Off-topic: B-Rad is a gentleman

Since there isn't any real Mathieu news, at least I can be bouyed by the aweomeness that is Brad Richards. He was nominated for the Lady Byng trophy today (the third time in his career). They've changed the wording regarding the trophy a bit since it is has long been a bit unpopular:
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. (nhl.com)
Brad won the Lady Byng in '04 & was nominated in '06
Says Brad: "It's definitely an honor to be named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy. I've been fortunate to win it the past and be a runner-up as well."

He was interviewed on NHL Live today (archived nicely on Andrew's Dallas Stars page; or, if you like watching guys in a studio talk to a dude on the phone, the Stars have the video on their site)

He first adds that it's an honor to be nominated, not only with two other class players, but simple because "it's a trophy in the National Hockey League. I owe everything I have in my life to that."

When asked how he's adjusted his game to stay within all the new rules (and keep PIMs low): (with laughter) "Just good positioning." And adds: "probably sometimes I'm out of position and maybe I'm hoping my goalie bails me out."  More seriously, he notes: "Just thinking the game and try to be in good position. And obviously, I'm not going to beat a whole lot of people up."

(That 7 minutes was actually quite good. He sounded like he was in a good mood, and showed a little spunk. He also had some great thoughts on the playoffs, past and present. I'm disappointed that he never said "PRo-gress" or "PRO-cess," though. I love it when he kicks it old school England English style.)

Anyway... after he won the trophy in 2004, veteran referee Don Koharski responded to the honor saying "he's an ultimate team player." Adding that the trophy goes to the "talented skill player who commits himself to the team and not himself... (and) in 2003-2004, that's what Brad Richards was all about"  (as quote from  "Brad Richards: A Hockey Story," by Paul Hollingsworth, 2007).  I'm sure the same things will be said about B-Rad this year. Actually, it's already been said about him this year, time and time again. Whether he wins or not, it doesn't change the fact that he is all of those things and more.

So here's a hearty congratulations to B-Rad for being totally and complete awesome!

Now my aside commentary.... Frankly, that this is a trophy players joke about not wanting to win and that fans and media make fun of pisses me off. Any dumbass caveman can hit hard. It takes a real man to get beyond physical competition and reign in emotions and act like a, gasp, responsible, sportsmanlike adult, while still maintaining a commitment to the game and excelling on the ice.

They say the real way to make a team pay is on the score board. That's what Brad Richards did 91 times this year. That's what Martin St. Louis did 94 times this year. (Pavel Datsyuk had an off offensive year, but he still has wicked awesome credentials).

My youngest nephew is quite athletically gifted. I'm not just saying this a proud auntie, but really, the kid is a beast and excels at every sport or physical activity he tries (baseball being his favorite and his best). What makes me proudest isn't that he's good, but that he has such a good attitude about it. He takes it very seriously and has intense focus. Seriously, he gets a game face that would make Sidney Crosby nervous. But he still has fun and has it all in perspective. He gives 100% effort every single time he's on the field or court, he plays for the team, and he is respectful. My little not-quite-12 year old nephew is a bigger man than a (sadly) large portion of professional athletes.

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