Makar ‘honoured’ to win Norris Trophy, aiming for Cup with Avalanche

Makar ‘honoured’ to win Norris Trophy, aiming for Cup with Avalanche

Makar ‘honoured’ to win Norris Trophy, aiming for Cup with Avalanche

Tampa — Cale Makari said he was honored to win the Norris Trophy, which is presented annually to the best defender in the NHL, at the 2022 NHL Awards on Tuesday.

But winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche remains the ultimate goal.

The Avalanche hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series against the Tampa Bay Lightning en route to Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS).

“Of course I am very honored to be considered for that award … but for me I have to quickly turn the page here and prepare for tomorrow,” Makar said on Tuesday.

Video: Cale Makari wins Norris Trophy for best defender

The 23-year-old became the first defenseman in Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordique history to win the Norris, as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, with 1,631 points. Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, who won in 2020, finished second in this year’s voting with 1,606 points. It was the closest race for the prize since Erik Karlsson won with the Ottawa Senators against Shea Weber (Predators) in 2012 (1,069-1,057).

Victor Hedman of the Lightning, who won in 2018, finished third with 940 points.

Makar and Hedman play against each other in the cup final. Hedman tries to help Tampa Bay win a third consecutive championship.

“They are such incredible players,” said Makar. “They pushed me so hard all season, just like an individual on the ice. It’s great to compete against those guys. There’s a lot of credit that goes to them in terms of the success I personally had this year .”

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Makar led defenders in the regular season with 28 goals and was second to Josi in points (86) in 77 games to help Colorado (56-19-7) finish first in the Western Conference. He was second among plus-48-rated defenders behind teammate Devon Toews (plus-52) and first place with six winning goals.

Makar leads the Avalanche with 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Colorado is 14-3 this postseason.

4 Picked by the Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Draft, Makar scored a goal in his debut, a 6-2 win against the Calgary Flames in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round on April 15, 2019. Colorado has qualified for the playoffs in each of Makar’s first four seasons, and he said he learns a little more with each experience.

He has 57 points (14 goals, 43 assists) in 52 games after the season.

“I’m still quite young, so this play-off experience at a young age is very exciting for me,” said Makar. “You just try to take it all in. In the end it goes step by step. If we can experience what we have now as a team, it will only make us stronger in the future, no matter what. But we are now focused on natural to win.”

Makar has four points through the first three games of the cup final, including two assists in a 6-2 loss in Game 3 here on Monday. The Avalanche are two wins from their first cup championship since 2001 after consecutive home wins to start the series.

“You can’t think too far ahead,” Makar said. “Obviously we still have so much to do, but as a team we have now put ourselves in a great place. We have to respond to that.”