las Vegas, has done extensive fundraising for children’s causes in Minnesota.
Boston’s Don Sweeney has been named the NHL’s General Manager of the Year, and Florida center Alexander Barkov has won the Lady Byng Trophy as the player best combining sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability.
Sweeney has built a consistent winner since the longtime Bruins defenseman took over the front office in 2015. Boston reached the Stanley Cup Final this season, losing in seven games to St. Louis.
Barkov scored a franchise-record 96 points for the Panthers, yet he committed just four minor penalties while playing more than 22 minutes per game. The Finn was a Lady Byng finalist for the third time in four seasons.
Barkov drew a few laughs when he apparently heard a few shouts in Finnish as he took the stage to accept his trophy.
“We have more fans from Finland than Florida here,” Barkov said.
The other Lady Byng finalists were St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly and Calgary’s Sean Monahan.
San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton will turn 40 on July 2, and he can’t wait to get back on the ice when training camp begins in September.
Walking the red carpet at the NHL Awards on Wednesday, Thornton put to rest any speculation he would retire after 22 years.
“I take it year by year, and I think that’s a healthy way to do it,” he said. “I was relatively healthy this year, which was nice. I don’t have to rehab this year, which is great. The training aspects are much different than they used to be. I think the physicality is there, but I think it’s less. The guys’ bodies don’t wear down like they used to. Nutrition is good. It’s a combination of everything that allows players to play a little longer these days.”
Thornton doesn’t have a contract with the Sharks for next season, and the $92 million, eight-year deal given to defenseman Erik Karlsson this week could complicate his return.
Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson has won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie.
The 20-year-old Pettersson beat out St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington and Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin for the award. Pettersson joins Pavel Bure (1992) as the only Calder winners in Canucks history.
Pettersson provided an offensive jolt to the Canucks in his first North American season, scoring a goal on his first NHL shot and seamlessly adapting to the world’s best league. One year after Vancouver drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 2017, Pettersson posted a rookie-best 28 goals and 38 assists as a tremendous playmaker with a wicked shot.
Pettersson is the 31st player in NHL history to lead all rookies in goals, assists and points.
The biggest names in hockey are at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the annual NHL Awards show.
The NHL hands out its regular-season trophies Wednesday night at a star-studded event hosted by Kenan Thompson and featuring presenters ranging from Canadian game show host Alex Trebek to St. Louis Blues superfan Jon Hamm.
The finalists for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player are Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov, Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby and Edmonton center Connor McDavid.
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