Where no Badger has gone before
Blake Geoffrion beat out Maine\’s Gustav Nyquist and UNH\’s Bobby Butler to win the 2010 Hobey Baker Award Friday at Ford Field.[/media-credit]DETROIT — Hockey skill, leadership and character are among the traits Hobey Baker Award winners need to display. You can add forgiveness to that list as well.Wisconsin senior and Hobey winner Blake Geoffrion had to look away as his mother told an embarrassing story about his obsession with being a cowboy in his younger years while being interviewed on ESPN during the announcement ceremony. But the man of the night forgave his mother at the later press conference, and is fully aware of the jabs he’s going to get from friends.“I opened my phone, I’ve got a million text messages,” Geoffrion said. “But one of the first ones I read was one of my buddies, it said ‘Cowboys and boots and guns, huh?’”A fantastic senior year culminated in Geoffrion winning the award, given annually to the best player in college hockey. A second-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators, it was surprising that he came back for his senior year — a decision that rewarded him with both the Hobey Baker and the chance to win a national title Saturday.Geoffrion put up career highs offensively, ranking third in the nation in goals with 28 on the season. He also led the nation in power play goals with 15, after scoring one against RIT in the Frozen Four semifinal. Geoffrion also had 22 assists, joining teammates Michael Davies, Brendan Smith and Derek Stepan in reaching the 50-point mark this season.“He’s very deserving. I think he embraces what Hobey Baker was, as they described him. Being a talented athlete, but perhaps a better human being,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said.Making the win even more special is that Geoffrion became the first Wisconsin player in history to win the Hobey. The closest any Badger had come to winning previously was when Steve Reinprecht was runner up in 2000.“There are some great names that have come through Wisconsin: Coach Eaves, Mark Johnson, Dany Heatley, (Brian) Rafalski, both Suters,” Geoffrion said. “I don’t think I’d put myself in that category. But it’s an honor to win the award, and I’m just happy to bring this award back to the Wisco family.”Previous Badgers aren’t the only guys Geoffrion had to live up to in winning the Hobey. His family is hockey royalty, with his great-grandfather Howie Morenz and grandfather Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion in the Hockey Hall of Fame.“I don’t think that this even compares to what they’ve accomplished in their hockey careers, but I love my family to death, I’m very proud of what they’ve done,” Geoffrion said.Geoffrion beat out the nation’s top point scorer in Maine’s Gustav Nyquist and New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler — who until the end of the national title game was the top goal scorer — to win the award. Boston College’s Cam Atkinson took over the goal lead with two in the championship game.While the Brentwood, Tenn. native’s numbers are just as good as the other two Hobey Hat Trick finalists, it’s the other things he does that helped give him an edge.In addition to helping anchor the Wisconsin power play, Geoffrion was the team’s top forward on the penalty kill. Besides his defensive efforts in blocking shots and clearing the puck, Geoffrion assisted on three of UW’s five shorthanded goals on the season. He’s also been clutch in winning key faceoffs, converting at a 61 percent clip.Perhaps most importantly, Geoffrion was the heart and soul of this Badger squad. Eaves elected to go with three tri-captains instead of a captain and alternates. While Ben Street and Ryan McDonagh are certainly lead-by-example guys, Geoffrion does that while also providing the vocal leadership on the team. Eaves was quick to point out the kind of leader his captain has become.“As a captain, one of the qualities you look [for] in people that are going to be your leaders is can they look outside themselves and what are the needs of others,” Eaves said. “He has that ability to step outside his own needs and that makes him special.”Along with teammate and fellow top-10 Hobey finalist Brendan Smith, Geoffrion was also named a first-team All American. Smith is a junior, and after putting up the best offensive numbers of any defenseman in the nation, the first-round Detroit Red Wings draft pick could consider bolting for the pros after this season. Eaves hopes the success Geoffrion has enjoyed after returning for his senior year could influence the decisions of future Wisconsin hockey players.“We’ll carry this story as loud and as far and as long as we can, because it’s a great example that you don’t need to rush out (to the pros),” Eaves said.