Commentary

From Hart to Selke, our awards recap

Updated: June 23, 2011, 12:32 AM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Tim Thomas' season of dreams just keeps on giving, as the playoff MVP earned his second Vezina Trophy at the NHL awards Wednesday night.

A year ago, Thomas had hip surgery and didn't know whether he would be able to play at the level that had seen him earn his first Vezina back in 2009.

[+] EnlargeTim Thomas
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesTim Thomas is the first goalie to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and Vezina trophies in the same season since Bernie Parent did it in 1974 and 1975.

Not only did Thomas lead in most of the top goaltending categories from wire to wire during the regular season, but he also led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972 and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

He is the first netminder to win all three trophies in the same season since Bernie Parent did so with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974 and 1975. Parent sent a message via Twitter to Thomas welcoming him to "the club."

"That's the stuff I really enjoy hearing more than anything else," Thomas said when told of the rarified company he now keeps.

As for matching Parent's back-to-back accomplishments, Thomas said he hasn't set his goals for next season but that would be a fine one to have.

If there was a surprise connected to the Vezina voting conducted by the NHL's general managers, it was that Thomas' top competitor for the award was not Vancouver's Roberto Luongo but Nashville's Pekka Rinne. Thomas had 104 voting points to Rinne's 84; Luongo was third with 33.

Thomas, whose style of goaltending came into question during the Stanley Cup finals, figured his technique might not be for everyone, but it works for him.

"I think every goalie has to find their own style. I don't think my style is the perfect style by any means, but it works for me. You've got to take the tools that you have and make it work," Thomas said. "I'm kind of like the redneck of goaltending that duct tapes everything together. You give a redneck a job, and they're going to use whatever is available to do the job."

Perry's 'Whoa!' moment

The Sedin reign on the Hart Memorial Trophy was a short one, as Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry's late-season goal-scoring surge carried him to his first Hart. Perry edged Daniel Sedin by a 1,043-960 vote count. Sedin, the NHL's regular-season scoring champ, was trying to duplicate brother Henrik's feat of a year ago when he won the scoring title and the Hart trophy.

Perry, who also won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's top scorer with 50 goals, was on fire down the stretch, scoring 19 goals in his last 16 games to carry the Ducks into the playoffs.

Perry became a bit choked up as he accepted the award and thanked his parents.

"I don't know if it's really sunk in yet. It's pretty special," Perry said afterward. "I mean, you didn't know what to expect coming in, and all of a sudden, you hear your name and you're like, 'Whoa.' It surprised me, and like I said, I've got to give a lot of credit to my teammates. I've got a lot of family and friends here, so it's pretty special."

Had he thought about winning the NHL's top individual award?

"It's always in the back of your mind, but you're not putting pressure on yourself," Perry said. "To be here and to take everything in, it's been a fun time. It's one of those things you don't know what to expect and nobody knows."

[+] EnlargeKesler
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesRyan Kesler ranked fourth among NHL forwards in blocked shots (80), appeared in all 82 games and averaged a career-high 20:29 in ice time.

Selke doesn't trump Stanley

Don't think for a minute that NHL hardware eases the sting of a Stanley Cup loss. Ryan Kesler, edged by Pavel Datsyuk a year ago in the Frank J. Selke Trophy voting, won the award for the first time after taking 105 of 127 first-place votes and out-pointing runner-up Jonathan Toews 1179-476.

"I can't really put it into words," Kesler said. "To win when you're going against two of the top forwards in the league, it's pretty special."

Still, Kesler said the loss to Boston in the Stanley Cup finals last week will remain a sore point.

"It's two separate, complete things. Obviously, it's nice to get acknowledged, but at the end of the day, [the Cup is] the trophy we all want," Kesler said.

Still, it was a good night for the Canucks. Mike Gillis was named GM of the year, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider were honored for winning the William M. Jennings Trophy (lowest goals-against average during the regular season), and Daniel Sedin collected the Art Ross Trophy for his regular-season scoring exploits. Luongo also was nominated for the Vezina and Sedin for the Hart.

"It's still hard to swallow now, but I'm sure in the next couple of weeks, we're going to look back and realize we had a great season and we came one game away," Kesler said. "Obviously it wasn't our goal to come one game away; we wanted to win. But we did a lot of things as an organization that we've never done before. We won a Presidents' Trophy. We did a lot of things. Time heals all wounds."

Age is just a number

That plus-minus stat? It's wildly overrated, as Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom won his seventh James Norris Memorial Trophy with a minus-2 rating. Still, Lidstrom was full value for the honor in what was the closest race since 1996.

Lidstrom edged out Nashville captain Shea Weber by a 736-727 margin. For the record, Weber was plus-7 and Zdeno Chara was a whopping plus-33. Chara was hot on the Norris trail, too; he had 33 first-place votes, while Lidstrom had 35 and Weber 32.

Lidstrom had 62 points during the season, second among all NHL defensemen, and logged considerable ice time with injuries to other Detroit defensemen, including Brian Rafalski.

"When I came over, I was just trying to make the team," Lidstrom said. "I figured I'd stay a few years and see what it's like playing over here and then go back to Sweden. I never envisioned myself playing for 20 years and having the success that I've been part of."

[+] EnlargeDan Bylsma
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI/Getty ImagesDan Bylsma's Penguins finished the regular season in fourth in the East, despite their injury woes.

Hey, Coach!

It was no real surprise that Dan Bylsma was the winner of the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. That didn't stop his son, Bryan, from getting a little nervous as they were about to announce the winner.

"When they said my name, I was happy that he didn't have that disappointment," Bylsma said. "But it was a little nerve-wracking, I think, my first chance to get an award like this, of this magnitude."

Bylsma received 196 voting points, while Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was second (169 points) and Barry Trotz third (80). Bylsma joked that he didn't imagine he would receive the award from singer Donny Osmond, but it still turned out to be a great experience.

The self-effacing Bylsma said he felt a bit sheepish during the regular season when people were crediting him for his coaching acumen after top players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down with injury when it really wasn't that way at all.

"I'd like to tell you that I did something really marvelous to keep it going," Bylsma said. "But it was the players who simply came to the rink every day expecting to win."

And they did, earning home ice in the playoffs before losing in a seven-game set against Tampa Bay in the second round.

Rookie jitters

Quite an impressive year for Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, who went from being the youngest player in the NHL to capturing the Calder Memorial Trophy. Skinner squeaked past San Jose's Logan Couture by a vote count of 1,055-908. The margin of victory was the closest since Barret Jackman bested Henrik Zetterberg in 2003.

Skinner, who has become an instant fan favorite in Carolina with his boyish good looks, seemed a bit flustered when he got to the stage to accept the award.

"It felt like forever," Skinner said of his time in the limelight.

People started to laugh, he said, "and I don't think I made a joke. So I got a little nervous. Maybe I should have practiced more."

A little inspiration

It's hard to find a more inspirational figure than Philadelphia Flyer Ian Laperriere, whose career was likely cut short after he blocked a shot with his face against New Jersey in the 2010 playoffs. He returned later that postseason but suffered post-concussion syndrome in the offseason and did not play at all in 2010-11.

Still, he was still honored with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Laperriere still holds out hope he can return to action but said he would like to stay involved in the game in some fashion if he can't play.

"Hockey is my life. That's all I know," Laperriere said. "I found something 32 years ago. I'm not going to give it up that easily."

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.