Wisconsin's Blake Geoffrion was given the 2010 Hobey Baker Award tonight at Ford Field in Detroit. He is the first player from the University of Wisconsin to win the award.
Personally, I can't think of another player from a team I have no particular feelings toward that I've enjoyed watching more than Geoffrion over the past four years for Wisconsin. I kind of whispered it back in October, in part because I thought he was destined to go down as a player that never got fully appreciated for what he did because his offensive statistics were lacking, but I really felt he was deserving.
Two thoughts come to mind seeing him take the award.
First, the story of his bloodlines is just absolutely incredible. A lot gets made of the connection to Boom Boom Geoffrion, who was obviously a great player, but as an extremely amateur hockey historian, the connection to great-grandfather Howie Morenz, who was one of the NHL's first stars, has always fascinated me. One of my favorite hockey legends is the story of Morenz trying to sign up for World War I at the age of 15, and his mother running down to the army office the next day, birth certificate in hand, to prove he was too young to serve. The odds of a kid like that coming back from the Great War unscarred, or at all, weren't all that great, and you always wonder how hockey history would have missed if things had been a little different.
I think my favorite memory of Blake Geoffrion as a player came two years ago during his sophomore year. Wisconsin was playing a series at Minnesota State and Geoffrion and Minnesota State's Jon Kalinski went back and forth all night in an absolute battle between two of the toughest players I've see in college hockey. At one point, the two got into a fight--looking back at the box score tonight, it was only called coincidental two-minutes for roughing, but I remember some nice punches thrown--and the two continued to jaw back and forth on their way to the penalty box and in the penalty box. After the game, Geoffrion made a special point to shake Kalinski's hand, talk with him a little bit and pat him on the back for a job well done. It's too rare these days that you see a player that understands how to battle that hard during the game, and then let it go once the game ends.
The Hobey Baker is a nice cap to an excellent four years at Wisconsin for Geoffrion, and hopefully, it serves as a springboard to a solid career in professional hockey.