Anze Kopitar finally received some recognition. The skilled forward was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy on Tuesday afternoon.
It's not a Selke or a Conn Smythe or some either more beloved award, but it is still a very worthwhile honor for one of the game's nice guys.
The Lady Byng is given out to the player that most exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly play while performing at a high level. In recent years, the award has simply gone to players with limited penalty minutes and decent point totals. Perhaps that was always the point of the award, it's tough to say. Given that his career high in penalty minutes is 32, Kopitar always seemed destined to be in the running for this award at some point.
This season, Kopitar notched 64 points in 79 games this season. During that time, he accumulated just 10 penalty minutes.
Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler were the other two players nominated alongside Kopitar. This is the sixth time that Pavel Datsyuk has been a finalist for the award, and he's already won it four times. At the other end of the spectrum, Hudler and Kopitar have never been finalists for the award, though Kopitar did finish fourth in Lady Byng voting back in 2009-10. Datsyuk picked up 65 points and just 8 penalty minutes over his 63-game season while Hudler notched 76 points and 14 penalty minutes over his 78-game campaign.
If Kopitar were to win the award, he'd be the first Los Angeles King to do so since Wayne Gretzky won back in 1993-94. Gretzky won the award three times as a King. Butch Goring and Marcel Dionne are the only other players to win the award while wearing a Kings uniform, and they won it once apiece.
Kopitar's award shelf is appallingly barren. The Slovenian-born center has been a finalist for a major, voted-upon award just one time in his NHL career, as he was named the runner-up for the Selke trophy a season ago.
We'll learn more about award nominations in the coming days. The winners will be announced on June 24 at the NHL Award Show in Las Vegas.