World news – CA – JONES: Leon Draisaitl could make it a double on awards day


Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl (29) carries the puck as he plays the Nashville Predators at Rogers Place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

There was a time when the Edmonton Oilers almost needed to rent a U-Haul to bring all their NHL Awards hardware back to town.

Will Leon Draisaitl need a special container for a Fed-Ex cargo flight to Germany if he has the haul some people are predicting or expecting for the special coronavirus edition of the presentations of the major annual awards Monday before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

With the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top point-getter already getting his name engraved on it, the league’s top two awards could also end up Draisaitl property within the span of 30 minutes on a half hour special TV show created for the situation.

The league presented most of the awards one-by-one in pre-game segments throughout the two Conference Finals but saved the biggies for now. Like the other’s, they’ll still be “virtual” presentations.

A native of Cologne, Gemany, Draisaitl hasn’t returned to Edmonton to collect the other trophies that could be his. But almost two months after the Oilers made their early exit from Edmonton’s Hub City hosting, there may be something to cheer for.

Draisaitl is up against Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin for the NHLPA’s Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player with the same trio declared finalists for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.

Regardless of how Draisaitl might make out, the Oilers are returning to the spotlight in a big way for the presentation of the major awards that are normally (remember normal?) presented as part of a big glitzy show in Las Vegas.

I don’t know if they’re telegraphing anything or not, but if Draisaitl were to win the Ted Lindsay Award, it would be former Oiler and native son Mark Messier making the virtual presentation. And if he were to win the Hart Trophy, it would be Wayne Gretzky making the presentation via Zoom technology.

NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said not to read anything into the roster of former Oilers greats presenting all the awards. But his background is show business and …

Mayer, who normally builds the show in Las Vegas where the NHL has every expectation of returning again next year, said it seemed like something obvious to do.

“We’re in Edmonton,” he said. “Because we’re in Edmonton we figured we should keep up that theme.

Few franchises have had as many players win major awards since the WHA merger in 1979 as the Edmonton Oilers have won.

They’ve had 10 Hart Trophy winners, also won the Art Ross on 10 occasions, the Lindsay eight times and the Vezina once.

No Oiler has ever won the Calder, although Gretzky deserved it in 1979 but was ruled in eligible because he’d played in the WHA. Gretzky will also have the honour of presenting it. Candidates for the Calder as top rookie this year are Quinn Hughes, Dominik Kubalik and Cale Makar.

Coffey will present the Norris top defenceman award to either John Carlson, Victor Hedman or Roman Jossi.

Grant Fuhr will handle the honours with the Vezina with goaltenders Connor Hellebuck, Tuukka Rask and Andrei Vasilevskiy the finalists.

The NHL decided the major awards deserved a bigger spotlight than a pre-game show presentation like the other awards so they created this television event.

“Kenny Albert and Scott Oake will be hosting,” he said of the show that will air on NBCSN in the U.S. as well as Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

“We decided to do it inside the bubble and make the bubble part of the show,” said Mayer. “Most of the announcements and presentations will be done an hour or two prior to the show.”

There may be components from a lot of the ‘Return To Play’ projects in pro sport around the world that end up adopted for the future and with the NHL one thing might be the presentation of lesser awards, as is the case with the Academy Awards, before the main awards.

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