To finish off the year, we’ll be unveiling our Best of 2011 picks here on Point Blank. We’ll nominate and then pick what we think are the best of the year in a given category and then leave the final decision up to you, our readers. Today’s first of four segments breaks down the Islanders’ Heart and Soul Player of the Year.
Criteria: This first award goes to the Islander who plays with the most passion, grit and determination, not just once in a while but on a nightly basis. You can measure their efforts in numerous ways — fighting majors, hits, blocked shots, YouTube videos of standing up for teammates — but not always as points on the score sheet.
And the nominees are…
Matt Martin – Leads the NHL in hits as of this writing and almost never takes a night off.
Kyle Okposo – Is the engine of the second line that goes and goes. Struggled coming off a shoulder injury and got scratched, but is back to form.
John Tavares – Sure, he’s the team’s star but he doesn’t require special treatment. There is no one harder on him when he’s not producing than himself and he’s always willing to play defense and go the extra mile.
Micheal Haley – The man, the legend.
Travis Hamonic – He’s as serious about the game as Tavares and comes to play every night with Martin. He’s shouldered the load as the team’s best defender and willing defender of his teammates on most nights.
The Writer’s Picks:
Kevin Schultz – Matt Martin
Alan Avital – Matt Martin
“In his second year on the Island, Martin leads the team in hits. He also seems to be John Tavares’ shadow, when others take liberties against him. Perfect reason why he is the team’s heart and soul player is that when I have taken friends – not Islander fans – to games at the Coliseum this season, Martin is always the first player noticed and mentioned. It is too bad that on many nights Martin, a 22-year old from Windsor, Ontario, stands alone defending the Islander crest. He is a warrior.”
Keith Quinn – Travis Hamonic
The kid came in as a rookie with less than 30 AHL games played. Almost immediately was on the second pairing with a guy in his second year and by the end of the year was scoring regularly, playing against top competition, and sheltering weaker defense partners after Andrew Macdonald was shut down for the year. How he didn’t get more consideration for Calder was beyond me.
Leave your opinions in the poll and comment section below. Polls close at midnight, January 1st.