The definition of NHL awards can be interpreted differently, The Hart Trophy is supposed to go to the "player judged most valuable to his team" and the Norris Trophy goes to "the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position." But it seems we have a conversation every year about the true meaning of these awards, does the Hart go to the League MVP, because how could anyone be more valuable to their team or does it go to a player that you'd take off of a roster and that team wouldn't have achieved the same success. Is the Norris awarded to the defensemen who is best at defending or do they need to have a strong offensive game to be considered.
As a reminder the Timmy goes to the player who "garnered the most hate from Sabres fans despite anything positive they may have done." As we found out in the comments of the original thread the definition of the award was no different than other NHL awards and was interpreted differently by different people. Some felt that the award should go to the player who inspired hatred from the fan base no matter what they did even if they didn't do anything positive. Others felt that you had to do something positive to be considered for the Timmy as this award was about irrational hatred of a player who contributed to the success of a team.
The results of the poll for the 2014 Tim Connolly Award wasn't even close. The people have spoken and they spoke loudly. Ville Leino is the player who has garnered the most hate despite anything positive they may have done during the 2013-14 season. As I am writing this Leino earned 53% of the votes with no other player receiving more than 8%. That's a Niagara Falls size gap between 1st and 2nd.
Now, let's get into dissecting the season that Ville Leino had that led him to winning this prestigious award.
What do we hate:
- The Stat Line- 0 goals, 15 assists, 15 points in 58 games; -16. As mentioned in the original post, the main thing to hate this season was Ville's lack of offensive production during the year. Zero Goals is an incredibily hard thing to do for an NHL forward who plays in as many games as Leino and isn't considered an enforcer or goon type player. Leino is the most expensive forward in the NHL who failed to record a goal this season. The second most expensive forward was Jordin Tootoo, who spent most of his time in the AHL and played in 47 less games than Leino, if you were wondering, Tootoo's cap hit was $1.9m versus Leino's $4.5m. The best part of Leino not scoring goals was the #LeinoLottery on twitter with TrendingBuffalo putting up $1000 if Leino remained with zero goals at the end of the season.
- Disappearing Act - How many games did we watch this year and had the sudden realization that Leino was actually playing or that Leino was actually scratched this game? It is incredibly hard to actually remember Ville Leino highlights from this season. The biggest contributing factor to this disappearing act was Leino not shooting the puck. Leino only totaled 38 shots on goal in his 58 games this year. Leino went game after game without registering a shot on goal. It is the complete opposite of Leino's career year with the Flyers when in 2010-11 he registered 117 shots in 81 games and tallied 53 points. My favorite stat around Leino's invisible play is he only had 5 shots on goal in games that the Sabres won and 33 in games they lost, maybe he was on to something.
- Comments to the Media - Leino was quoted a few times in the media with comments that were just frustratingly frustrating for fans to hear or read. The one that sticks in my mind the most is when he was asked about his lack of goals and how it affects him. "I’m sure it weighs on me, too, but obviously there are a lot of other guys on the team, too, that haven’t been able to really help that much either." Leino is sort of right and the 2013-14 Sabres were probably the worst team in franchise history, but c'mon Ville show some accountability.
- Injuries - Here's Leino's Injury report for this season: October 3rd - Cracked Rib; December 23rd - Flu; January 2nd - LBI; March 28th - Migraines. This may not seem like a lot but when a player misses almost the entire season in 2012-13 and then comes back and looks invisible and misses games for the Flu and Migraines, it adds to the hatred. Fans wanted Leino wrapped in Bubble Wrap and protected in a Safe until the end of the season so the franchise could use a buyout on him.
What positives did we ignore in our fan bases hate towards Ville Leino?
- The Shootout winner - Leino's biggest positive was his shootout winner against the New Jersey Devils on April 1st. Leino was actually cheered when he stepped over the boards and the crowd continued to cheer as he put the puck into the net to seal the victory for the Sabres. "I didn’t know if they were going to boo or cheer, so I was pretty happy about that," said Leino. "It was actually pretty awesome. I just wanted to score for them, and they gave me a little extra effort there."
I couldn't really think of any other positives from Leino's Season so here are his positive notes from his Sabres.com page:
• Was one of only nine players to dress in both the first and last games of the season
• Tied his career-best with a point in three straight games (0+3, 4/1-4/4)
• Contributed an assist over a season-high 22:47 TOI (the second-highest total of his career) at STL (4/3)
• Recorded an assist and the game-winning shootout goal vs. NJD (4/1)
• Notched a pair of assists and finished plus- two vs. BOS (2/26)
• Tallied an assist vs. FLA (1/21), at CBJ (1/25), at PHX (1/30) and at OTT (2/6)
• Missed three outings with a lower-body injury (1/2-1/9)
• Chipped-in an assist and logged 21:26 TOI vs. BOS (12/19), matching the third-highest TOI of his career
• Finished 4-for-4 in the faceoff circle at MTL (12/7)
• Contributed a pair of assists vs. TOR (11/29)
• Notched an assist in consecutive games vs. STL (11/19) and at PHI (11/21)
• Credited with three hits vs. DAL (10/28)
• Recorded an assist in his first game back from injury at TBL (10/26)
The Good news for Sabres fans is, much like Connolly and Derek Roy before him, Leino will likely not be here in 2014-15. General Manager Tim Murray said that a buy out of Ville Leino was "a very good possibility." If this happens the Sabres would have spent $16m on a grand total of 10 goals and 36 assists in 137 games played. That's $347,826.09 per NHL point. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
With a compliance buyout the Sabres won't have to worry about Leino counting against the cap anymore, but they will owe him $7,333,333 which is roughly $1.2m per season for the next 6 seasons.
Are you happy with Ville Leino being the 2014 Tim Connolly Award? Did I miss any positive Ville Leino highlights and how will you remember Leino's time in Buffalo? With Leino likely no longer a Sabre next season who do you think is the front runner to win the Award in 2015?
Finally, I would like to thank the 600+ people who voted and the over 100 comments the original post had. This is why I love Die By The Blade.