I generally can’t stand award shows of any kind. It does not matter if it’s sports or entertainment I feel that award shows are just a major popularity contest and that the true winners generally don’t get crowned. However the PHWA changed my mind during this years NHL Awards because everyone who brought home hardware all deserved it. Earlier in the season, I noted how Adam Fox was making his case for the award and to not only be in the conversation but to take it home is a tremendous accomplishment for the young defenseman.
Whether it was Marc-Andre Fleury winning his first Vezina to Connor McDavid taking home the Hart via unanimous vote or even the most controversial award winner of the night via social media and that’s Adam Fox taking home the Norris.
While arguments can be made that Victor Hedman and Cale Makar are both better defensemen than Adam Fox is, the award is given to the best defenseman that season. With what he meant to the Rangers on the powerplay, shorthanded, and at even strength he was very clearly deserving of taking home his first Norris trophy. Simply put Fox was the best all around defenseman in the NHL this season, both traditional and advanced stats would generally agree.
I was truly skeptical on previous episodes of 30 on Broadway because I never thought that the PHWA would vote Fox to win after only having one full season under his belt. Thankfully they proved me wrong because they voted based on merit and not just on “who is the best” because if they were voting under that premise then Hedman should have absolutely run away with the voting. While it might not have been the “sexy” choice because as some NHL media members would argue that Fox beat up on the likes of the Sabres, Flyers, and Devils but that should not be something held against him. The same way those same media members would argue that fans should not hold the North Division being the weakest of the four divisions this season against the Montreal Canadiens.
To use the reverse of that argument against Fox naysayers, you could say that it would’ve been an indictment on Fox if he didn’t put up points against teams that were conceived to be dumpster fires.
People also need to remember that it’s not all about point production in who wins an award or quite possibly the worst argument in a player not receiving an award, if their team made the postseason. A player can have a tremendous individual season while his team lacks in team success and the lack of team success should never take away from a players on ice production. Fox was absolutely crucial for the Rangers this year in every aspect on ice and I am glad to see that the PWHA were able to look past old clichés and award a player on merit.
Also, for those of you upset that Hedman and Makar didn’t win, just know that they will be back. Hedman has been a Norris Finalist for five straight seasons and Makar is showing that he is one of the best young players, not just defenseman, in this entire league. Had he not been injured it is very likely that he would have taken home the award this year and that is a testament to how good he has been in his also short NHL tenure.
Fox becomes the first New York Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch to win the Norris and it was incredibly fitting for the former Ranger great to present the award to a future Ranger great. Finally on Broadway we have our defenseman of a Leetch caliber that we have desperately missed for so many seasons.Embed from Getty Images