Senators’ MacLean, Alfredsson win NHL awards

The Ottawa Senators capped their adventurous 2012-13 season by picking up two NHL awards on Friday.

The Ottawa Senators capped their adventurous 2012-13 season by picking up two NHL awards on Friday: Paul MacLean was the runaway winner of the Jack Adams award as the coach of the year, while Daniel Alfredsson won the Mark Messier Leadership award.

Eight awards were presented Friday in a live, hour-long television broadcast.

Because of the lockout and the compressed schedule, the NHL cancelled its usual awards gala in Las Vegas.

Five more awards will be presented Saturday in another hour-long broadcast before the start of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The other winners on Friday were Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild, who took the Masterton Trophy, for perseverance and dedication; Patrice Bergeron, who won the King Clancy Trophy for his leadership on and off the ice; Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play; Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward; Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who was named general manager of the year; and Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings, who won the NHL Foundation Player Award, to the player who applies the core values of hockey to enrich the lives of people in his community.

Zetterberg will also get a $25,000 grant to support causes in his community.

MacLean, who was hired two years ago Friday, won for his work holding an injury-riddled team together and getting it into the playoffs.

Defenceman Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, was limited to 17 games. Defenceman Jared Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft, was sidelined for all but seven games.

Top forwards Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek played in just five and 23 contests, respectively, and starting goaltender Craig Anderson appeared in just 24 games.

That led to a youthful lineup that included a league-high 14 rookies making at

least one appearance.

Despite that, the Senators were the top defensive team in the Eastern Conference, allowing an average of 2.08 goals-against per game).

MacLean was a top-three selection on 56 of the 83 ballots cast, including 28 first-place votes, for 206 points, ahead of second-place Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks (22 first-place votes, 160 points). Points are allocated on a 5-3-1 basis for first through third place.

MacLean becomes the second Ottawa coach to win the Jack Adams Trophy. Jacques Martin was nominated three times for the award and won in 1999.

“I’m very proud for myself, my family, and especially the Ottawa Senators organization for what it has gone through this year,” said MacLean.

He said the first few weeks of the season were tough, as player after player fell through one injury or another.

But with help from his veterans, the message got through: no feeling sorry for yourself.

“We had to find a way to win,” said MacLean. “That’s what good teams do.

“We couldn’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just couldn’t.

“But as much as it might have been me, a ton of credit goes to Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips, and Chris Neil,” said MacLean.

“They were the four veterans still in the lineup and they did an incredible job of leadership, showing the young guys what it takes day in and day out to play in this league.”

This was MacLean’s second straight nomination as coach of the year.

Last year, he and former New York Rangers coach John Tortorella were runners-up to Ken Hitchcock of the St. Blues.

This was the third major award Alfredsson has won in his career, after the Calder Trophy in 1996, and the King Clancy Trophy in 2011-12.

He finished second and fourth in Lady Byng Memorial Trophy voting in 2003–04 and 2005-06, respectively, third in Selke Trophy voting as the best defensive forward in 2005–06, and third in voting for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2011-2012.

“This is a tremendous honour and it means a lot,” said Alfredsson.

“It’s a great award because it recognizes all the work you do on and off the ice, and especially coming from a guy like Mark Messier, who exemplifies hard work and leadership in our game.

“This is a great day for our organization. For Paul to win this year and to be nominated last year is quite an accomplishment. It’s very well deserved.”

Alfredsson said he hasn’t started to think about whether he’ll play next season, but said over the next few weeks he will begin talking to people and “see where it leads.”

For MacLean, getting to the NHL was a long road for MacLean.

He had had nothing but success as a coach after his 11-year NHL career ended in 1991.

In eight seasons as a head coach in the minors with the Quad City Mallards, Peoria Riverman, and Kansas City Blades, he got his teams to the playoffs seven times, winning the United Hockey League’s Colonial Cup championship with the Mallards in 2001.

And as an assistant to Mike Babcock in both Anaheim and Detroit, he went to the Stanley Cup final three times, once with the Ducks and twice with the Detroit Red Wings, winning with the Red Wings in 2008.

But still he waited, got passed over, and wondered if he’d ever get a chance to be a head coach in the NHL.

It took 18 years before Senators general manager Bryan Murray – who had previously hired MacLean as an assistant in Anaheim – called.

It might have been Murray’s best move as general manager of the Senators, certainly as important as moving up in the 2008 draft to select Erik Karlsson.

After burning through John Paddock, Craig Hartsburg, and Cory Clouston, Murray got a winner in MacLean.

MacLean said he always felt he had the ability to be an NHL head coach but did have moments of doubt that he’d ever get the chance.

All he could do was continue to work hard, and in the end it all paid off. The award shows that he was right to believe he could be an NHL coach.

“Now I’m scared to death,” he said, “because I have to do it again.”

Of Alfredsson’s award, MacLean was effusive.

“They could rename it and it could be (the) Daniel Alfredsson (Leadership Award),” he said.

“In the two years I’ve been here, he’s been a tremendous help for me. I think it is very well deserved, especially this season.

“He was by far the best captain in the NHL, with what the team went through,”

Alfredsson was selected in the sixth round of the 1994 draft with the 133rd pick from the Frolunda Indians in Gothenburg.

After 17 seasons with the Senators, Alfredsson holds every significant team regular-season record – goals (426), assists (682), and points (1,108) power-play goals (131), shorthanded goals (25), game-winning goals (69), shots (3,320) and games (1,178) – and every significant team playoff record: games played (121), goals (51), assists (49), points (100), power-play goals (25), game-winning goals (11), and shots (367).

Last summer, Alfredsson took until July 31 to decide to return for at least one more season.

His 2010-11 season ended in February, after just 54 games, because of back problems, but after surgery during the summer, he bounced back and played 75 in 2011-12.

His back held up fine but during the season he suffered two concussions, the second and third of his career.

The first came during an Oct. 29, 2011 game against the New York Rangers, when he was hit by forward Wojtek Wolski, while the second came during the second game of the playoffs when he was hit by Ranger forward and fellow Swede Carl Hagelin.

After the Hagelin hit, Alfredsson returned after missing three games, but questions were raised whether he had returned too soon after the most uncharacteristic behaviour of his entire career: a skate-stomping, stick-throwing tantrum in Game 6.

But if there were any doubts about his health, they faded with his decision to join Sweden for the world championships, just days after the series against the Rangers ended.

Alfredsson, the Swedish captain, was anxious about the chance to win a gold on that stage, which he had never done.

But when the Swedes were eliminated before the medal round by the Czechs, on a goal in the final seconds by Ottawa teammate Milan Michalek, Alfredsson had suffered his second crushing loss in a matter of weeks and sounded as if he had had enough.

In an interview immediately after the game with Swedish radio, he suggested he could have played his last competitive game.

“I do not know if the power is still there,” he said.

So it was relief that Ottawa fans heard his announcement on July 31 that he would return.

Now they wait again.

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