Haggerty: Time for an Orr Trophy in the NHL?

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Haggerty: Time for an Orr Trophy in the NHL?

LAS VEGAS, NV -- The story of Bobby Orrs first season with the Bruins and the Norris Trophy is near legendary.

The Bruins icon was already well on his way to glory after one brilliant rookie season for a mediocre Bs team, and he finished second in the Norris Trophy voting behind New York Rangers defenseman Harry Howell.

Howell famously told reporters after learning about his Norris Trophy victory that: Ive been around for 15 years. Thank God Ive finally won the Trophy. Ive got a feeling that for the next 20 years it will be known as the Bobby Orr Trophy.

Orr went on to win eight consecutive Norris Trophies for the Black and Gold -- and revolutionized the defensemen position at the NHL level -- before his knees finally betrayed him.

But perhaps Howell knew something nobody could have possibly foreseen more than 50 years ago.

The results from Wednesday nights NHL Awards ceremony at the Wynn Resort and Casino once again screamed out the need to create a second award for the lunch pail NHL blueliners who PHWA voters seem to stay away from when voting for the Norris Trophy.

Erik Karlsson totaled a ridiculous 78 points in 81 games for the Ottawa Senators and narrowly squeaked out a Norris Trophy win over Shea Weber and Chara. But there are hockey followers arguing that Karlsson was not the best all-around defenseman in the NHL.

The Swedish phenom was seventh on his team in penalty kill ice time per game, and routinely stepped off the ice when the oppositions best offensive players went to work.

Meanwhile Weber and Chara did just the opposite.

They play big minutes in all situations offensively and defensively, and have no discernible weaknesses in their games while putting up respectable offensive numbers.

In fact, Chara posted career-highs in points and power play goals in the kind of offensive defenseman season that normally catches the eyes of PHWA voters.

The Sens sensation is an offensive wunderkind. Of that there is no doubt.

But theres a legitimate gripe when the NHLs best offensive defenseman takes home the Norris Trophy hardware and gritty hockey warriors are left as second or third best.

Now more than ever, all-around stalwarts like Chara and Weber have legit complaints about getting overlooked. Now more than ever the NHL has a chance to right this wrong, and create a pair of trophies for NHL defensemen during their annual awards ceremony.

Why not keep the Norris Trophy as it is, designed to be bestowed on the best all-around NHL defenseman capable of contributing offensively, shutting things down defensively and playing effectively in all situations on the ice?

Then create the Orr Trophy, given to the best offensive defensemen in the league.

Whether by vote or by simply giving it to the defensemen with the most points, it accomplishes the same goal.

Clearly Orrs days of defensemen putting up gaudy offensive numbers are long gone and difficult to find.

But there are still worthy candidates like Karlsson, Washingtons Mike Green and Winnipegs Dustin Byfuglien that could stand to be recognized simply for their offensive dominance in a different age.

Chara lauded Karlsson for his elite skill level and ability to change games at the offensive end of the ice after Wednesday nights awards show (and the bevy of celebrity one-liners that fell flat on the audience) was finished.

But the Bruins captain has been nominated for the Norris five times in his career, and has constantly fought an uphill battle against flashier offensive D-man types that burst onto the scene each season.

When asked about it, Chara said liked the idea of having two awards for defensemen.

Maybe it would be a good idea, Chara said. Maybe it would be something that we need in the future. If you really look offensive guys and forwards have a number of trophies. Now we have a coach and GM trophy for contributions to the team.

For the defenseman there is still only one. An Orr Trophy would be pretty neat.

It also might have a little more meaning to todays players if it were named after a living legend like Orr. Perhaps Orr could even present it every year, getting him involved in the NHL Awards show that could use more tradition and less hokey glitz. It certainly would help the criminally underrated all around defensemen get more recognition.

For blueliners like Chara and Weber that do everything the right way and embody everyones vision of a Norris-worthy defensemen, the addition of a second award for defensemen is only right.

An Orr Trophy is certainly what Harry Howell was thinking about a half-century ago.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats