Lady Byng Finalists: Patrick Marleau vs. Ryan O’Reilly vs. Marty St. Louis

The NHL announced on Tuesday that forwards Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks, Ryan O'Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche and Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, 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 trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, with the top three vote getters as the finalists.

Immediately, the name that jumps out is St. Louis, whose contentious relationship with Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman following an initial snub for the Canadian Olympic team eventually led to his being traded to the Rangers at the deadline. He’s won the award three previous times, including last season.

So who takes home the Byng?

Why Patrick Marleau Deserves The Lady Byng

From the NHL:

Marleau tallied his seventh 30-goal season in the past nine years, helping the Sharks reach the 100-point mark for the seventh time in that span. He ranked second on the Sharks in goals (33), was third in assists (37) and points (70), and led the club and placed fifth in the NHL in shots on goal (285). Marleau played in all 82 games and skated an average of 20:31 per contest but received just 18 penalty minutes. The 34-year-old Aneroid, Sask., native is a Lady Byng finalist for the second time, finishing third behind Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Richards in 2006.

A well-liked and respected professional and one whose accomplishments are tailor-made for this award. Through adversity in San Jose and scrutiny of his role in it, the epitome of class.

Why Ryan O’Reilly Deserves The Lady Byng

From the NHL:

O'Reilly tallied a career-high 64 points as the resurgent Avalanche captured the Central Division title and tied a franchise record with 52 victories. He led the club in goals (28), power-play goals (nine) and game-winners (six-tied), and led the NHL in takeaways (83) for the second time in the past three seasons. O'Reilly was flagged for just one minor penalty all season, joining Butch Goring (1977-78, Los Angeles) as the only players ever to receive two or fewer PIM over 80 or more games. The 23-year-old Clinton, Ont., native is a Lady Byng Trophy finalist for the first time.

For those that see the Lady Byng as simply the “best player with the fewest penalty minutes” award, O’Reilly is virtually a lock to win.

Why Martin St. Louis Deserves The Lady Byng

From the NHL:

In quest of a repeat Lady Byng Trophy win and fourth in the past five years, St. Louis recorded the seventh 30-goal season of his NHL career (30-39--69). He led the Rangers in goals, points and power-play goals (nine) and ranked second in plus-minus (+13). St. Louis ranked third among NHL forwards in total time on ice (1,696:11), but was assessed just 10 penalty minutes -- fewest among the League's top 20 scorers. The 38-year-old native of Laval, Que., is a Lady Byng finalist for the eighth time in the past 10 years.

It’s an interesting conundrum for voters: St. Louis did handle himself with class after being snubbed for the Olympic team, playing hard for the Lightning and keeping them in the playoff picture with Steven Stamkos out of the lineup. But the snub cut deep enough that the relationship between player and team had to be severed at the trade deadline, ending his tenure with Tampa and forcing a deal to a conference rival.

We feel those cancel each other out, but the PHWA voters apparently were blown away by St. Louis’ almost superhuman ability to do his job and not be a giant 38-year-old baby about things.

Who Wins The Lady Byng Trophy?

O’Reilly. It shouldn’t be close, either, as the Avalanche forward was one “playing with a broken stick” penalty away from a PIMs-less season.

Our Ballot

1. Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche

2. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks

3. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

4. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

5. Rob Scuderi, Pittsburgh Penguins

How Seguin was snubbed, we don’t know. He pieced his career back together in Dallas, played exceptionally, and had eight penalty minutes this season along with a 10-minute misconduct call from Tim Peel that evidently torpedoed his Byng candidacy.

But the real snub here is Selanne. His last season in the NHL, 12 penalty minutes, his victory tour and this moment with Giguere:

But hey, Marty St. Louis needed another Lady Byng apparently.