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‘Awesome honor’: Canes D Slavin wins Lady Byng

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin on Saturday was named winner of the Lady Byng Trophy, a prestigious award among the NHL community given annually to the player who best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability.

Helping to anchor one of the league’s top defensive units, Slavin led the Hurricanes in time of ice, at 22:59, as Carolina raced to a division title. The Hurricanes defeated the Nashville Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before they were eliminated in Round 2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 27-year-old from Denver received 73 of 100 first-place votes after being given just one minor penalty in 52 regular-season games, finishing with three goals and 15 points. In the postseason, across eight games, he had one goal and six points, garnering 24:27 time on ice.

The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and this season, Slavin joined Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon as finalists.

The honor is not often delivered to a defenseman, in part because established NHL blue liners — given their high amounts of time on ice — are often targets for penalty minutes. Slavin, who plays a strong and sturdy game on Carolina’s top line, is an exception.

“It’s exciting, and hopefully some more defensemen start winning it in the future,” Slavin said of the award, which last went to a defenseman in 2012, when Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers was honored. “It’s an awesome honor to be able to be awarded this award.”

The Hurricanes who ceased operations as the Hartford Whalers in 1997, do have a history with the Lady Byng. Francis won the award with Carolina in 2002. The Lady Byng was first presented following the 1924-25 season.

“I have you to thank, you brought me into this league, so thanks to you, thanks to my management, coaching staff and [the] Hurricanes organization now,” Slavin said to Francis, virtually. “My wife and daughter have played a huge role in how I conduct myself on and off the ice just because they are around me, they are my first line of support.”

Though they’d clearly like to still be playing in the postseason, it was an active week for the Hurricanes, nonetheless. On Thursday, Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour signed a three-year contract extension with the team just before being announced as the winner of the Jack Adams Award, which goes to the NHL’s coach of the year.

Brind’Amour — like Francis, also a former Hurricanes forward — finished the last year of his contract with the team this season. The Hurricanes were first in the Central Division, and he has gone 120-66-20 in three seasons, reaching the postseason in each.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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