Kyle Connor The Winnipeg Jets on Monday won the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best combines athleticism, gentlemanly demeanor and skill.
The 25-year-old is the first player in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history to win the award.
“It’s such a great honor,” said Connor. “I would like to thank my family and friends. They are always there when I need them and, you know, their unwavering support means the world to me.”
Connor, who had two minor penalties in 79 games, led Winnipeg in setting NHL career bests in goals (47), assists (46) and points (93) this season. He also led the Jets in ice time per game (career best 21:47) and was 12th in the NHL in takeaways (66).
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Connor was one of three players to have fewer than 10 penalty minutes and average at least 20:00 ice time per game (50 game minimum). Ryan Pulock the New York Islanders and Mikey Anderson the Los Angeles Kings.
“Even though he’s two years older than me, he’s a guy I can learn from. He’s fun to be with,” Jets says Pierre Luc Dubois said. “To see him finally get the recognition he deserves, I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league. A lot of people just hear about our games or just look at the stats, they don’t necessarily watch our games, it’s nice that he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.”
Connor said his teammates were a big reason he won the award.
“Without you it definitely wouldn’t have been possible,” said Connor. “They were a lot of fun coming onto the rink and just enjoyed playing with each and every one of you. Thank you to the Jets organization for giving me the opportunity to be the best player I can every day. “
The award was presented this season by Lucie and Tanya Bossy, the wife and daughter of Mike Bossy, who died April 15 after a battle with lung cancer.
One of the top scorers in NHL history who helped the New York Islanders win the Stanley Cup four straight years from 1980 to 1983, Bossy won the Lady Byng Trophy three times (1983 to 1984, 1986).
“I came across something my father wrote in his book about his first experience of winning the Lady Byng Trophy and I thought I could share it with you,” Tanya Bossy said. “He wrote: ‘I won my first Lady Byng Trophy as a gentleman player in the league. I was happy to get the Lady Byng, but I didn’t understand what I had done that particular year that I had not done in previous years. ‘
“Well I think that all starts with my dad. He had a way of going about his day-to-day life and on the ice, showing sportsmanship and being a gentleman was in his blood. It was just the way he was and the way he was. He definitely set a high standard of strength, courage and growth for anyone to be guided by and as a three-time recipient of this award it’s obvious that my dad considered athleticism to be an important part of which watched the game.”
Defender for the Carolina Hurricanes Jacob Slawin and Defender of Minnesota Wild Jared Spurgeon were the other finalists. Slavin won the award last season.