Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin wins Lady Byng as NHL’s most gentlemanly player

Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic defend against Predators forward Erik Haula during Tuesday’s Game 5 in Raleigh. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)


That’s how many penalties Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin has in 460 career NHL games over his six seasons. That includes no penalties in 31 postseason games and just one in the 60 games he played this season.

And the one penalty? A crime against no one — a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass.

So it’s no surprise that Slavin was named the winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, given annually “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

“Just the way I like to go about the game, obviously, is try to stay out of the box,” Slavin said in a Zoom call during the first intermission of Saturday’s Lightning-Islanders game after he was named the winner. “I definitely don’t like taking penalties, but I’m not that physical of a guy. I like to use my stick a lot.

“And so in doing that, I have to make sure that my position on the ice is solid and making sure I’m setting myself up for success. Using skating ability and just trying to make sure that my angles are good. … It’s a combination of just skating and stick work and not playing too physical.”

But Slavin’s dedication to gentlemanly play goes well beyond the number of penalties that are called against him.

“It has everything to do with the person God’s created me to be and how I conduct myself,” said Slavin, who has spoken frequently about his Christian faith and the role it plays in his life. “I want to live a life that glorifies him. … Kind of like the Golden Rule — treat everybody how you want to be treated and going about my life in that way and in a way that everything that I do I want to glorify him.”

Slavin received 73 first-place votes and appeared on 90 of the 100 ballots submitted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon finished second in this year’s voting, followed by Toronto’s Auston Matthews. Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen received one third-place vote.

Slavin finished fourth in the voting last season and has received votes for both the Byng and Norris Trophy (given to the NHL’s top defenseman) each of the past four seasons. Slavin is just the fourth defenseman to win the Lady Byng and the first since Chicago’s Brian Campbell in 2012. He also joined Ron Francis (2002) as the only two players in franchise history to win the award.

Francis, a three-time winner who was Carolina’s general manager when Slavin broke into the league, announced Slavin as the recipient for the 2020-21 season.

“He kind of is the one that brought me into this league,” Slavin said of Francis, “and knowing the player that he was and have himself winning this award is super special. He had a big part in me coming into the league and just giving me the opportunity that I had my rookie year. … To be presented the award by him was something that was truly special.”