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After debuting for the Avalanche in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, Makar piled up 50 points — a dozen goals and 38 assists — in 57 outings as a rookie this past winter.
If not for a pair of injury absences and a pandemic, he may have challenged Larry Murphy’s record for most points by a first-year defenceman. (Murphy had 76 back in 1980-81. Makar was, early on, threatening to eclipse that mark.)
While Hughes had more score-sheet shout-outs during the truncated season, Makar led all freshmen with an average of 0.88 points per game and tied for tops with four game-winning tallies.
Makar was also announced Monday as a unanimous selection to the NHL’s all-rookie team for 2019-20 and finished ninth in Norris Trophy voting.
On a virtual media call just before the puck dropped on Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, the business-like blue-liner was, not surprisingly, anxious to steer the conversation back to team pursuits.
“Coming into this year, individual awards definitely aren’t something that I’m focused on,” said Makar, who’s been back in Calgary since the Avalanche were eliminated in the second round of the summer restart. “The main goal is to help your team and eventually get that Stanley Cup. And then, after winning an award, you obviously want to be able to prove to people why you did. So for me, it’s just going to be to try to get better every day and come back next season better than I was this year.”
The last Calgary-area kid to have his name engraved on the Calder Trophy was towering defenceman Tyler Myers — long before he was 6-foot-8, he wore a Bow Valley Flames jersey — in 2009-10.
Makar actually has a cool connection to the gent who was feted as the NHL’s top rookie 60 years ago. That would be Bill Hay, who was Bobby Hull’s linemate in Chicago before he was president of the Flames and Hockey Canada and chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“To a lifelong family friend Bill Hay,” Makar said, wrapping up his virtual acceptance speech, “I’m happy to join the club.”