Frank Fernandez The Hockey Writers
The Hawkey Awards 2017
Welcome to the 2017 Hawkey Awards, where we recognize those standout Blackhawks from the 2016-2017 regular season. The Hawks have been soaring all season and head into the playoffs as the best in the West with 108 points. An overtime loss on Monday night in Denver means no Presidents’ Trophy this season, but the Blackhawks have recorded their most wins in a season since 2009-2010. This may be for the better, as the past three Presidents’ Trophy winners have not made it to the Stanley Cup Final. There were some tough decisions, but ultimately, these are the most deserving. Let’s take a look at the lucky winners below.
Most Valuable: Patrick Kane
There’s not much debate when it comes to this selection as Kane has continued his torrid pace from last season. He leads the team in points with 88 (34 G, 54 A) and has been a cornerstone of the franchise for the last decade. Down the stretch, ‘Showtime’ has been showing up, scoring 19 goals and adding 20 assists since the all-star break. This offensive outburst has coincided with the Blackhawks snatching the top spot in the Western Conference. If Kane can continue to deliver during the postseason (as he has his whole career), Chicago will be in good shape for another title run.
Honorable mention: Artemi Panarin; Duncan Keith
Eyas of the Year: Ryan Hartman
For those of you who may not know, an eyas is the name for a baby hawk, so this award goes out to the best rookie. Ryan Hartman has been a feisty two-way threat for the Hawks in his rookie campaign. A native of West Dundee, Ill., Hartman grew up as a fan of the Blackhawks and has made the most of his opportunities with his childhood team. He leads all Hawks rookies with 31 points (19 G, 12 A) and ranks second with 119 hits. This fiery play is also reflected on the defensive side as he has registered 35 blocked shots and 29 takeaways, some of the highest numbers among wingers across the roster. This was a tough choice between Hartman and fellow rookie Nick Schmaltz, but it came down to Hartzy’s playmaking that landed him the hardware.
Honorable Mention: Nick Schmaltz; Tanner Kero
Most Improved: Richard Panik
In his first season with the Blackhawks, the Slovakian played in only 30 games and registered a meager eight points during his limited action (6 G, 2 A). This was an all-too-common occurrence for Panik, who bounced around between nine North American teams (both junior and professional) since his first arrival on the continent. After his performance this season, it seems Panik has found a home with the Blackhawks. He has played in all but two games this season and turned into a legit offensive weapon on the first line with Toews and Schmaltz. Panik has upped his output to 44 points (22 G, 22 A) and also leads the team with 145 hits. His aggressive nature is a welcome addition to coach Joel Quenneville’s team. He also has jaw-dropping ability, which we will showcase in a Hawkey coming up.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Toews; Marian Hossa
Moment of the Year: Hossa Joins the 500 Club
On Oct. 18 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Hossa became the 44th player in NHL history to reach the 500-goal mark. This milestone score came during a 7-4 victory for the Blackhawks at the United Center. He is the fifth Blackhawks player to score their 500th with the team (Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Michael Goulet, and Peter Bondra). In seven seasons with the Blackhawks, Hossa has tallied 186 goals (and counting).
Honorable Mention: Corey Crawford wins his 200th game; Panik’s painful assist against Boston
Goal of the Year: Panik’s Beauty vs Pittsburgh
We already highlighted Panik for his overall improvement, but this Hawkey goes out to him for his slick highlight-reel goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Mar. 1. Late in the second period, the winger weaved through the defense with a between-the-legs deke off his skate and sent a wicked wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to break a 1-1 tie. The Blackhawks would go on to win this match-up, 4-1.
Honorable Mention(s): Patrick Kane’s shootout goal vs Dallas; Kane’s mid-air goal vs Montreal
Save of the Year: Darling’s Miraculous Stop vs Dallas
On Nov. 6, the Blackhawks and Dallas Stars were entrenched in a heated overtime battle at the United Center. Dallas looked to have an open net to end the game, but Scott Darling had other ideas. The usual back-up goalkeeper stuck his right leg out and stopped the puck with his skate, resulting in one of the saves of the year in the NHL. As announcer Eddie Olczyk eloquently puts it, “A skate save and a beauty!” The miracle save kept the Blackhawks alive and they ended up winning thanks to a goal by Marian Hossa late in the extra period.
Honorable Mention: Corey Crawford’s diving stick save vs Colorado; Crawford’s glove save vs Dallas
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