Steve Spatafore / Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 | 2 a.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is the media center of the 2014 NHL Awards at Encore Ballroom. The awards, being broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from Encore Theater in Wynn Las Vegas, caps days of frivolity and victory-lap parading by the league in general and the L.A. Kings in particular, who beat the New York Rangers in five games to win this year’s Stanley Cup.
Hockey on ice has been a hot topic in VegasVille for the past six-plus months. During that time, the city’s ECHL entry has lost a home (Orleans Arena) and a deal for a new home (at the Plaza). The Las Vegas Wranglers have gone dark for the upcoming season, and this is not a case of no news is good news. Not necessarily, at least.
Wranglers officials have many months to secure a deal that would keep them in Las Vegas, and team President Billy Johnson has promised to do exactly that, but there is silence (responsible silence, as Johnson would remind) as the team gives a new venue agreement another shot.
Meantime, rumors have floated in the city as MGM Resorts has broken ground on its new arena on the Strip between New York-New York and Monte Carlo. That facility will be appointed with all the amenities needed to serve as the home of an NHL franchise should the league approve expansion into the city, which is no more than speculation at this point.
But the league is here — to party and hand out its annual season-ending trophies. Here are our own awards, as the broadcast scoots and skates along:
Best News for Las Vegas Hockey Fans: The show is reportedly returning in 2015 as part of a multi-year deal with Wynn and Encore.
Best Job of Verbal Puck-Handling: Declining to rule in or out an expansion team in Las Vegas (expressly at the under-development MGM Resorts arena), NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told KVVU Fox 5 on Monday, “The answer is we don’t know. People like to come here, but in terms of putting a franchise here, it’s not something we’re ready to address right yet.”
Dude Will Kick Your Ass Award: Mark Messier, who, even in an Armani suit (or something akin to such) looks like he’s ready to throw the gloves down, right now. There is something about a piercing gaze that you just can’t coach.
Best Use of Non-Goalie Masks: Luxor headliners the Jabbawockeez, whose twirling, acrobatic performance either dazzled or befuddled the audience.
”Show Me the Money!” Award: To the guy who shouted that famous line from “Jerry Maguire” at Cuba Gooding Jr., who joined Adam Graves in awarding the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the NHL Foundation Player Award.
Best 42-Year-Old Nominee: Masterson Trophy (for perseverance and dedication to the game) nominee Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils, who was the team’s MVP at an age when most players are retired. Not sure if NHL fans are still shouting “a shot of Jagr!” when he has the puck, but when he entered the league, they did. The winner was Dominick Moore of the New York Rangers, who left the team in spring 2012 to tend to his wife, Katie, who suffered from liver cancer and died in January 2013.
Best Elvis Tribute Artist: Steve Connolly, a longtime ETA in Las Vegas who appeared in backstage coverage of the show.
Best Use of “Excuse My French”: Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins, who did say that and did not follow with a profanity. He actually expressed his gratitude in French. The Selke Award honors the league’s best defense.
Best Mascot That Was Not Resurrected for the Event: Boom Boom, late of the Las Vegas Thunder.
Best Award Not Awarded: Hanson Brothers Memorial Trophy for biggest goon.
Best Use of a Wildly Popular Canadian: Actor Michael J. Fox was recruited to narrate a video introducing the Hart Trophy. Won by a similarly popular Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Most Deserved Standing Ovation: For Will Lacey, a 9-year-old Boston Bruins fan introduced by Gooding who announced Bergeron’s NHL Foundation Award for community service. Lacey is battling a brain tumor, and Bergeron made arrangements for him to be in Las Vegas for the big show.
It was a touching gesture for a league that shows a lot of integrity, and you don’t need to be a hockey fan to appreciate that.
With world-class dining, shopping, spas, golf and entertainment, there's no shortage of things to do at Wynn. The resort’s aquatic acrobatic show, “Le Reve—The Dream,” a creation by Cirque Du Soleil veteran Franco Dragone and Steve Wynn, will leave guests wanting more with its breathtaking performances that conjure an imaginary world. The Wynn Esplanade offers a unique shopping experience with stores including Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta and many more. Tryst is its signature nightclub, offering a secluded lagoon inside the club and spacious dance floor. Blush, the Wynn’s ultra lounge, draws swanky party-goers. Tryst, Wynn’s signature nightclub, is situated along a private lagoon under a 90-foot waterfall and plays host to some of the world’s most renown DJs.