Despite our better judgement, Mina and I turned into the revamped NHL Awards yesterday, expecting long hours of folksy humor, kids in misspelled jerseys, and general coma inducing pacing that causes one to fall into a deep and terrible boredom.
I came away from the awards last year, (which we only watched to see who won the Vezina), feeling that the NHL had, perhaps, one of the lowest rent award shows in the history of professional sports. While I respected the attempts to stay warm, small town, family oriented, in what is a close knit sport, it made for bad TV. It felt like you watched all day just to get to one award. It wasn't pretty.
Pleasantly, Vegas seems to have offered the NHL a chance to become higher rent, and to eliminate some of the awkwardness that comes from having a host set the pace of the show. (see: Academy Awards/Oscars) JR was on stage so often, one could say he was a host of sorts, but he was also largely confined to the teleprompter and only ad libbed occasionally. (Would you expect anything less from one of the most outspoken players in the league?)
Mina and I could have also dealt without the musical interludes...especially the one "dedicated" to the fans. Thankfully, those were the only large speed bumps in a well paced, if not somewhat choppy and abruptly ending, road.
In terms of who won, there were no surprises. Luongo won some new fan award, which caused the crowd to shout something at him. It could have been "Looooooouuuuuuuu" or "booooooooooooooo", I'm not sure which. A full list of all the winners, as well as the first and second all-star teams can be found at the NYTimes Slap Shot Blog (and various other locations I'm not linking to).
So congrats to the NHL for managing to put together an awards show that didn't make the fans, both in the building and at home, want to stab their televisions. No idea how the players felt about the ordeal, but I doubt they were complaining about a few days in Vegas.