VANCOUVER – You won’t find a hard hat or a shovel in the Vancouver Canucks’ dressing room.
Some teams like to hand out awards to unsung heroes after each game in closed-door ceremonies.
But the Canucks choose to pass on such accolades.
“We don’t have one,” Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa said Friday before Game 5. “We don’t need little awards like that. There’s enough at stake, enough motivation, for us. So whatever works for them. We have our own things that we do and other teams have their own things that they do.”
The Boston Bruins tied the Stanley Cup final with back-to-back wins at home in Games 3 and 4.
The Bruins award a well-worn jacket, which bears a big spiked-B team logo, to the player who, as judged by his teammates, has led by example during a game.
“Don’t peewee teams have that?” Bieksa asked mockingly.
Other NHL clubs hand out similar post-game awards. The Calgary Flames dole out a hard hat, while the Pittsburgh Penguins give out a shovel.
The Boston jacket actually has a West Coast connection. Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference acquired it from a Vancouver store on Ebay. The player who receives it in the previous game hands it to the player who earns it the next.
The jacket took on added meaning in Game 3 of the final after centre Nathan Horton suffered a concussion and was lost for the rest of the series when he took a late hit from Vancouver’s Aaron Rome. The Canucks defenceman received a major and game misconduct and was suspended for the remaining four games of the finals.
After the game, the Bruins hung the jacket in Horton’s empty locker-room stall. They gained extra motivation following their 4-0 victory in Game 4 as the jacket prompted Horton, not seen by his teammates since he was taken to hospital, made an unexpected appearance.
“He was there to pass the jacket on,” goaltender Tim Thomas told reporters after Game 4. “We didn’t pass the jacket on (following Game 3) with him gone. I think the team would have been happy leaving it with Horty for the rest of this series, but he wanted to give it away and keep the tradition going that we’d started.”