Recently named an All-Star starter, Detroit Red Wings centerman Pavel Datsyuk is enjoying a very nice season. He plays on the top line of the best team in the league and his name has been floated lately in very premature Hart Trophy discussions. Not bad for a 6th-round choice, eh? Now we here at MYFO aren’t questioning Datsyuk’s ability to give a full effort in the name of the team every night, but it’s been 5 long years since the Cup has come to Motown. That was his rookie season. Pavel, if you’re reading this, we’re onto you. If you really wanted more Cups for the Red Wings, you could have earned them by now. Instead, you’re more interested in personal accolades. And you’ve won your share, no doubt. After all, you are the two-time defending recipient of the Lady Byng Award, a trophy that honors a player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of playing ability.
Long story short, MYFO Nation. Pavel Datsyuk is out to win his third-straight Lady Byng, and it’s our job to STOP HIM.
With the season half over, Datsyuk is in great shape to get his name etched yet again on a trophy that allows us to honor some old Canuckistani cougar who had a thing for young hockey players, and somehow convinced her aging war hero of a husband to donate some silver from the china cabinet to support her lusty ways. Like I said, Datsyuk won this honor in both 2006 and 2007. His stat line from those years? Here you go!
2005-2006: 28 goals, 59 assists, 87 points, and 26 PIM (75 games)
2006-2007: 27 goals, 60 assists, 87 points, and 36 PIM (79 games)
This current season, Datsyuk’s on a pace to flirt with the 100 point barrier for the first time in his career (Repeat after me, Pavel. Thank you, Zetterberg.) Through 44 games, he’s already got 17 goals and 36 assists. Extrapolate that out over the rest of the season, and Datsyuk’s looking at a 32 goal, 67 assist, 99 point season. So if the Lady Byng committee thought the past two years were good, this season Datsyuk’s a lock to fill that whole high standard of playing ability requirement.
Sidenote: If you can put “Voting Member of the Lady Byng Committee” on your resume, you’ve done nothing with your life.
Now when it comes to voting for such an award, it’s pretty much a lock that voters simply grab the scoring leader stat sheet for the league and scan down the front page of Top 40 scorers and see who has the least penalty minutes. That’s a real shame, considering there are so many aspects of gentlemanly play that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. What if Jonathan Cheechoo offered to bake muffins for the opposing team to be eaten during TV timeouts? Where does that show up on your damned stat sheet? Anyways, with totals of 26 and 36, Datsyuk has shown that he commands self-control and is slow to commit a stupid penalty. 26 and 36 are numbers good enough to get Datsyuk a Byng. How is he doing this year? Let’s check.
That’s right, Chandler Byng has committed three minor penalties for the WHOLE SEASON. In the second game of the season, he got busted for tripping Tuomo Ruutu. Then he pulled it together for two weeks, when the refs busted him in Phoenix for high-sticking Derek Morris. Since October 20th, Datsyuk has only been to the sin bin ONCE, and that was for shooting the puck over the glass against the Caps. Really? Shooting the puck over the glass? Man, that one had to really chafe you, Pavel. Right before Christmas, no less.
Without MYFO’s interference, we can probably count on Datsyuk getting no more than 3 or 4 minor penalties before season’s end. That’s give him a 100 point season and 12 penalty minutes. With such a record, they may rename the freaking trophy after him. What are the words I’m looking for here? Right. HELL. NO.
It’s not that I have a favorite candidate for the award – I think it’s kind of stupid, really. I have no one I want to see win the glorified sterling urn. Just not Pavel Datsyuk. But Hextall, what can we do? We are but an anonymous blog reading puck fan collective? We’ll I’ll tell you, forced rhetorical plot device!
Write a letter to you favorite team’s designated “pest player.” You know, the Darcy Tuckers and Jordin Tootoos of the world. These guys have enough skill to play on a checking 3rd line, but not enough goonery to kick back on the 4th. And if they’re defensive-minded (read: can’t score), there’s a good chance they’ll get a few shifts against Pavel Datsyuk. There is nothing we can do about his scoring, but we can goad him into STUPID PENALTIES. You know, the crap ones that will really piss him off. Holding the stick, for example. WTF?
In addition, if you go to a game when the Red Wings are in town, do your best to distract our dear friend Pavel. When a player is distracted, he often needs to make an extra effort to stay with the play. This often leads to penalties. According to his player bio on the Red Wings’ website, Datsyuk “lists Jim Carrey as his favorite actor.” So practice you favorite lines from Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, and Dumb and Dumber, and yell them in #13’s general direction. He’s a sucker for them.
You have your homework, kids. Now go.