Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor wins Lady Byng Trophy

Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor speaks about his Lady Byng Memorial Trophy victory.

For only the second time in the 2.0-version of their franchise history, and just the sixth time overall, a member of the Winnipeg Jets has won a major NHL Award.

Just prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Final in Edmonton, the NHL announced that Jets forward Kyle Connor has been named the winner of the Lady Byng Trophy which goes to the player chosen best to combine sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability.

The announcement was made by the wife (Lucie) and daughter (Tanya) of the late Mike Bossy and Connor said via zoom call, that made the moment even more special. “You know obviously Mike’s a very special player and it’s unfortunate the way he passed away this past year. To be able to receive that award from those two is pretty cool.”

Connor joins an exclusive list that includes former Calder Trophy rookies of the year Dale Hawerchuk (1982) and Teemu Selanne (1993), Jack Adams Coach of the Year recipients Tom Watt (1982) and Bob Murdoch (1990), and 2020 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck.

Connor was asked about a pair of Michigan natives being the only Jets to receive a major NHL award in the 2.0 version of the franchise.  “We’ve always had a good friendly banter and competition. I mean we skate with each other in the summer. Every single shot I think I’m going to score on him and he thinks he’s going to save every single shot.”

Connor finished well ahead of 2021 winner Jaccob Slavin of Carolina by a 1527 to 904 margin in voting by conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon was third with 272 points.

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The 25-year-old from Shelby Township, Michigan, who received 122 of 195 first place votes and received second through fifth place recognition from 59 other writers,  turned in a career performance for the Jets in 2021-22 by scoring 47 goals and adding 46 assists for 93 points in 79 games while accumulating just four penalties in minutes (PIM).

The 47 goals and 93 points also established single-season highs for the franchise since relocating to Winnipeg from Atlanta.

Connor was assessed a slashing minor against Connor McDavid in the second period of a 2-1 shootout loss to the Oilers on Nov. 18, 2021, at Rogers Place. His only other minor was for a hook on Matthew Barzal that prevented a potential scoring opportunity for the Islander forward in the first period of an eventual 5-2 loss at UBS Arena on Long Island on March 11.

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The penalty box has been unfamiliar territory for the Jets 2015 first-round draft pick throughout his NHL career. In 386 games, Connor has totaled just 88 minutes while scoring 178 goals and adding 166 assists for 344 points. “I think it’s being smart with your feet and getting into the right position to be able to check with your stick,” said the veteran forward who will be going into his seventh season as a Jet in 2022-23. “I just play my game. So in that aspect is it hard to not take penalties? I don’t think about it at all when I’m on the ice.”

 

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