The National Hockey League’s professional writers have cast their votes, and the jury is out: Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets is simply the most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player in the league.
On Monday night, the NHL announced that Connor is this season’s recipient of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, presented annually to a player who typically stays away from the ‘rough stuff’, while contributing heavily to both his team’s and personal success.
He is the first player in Winnipeg Jets franchise history to earn the recognition.
LADY BYNG for Winnipeg's Kyle Connor!
What a spectacular season for the #NHLJets' 47-goal, 93-point man.
With just four total penalty minutes on the entire season, the 25-year-old has now been recognized as the league's most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player.
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) June 6, 2022
On the year, Connor hit a career-high 47 goals, a career-high 46 assists, as well as a career-high 93 points.
He drove Winnipeg’s offence.
Oh, and he also stayed as far away from the penalty box as one could imagine.
Suiting up in 79 of a possible 82 games (thanks to a short bout with COVID near the end of the regular season), the 25-year-old produced at a 1.18 point-per-game rate over the course of the season. He had eight power play goals and 28 power play points. Connor scored once while shorthanded, and on another occasion he won a game for the Jets in overtime.
His 314 shots on goal were among the league’s best, while his 14.8 shooting percentage was actually well below is career average. So in all fairness, he could have – and likely would have – hit 50 goals on the season should he have produced at his average pace, and found a way to dodge the virus that forced him into isolate for three games.
Oh, right, the other aspect of his stats – KC only sat down in the penalty box two times. He took a two-minute slashing minor on Connor McDavid back on November 18 against the Edmonton Oilers, and a hooking penalty on Mathew Barzal on March 11 against the New York Islanders. Neither were egregious plays.
“I don’t remember the McDavid one,” Connor laughed when asked about his infractions. “But I do remember the Barzal one. That was recent. Yeah, I think so, I mean he had a breakaway if I didn’t take that penalty. I think I got my stick in there and the refs decided it was a call. Not much to say.”
Going up against Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin and Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon, Connor had fewer penalty minute totals than both players, but they did serve as defensemen, so their numbers were slightly skewed in his direction.
Of the 195 voters, 122 ranked Connor as the No. 1 candidate. 181 of the voters had Connor on their ballot, meaning 92 percent voted for Connor to some extent. He earned 1,527 total points (122-28-17-6-8).
What a deserved victory for Connor and all of True North Sports + Entertainment.