Bill Kacoullas, Fountain Valley, Calif.
I am grateful beyond words that the powers-that-be at The Hockey News deemed that the consummate breed of hockey player known as the defenseman deserved a special issue. I have had no greater joy in my 40-plus years of watching the game than casting my eye on the skill and courage found in the blueline brigade.
However, I have one bone of contention. I have railed for many years against giving a singular offensive or defensive defenseman award (even having a letter printed in The Hockey News about it some 27-seven years ago). It is because I fear that it will open the door to honoring the extremes on both ends of the equation (think Mike Green or Rod Langway) and leave the truly great all-around defenseman out of the running.
Nick Lidstrom has been the best all-around blueliner and the best defensively for a number of years. If an additional defensive defenseman award had been created, would he have won that multiple times? Or would the writers have figured that he was a certain Norris winner and decide to give credit to a lesser-known defense-first rearguard?
Offensive excellence does not preclude defensive greatness (Orr, Salming, Robinson, Bourque, etc.). I just want to be sure that the awards will be given on merit, not as a way to simply draw attention to underrated players.
So, go ahead...convince me to join your bandwagon.