Anze Kopitar named as a finalist for 2023 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

The LA Kings will have at least one representative during the 2023 NHL Awards show, as forward Anze Kopitar has been named as a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” The award is voted upon by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and the top three vote-getters were recognized as finalists this evening. The other two finalists for the award are Jack Hughes and Brayden Point

“I think the definition of the award itself is how it’s voted on,” Todd McLellan said when discussing Kopitar and the Lady Byng. “You’ve got to have an impact on the game, a positive impact on the game, night-after-night, and you do it very hard, very competitive, but you don’t find yourself in the penalty box, you don’t find yourself hurting your team that way. That’s the definition of the award, at least how I understand it, and he does that night after night. He’s very smart and very good positionally. He uses his big body well, so he doesn’t have to reach and hold and hook. He’s very experienced in that area of the game.”

This is Kopitar’s third time as a finalist for the award. He was voted as the winner during the 2015-16 season and was a finalist during the 2014-15 season. Kopitar is angling to be the first two-time winner of the award since Martin St. Louis (2009-10, 2010-11). Kopitar is also one of three active players around the NHL to have been a finalist for the trophy on three-or-more occasions, joining Toronto’s Ryan O’Reilly (4) and Florida’s Aleksander Barkov (3).

Kopitar is the first LA King to be nominated for the Lady Byng since Wayne Gretzky received five nominations during his time with the organization, winning the trophy on three occasions, most recently in the 1993-94 season. Forward Marcel Dionne was a three-time finalist and a one-time winner, while forward Butch Goring was a two-time nominee and a one-time winner and forward Dave Nevin was a one-time finalist. All-time, this is the 14th time a Kings player has been named as a finalist for the trophy.

While we won’t find out if any other Kings players potentially received a vote, Alex Iafallo has earned Lady Byng votes two years running and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him receive votes once again this season. Kings defensemen Tobias Bjornfot and Matt Roy have also received Lady Byng votes throughout their young careers with the Kings, while Viktor Arvidsson received votes during one of his years in Nashville.

Trophy History, Per
Lady Byng, wife of Canada’s Governor General at the time, presented the Lady Byng Trophy during the 1924-25 season. After Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers won the award seven times in eight seasons, he was given the trophy to keep and Lady Byng donated another trophy in 1936. After Lady Byng’s death in 1949, the NHL presented a new trophy, changing the name to the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

There was also a good amount of chatter around Kopitar potentially being nominated for the Frank Selke Trophy as well, but the finalists for that award came out today and Kopitar was not among them, despite his high-level season, especially during the second half. The Selke is awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” Naturally, Kopitar is in that conversation just about every year. He’s a two-time winner and a four-time finalist. Kopitar finished sixth in the voting a season ago with 163 points, including three first-place votes. When the final tallies come out, I assume he will have been selected on several ballots, even if not frequently enough to reach the top three. Forward Phillip Danault had 78 points last season, finishing in eighth, and could merit votes as well and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Adrian Kempe’s name on a ballot either.

The 2023 NHL Awards will be broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Monday, June 26 on TNT, Sportsnet and TVA Sports, beginning at 5 PM Pacific.

The following awards will be announced over the coming weeks –

Wednesday, May 3
Calder Memorial Trophy

Thursday, May 4
James Norris Memorial Trophy

Friday, May 5
Jack Adams Award

Tuesday, May 9
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley was the organization’s nominee)

Wednesday, May 10
Ted Lindsay Award

Thursday, May 11
Vezina Trophy

Friday, May 12
Hart Memorial Trophy

Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
The three finalists for both the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award presented by Hyundai (Canada) and the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award (U.S.) were announced on April 3. The Canadian winner will be unveiled during the Stanley Cup Final on Sportsnet and the U.S. winner will be announced at the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville on June 26.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy – Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson is the team’s nominee
The NHL will announce each team’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy on Tuesday, May 9, followed by the three finalists later in the month. The winner will be unveiled at the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville on June 26.

Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award
Voting for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award is conducted at the conclusion of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the three finalists announced in late May. The winner will be unveiled at the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft in Nashville on June 28.

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award
The winner of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award will be unveiled at the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville on June 26.

E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence
The winner of the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence will be unveiled at the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville on June 26.

From the team’s official release –

The NHL announced today that Kings captain Anze Kopitar has been named a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. The annual award is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability” as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

This marks Kopitar’s third nomination for the Lady Byng after winning the award in 2016 and being named a finalist in 2015. He is one of four Kings players to earn the award and can join Wayne Gretzky as the only Kings players to receive the honor more than once: Wayne Gretzky (1991, ’92, ’94), Butch Goring (1978) and Marcel Dionne (1977).

Kopitar finished the 2022-23 regular-season as the Kings leading scorer (74 points (28-46=74)) for a franchise-record 15th season (fifth consecutive) to join Gordie Howe (17x) as the only two players in NHL history to lead the same franchise in points at least 15 times. Overall, the 35-year-old led all Kings forwards in time-on-ice (TOI) per game (20:18) and faceoff win percentage (55.9%); ranked second among all team skaters in goals (28), assists (46) and plus/minus (+20); and established a new career-low in penalty minutes (PIMs) with four, the fewest of any player in the NHL to play 82 games this season.

Among the 28 NHL skaters this season to play 82 games and average more than 20 minutes TOI, the Jesenice, Slovenia native was the only player to register more than 70 points while also serving 10-or-fewer penalty minutes. Of those 28 players, Kopitar ranked first in fewest PIMs served (4) and faceoff win percentage (55.9%), sixth in plus/minus (+20), ninth in points (74) and 10th in assists (46). Additionally, his four PIMs were 10 fewer than the second-least penalized player (Cam Fowler, 14 PIM) and 16 fewer than the second-least penalized forward (Kyle Connor, 20 PIM).

Kopitar also became the first Kings skater since Butch Goring in 1977-78 (2 PIM in 80 GP) to appear in at least 60 games and record four or less penalty minutes. Prior to Kopitar, only three other skaters have done so in team history: Butch Goring (2 PIM in 70 GP, 1973-74; 2 PIM in 67 GP, 1972-73; 2 PIM in 74 GP, 1971-72), Jimmy Peters (0 PIM in 77 GP; 1972-73) and Lucien Grenier (4 PIM in 60 GP; 1971-72). Since the league expanded to an 82-game regular-season schedule in 1995-96, Kopitar’s seven campaigns playing in all 82 contests are the most among any Kings skater. Kopitar is currently riding a 247-game streak of serving no more than one minor penalty in a regular-season game, dating back to Jan. 4, 2020 vs. Nashville.

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