After nearly two decades, the Los Angeles Kings have earned a regular season award voted on the media. And just like it was two decades ago, it's the trophy given to the league's best defenseman. Drew Doughty won the Norris Trophy for the first time in his career on Wednesday, becoming the first King to earn the nod since Rob Blake in 1998. Despite two Stanley Cups and lots of postseason hardware, no Kings player had earned one of the big individual awards (Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder, Selke, Byng, Adams, or Lindsay) in this millennium; this puts an end to that streak.
For the past two, four, or six years (depending on who you ask) Doughty has been one of the league's best defensemen, and thanks to major successes in the Olympics and the Stanley Cup Playoffs he has been touted as such by many in the mainstream media. However, Doughty's lower point totals and the Kings' lackluster regular season performance prevented him from seriously contending for the Norris Trophy. This year, however, it seems like the media made a conscious choice to ignore the point totals, and when LA came through with a solid 2015-16 behind Doughty's team-leading 28 minutes a game, the door was open.
It certainly didn't hurt that runner-up Erik Karlsson has two Norris Trophies to his name already. Despite a historic campaign in which he led the NHL in assists and scored a point per game, Ottawa struggled mightily, and his perceived lack of defense took away enough of his support to give Doughty the edge. Brent Burns, of course, also had a terrific season with 27 goals and improved defensive play, but in his first year as a finalist he never really had a chance of shoving his way into the Doughty-Karlsson debate. (We weighed in on that debate here.) Burns' breakout playoffs came too late for the voters, which is a situation Doughty is familiar with.
Here are the vote totals; it probably wasn't as close as you thought it would be.
Norris voting. Not really close. pic.twitter.com/cBAsjjoFyx— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) June 23, 2016
And while we're here, how about OFFICIAL NORRIS-VOTE-GETTER Jake Muzzin?