To Hell With the NHL Awards Show

Photo from the Hockey Hall of Fame

The NHL Awards Show happened Tuesday. It was terrible. Get rid of it.

Okay, I can’t say it was all terrible. Chris Snow and his family coming out to award the Norris Trophy was nice, as well as Brian Hamilton and Nadia Popovici coming out. But by and large– we don’t need award shows anymore.

Not only was it clunky, but it looked like most people would rather be anywhere else, the jokes didn’t hit, and then they cut off Kenan Thompson as he was trying to end the show. They announced the GM of the Year nominees, but then are going to make us wait until the Draft to get that answer; some awards were given out ahead of the show with video messages of the shortened acceptance speech, and it just all looked forced.

The idea of the Awards Show just feels archaic in that hacky feeling of everyone getting together in one spot for the end of the year. But especially when it comes to hockey, the idea of hearing cliched acceptance speeches, forced bits by the hosts, and trying to talk to nominees as if it’ll be a make-or-break trophy for them to win seems like it’s past it’s prime.

When it comes to awards, the NBA does it right. They announce it during the playoffs, if the player is still in it– they get acknowledgement from the crowd before playing, and then it’s over with. No need to fill up deadspace, no need to rent out an event center, player’s can give their usual responses post-game– everyone wins. It just seems like a slog trying to coordinate all of this when it’s something that well past it’s sell-by date.

Sure, there’s some veil of mystery and it’s not the worst awards show (that goes to NASCAR where everyone knows who won what during the last race); but it’s not something that should be given the TV time. Considering they rushed it off the air right at 8 PM ET, you could tell that it was merely an obligation to have it done rather than a necessity.

Times change, desire to see all the players/coaches/talking heads at an awards show isn’t as demanded anymore, and it’s treated as filler by most folks involved. Just get rid of it and announce it during the playoffs.

Fixing the NHL on TV: NHL Awards

In this format, I’m going to see what could be done by the NHL to help their off-ice product hit a little more with viewers and actually have people give a damn about what they throw on there. Also, what could actually be put onto the NHL Network or NBCSN or wherever and really hit hard. 

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I mocked the NHL Awards. I mocked it hard. I mocked it when broadcasting.

Outside of NASCAR, I think it’s the NHL is the only sport that has their awards banquet televised (EDIT: The NBA is putting their awards show on TV for the first time this year). To be honest, it’s very unnecessary and with all the dull sketches, terribly written banter, and awkward moments– shows that it doesn’t need to be on TV at all. But, if the NHL insists on broadcasting it– here’s some things to make it better.

POINT 1: Put it on NHL.TV: The TV aspect doesn’t work. Only 2.3-million people watched the Awards show across the three networks covering it. The fact you needed to actually span this out along with the Expansion Draft showed that no one cared. If you put this all on NHL.TV, not only do more people have to log onto the site and bump those pageviews, but it’s not a big thing for the ratings bug that the NHL, NASCAR, and WWE overly care about.

POINT 2: Don’t force celebrity hosts: Joe Manganiello is a lot of things, but a host of an award show, I don’t think he is. Of course, not entirely his fault, but there were so many other people that hockey people know that could have been in that position. Though, any team who has a host that pays attention to him would go over the top with that stuff, like Manganiello did– hell, if I was host and the Caps won, I’d be intolerable. But Jay Baruchel would have been great in that role, rather than a presenter, hell– put a host of the NHL on NBCSN or Sportsnet there; like Daren Millard or Liam McHugh there. Sure, they aren’t funny– but it’s not meant to be funny. Just put people out there who know how to move from one part to another in an almost seamless way.

POINT 3: Lessen Awkward Moments: Look, that Marcel Dionne thing is bad….like, Joe Namath bad. You know what could have helped that?? Not having odd-ball presenters that don’t have any kind of tie to each other or just meet seconds before they go out on stage. Sure, it’d be boring and all that, but if people know each other– you can have the awkward moments not happen and if there is a bind, they can get out of it better than most. Or just have the host be the presenter of every award, too.

POINT 4: Don’t give them away beforehand: I know there’s some awards we don’t care about as a whole, but if you have to give them away the day before– maybe they’re not worth giving away. Sure, the Expansion Draft helped bump those awards to the day before but maybe they were test driving awards not being televised. Sure, one of the awards was the Mark Messier Award, but as long as someone cares about winning it– they should get the accolades in front of the crowd rather than random assembled media. Of course, they shouldn’t have gotten bump– which leads me to….

POINT 5: Don’t combine anything with it: The Awards should be special and by putting the Expansion Draft with it lessens both allure. There was no need to combine them, especially when you saw how awkward Bill Foley and George McPhee looked on stage during the whole thing. Let the Awards breathe and speak for themselves. No need to mix anything with it.

POINT 6: Enough with the music: There’s no need for the Arkells to be there. I’m sure they’re great in their own right, but I’m sick of the music that the NHL throws at events that hockey fans are pretty “meh” about. Look at Neon Trees at the Draft Fan Fest this weekend– they were a “meh” pick. Is there a need for music?? Probably not– so let’s do away with it except for the All-Star Game and maybe the outdoor games.

Okay, that’s that– it’s the summer and it’s going to be stuff like this that could make things better or marginally watchable. That’s all I want to convey.

The Only Time That Splitting in Vegas Doesn’t Make Sense

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It seems that the worst idea has become truth, as the selections of the Expansion Draft will be made between the presentations of the NHL Awards. Five picks will be made every two awards according to some sources.

You’d think the NHL would give the Vegas Golden Knights some more respect.

For a team that is in a city that’s all about being bigger than life, having the 31st team in the NHL share time with the NHL’s best seems like the team is getting shafted right from the get-go. Other teams had some sort of an event by themselves, so you’d think that Vegas of all teams and places would be given the same respect. I mean, we won’t have those big boards with the placards of names of the players selected due to it all going digital; yet you would have hope the new players would be put on another pedestal rather than share the spotlight the rest of the league’s greats.

Yet, it does give people a reason to pay attention to the Awards, which have really been just cannon fodder for Twitter to make jokes about the winners, losers, visuals, and musical acts– and rightfully so. Sure, the Draft takes away the lack of caring when it comes to the Awards and when it comes to people not watching them.

Some of the winners may think they’re overshadowed, some of the new Golden Knights may feel the same way– but the NHL feels like they could save a few bucks by combining the thing, so why the heck not, right??

For the NHL, who has a problem with garnering attention, you’d think they’d be the ones to go ahead and make as many events and bring as much pomp and circumstance to this new arrival in the league as is humanly possible. Hell, I joke about Face Off Hockey Show having a 76-Hour Coverage of the Expansion Draft because it’s almost what the NHL needs to do for people to get very hyped about this team coming into the league.

While pairing it to the Awards is good for both things and not have to spend more when you don’t have to, my feeling is that it takes away from both events just enough to make them want to go ahead and separate the two. Luckily, with GM George McPhee’s speedy abilities to make picks, it will probably take little time out of the pauses between awards.