VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It's not the Oscars or the Grammys, but it's the NHL's time on the red carpet.
It's the 2006 NHL Awards Show, alive and kicking in downtown Vancouver.
ESPN.com NHL editor Joy Russo: All the "stars" have come out tonight, walking the red carpet. Messier, Gretzky, Bowman. You get the idea. Scott Niedermayer was interviewed on the CBC broadcast. That pouch of hair on top of his head is just scaring me. It's like Charlie Brown on crack.
ESPN.com senior coordinator Paul Grant: That's all well and good, but my mission tonight is to weasel my way into the crowd at the ceremony. I rented a tux and everything. We'll see if I can do it. My goal is to say hi to Scotty Bowman and eat canape with the stars. (Cue theme to Mission: Impossible.)
Russo: CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" co-host Ron MacLean is hosting the show here in Canada. He's wearing a zebra suit that looks like it's straight out of Don Cherry's closet. Almost every one of his jokes is not going over well.
Grant: My mission has hit an unforeseen snag: stuck in traffic. I wonder if Tom Cruise ever has this problem. "Wonder what they're going to do for the Olympics," my cabbie quips.
Russo: Ovechkin wins top rookie! He even dedicates part of his speech to his parents in Russian.
Grant: I'm with Buccigross -- Phaneuf's my boy.
Grant: I figured I'd see a moose in Canada.
Russo: The draft weekend is young. You might see some mullets, too.
Grant: Well, it's all over for another year. But they're all winners, really. I'm looking for famous people, but I haven't seen any yet. One thing's for sure -- there's more plastic surgery here than I expected.
Russo: And dental work.
Rock on, puckheads!
Russo: During an interview with recent Carolina Cup winners Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Staal and Cam Ward, they showed a close-up of the top of the Cup. There is a nice crack on it, so its summer tour will be delayed while Lord Stanley gets fixed.
Russo: And Jagr takes the Pearson Award. Will he go 2-for-2 and take the Hart Trophy, too? There has been some heated debates over whether the award should go to Jagr or San Jose's Joe Thornton, sparking an East Coast vs. West Coast argument.
Russo: MacLean has switched suit jackets, now wearing all black. Is he going for the most outfits in one show, a la Diana Ross?
Russo: Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wins coach of the year honors. An odd moment at the podium, at least in theory, as Ted Nolan (who Ruff replaced in Buffalo) was one of the award's presenters.
STAT GEEK MOMENT: Only one point separated Ruff (155) and runner-up Peter Laviolette (154) in the voting.
Grant: All right, folks, there happened to be a ticket set aside for me, so it wasn't such a con job after all.
Russo: Miikka Kiprusoff won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie. Flames coach Darryl Sutter accepted the award for the Finn. It was a very moving acceptance speech. Not! And monkeys might fly out of our butts.
STAT GEEK MOMENT: Kiprusoff was runner-up to Martin Brodeur in 2003-04. This year, Kiprusoff was the landslide winner, beating out Brodeur by almost 100 points.
Russo: The awards show even has musical acts. I have one question: Why? It must be a Canadian thing. This is where the Golden Globes get it right every year. NO MUSICAL PERFORMANCES.
Grant: Well, finally, I'm in my seat. No one said it would be so hot! Hey, 54-40! They rock. Great B.C. band to have providing music. But where's the mosh pit?
Russo: That would be for real bands like Pearl Jam? :)
Grant: Oh OK, good point.
Russo: The Courtnall Brothers! We haven't seen them in years.
Russo: Rod Brind'Amour wins the Frank J. Selke Trophy, best defensive forward. How many times has his nose been broken? What's the over-under on that?