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They just finished up with the Hobey and Humanitarian presentations to a pair of worthy winners in Ryan Duncan and Kristin Savard. But as someone who has been to these things since the early 90s, I’m not sure that the new and improved way of presenting the awards is better.

Let’s start with the Hobey. In the “good old days” the award was presented in a large room (banquet hall, convention hall, etc.). Only the winner was there, and was brought out once the announcement was made. The main appeal to this process was that it was free to the public, and more intimate than the current method, which is to give it out in the middle of an 18,000 seat area that’s a quarter full with people who pay $10 to see it (as well as the Skills Competition).

I think the idea of the Hobey Hat Trick is a great one, and recognizes three players rather than one. It also maintains the suspense, since under the old method the winner, his coach, his SID, etc. were notified ahead of time to make sure that he was there. Word often leaked out.

So I would advocate keeping that element and frankly dumping the rest. For example, the TV broadcast of the event is available exclusively on ESPNU, which reaches only a fraction of the audience that ESPN does. One of the funniest lines of the night came from David Brown’s mom, who, on camera said that the rest of the family was frantically trying to find a sports bar that would carry the event since, “We don’t get this channel where we live.”

But I wouldn’t care as much if the show had a different format. There was too much banter with the player’s parents, girlfriends, etc. and the humor was forced and made some of the participants look almost uncomfortable. This used to be a fairly serious event, geared more for the people in attendance than a casual TV audience. Let’s keep it that way.

The Humanitarian Award used to be presented before the Hobey Baker in the same setting. Now it is presented after, to make sure it doesn’t run long and delay the Hobey’s TV slot. And there is no suspense with this one – USCHO.com got the press release on the winner five hours before the ceremony. The winner used to be kept a secret until minutes before the presentation. Why did this change? It’s an important, national award and needs to be treated that way.

OK. I’m done complaining. The Skills Competition is a great addition, and the players and fans are having a blast. Nice job, NCAA.