Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin surely wishes his team was one of the four remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the 2020-21 season will still be one he remembers for years to come.
The Hurricanes went 38-12-8 during the pandemic-shortened regular season, setting a franchise record for points per game. They earned the No. 1 seed in the Central Division and defeated the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs, before falling to the defending Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Slavin contributed three goals and 12 assists in 52 regular-season games, while adding another goal and five assists in eight postseason contests. His most impressive accomplishment, however, was officially recognized with one of the NHL’s season-ending awards.
The 27-year-old was chosen for the the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy — given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability” — in a landslide Saturday night.
The Lady Byng for our defensive King 👑 pic.twitter.com/cgNuDQWzEY
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) June 20, 2021
And rightfully so. Slavin logged the third-most minutes of any Hurricanes skater and took just one penalty all season. It came when he accidentally hit the puck over the glass.
In his speech accepting the award, Slavin gave the glory to God.
“As a Christian hockey player, I know this isn’t myself that everyone’s seeing, it’s Christ living through me, and so I’m thankful just to God’s faithfulness in my life and being able to share the love of Christ in everything I do on and off the ice and how I conduct myself,” he said.
The award was presented to Slavin by Hall of Famer Ron Francis, who was part of the Carolina front office that drafted Slavin in 2012. Slavin pointed to his faith again when explaining how winning the Lady Byng Trophy reflects on him as a person.
“It has everything to do with the person God’s created me to be and how I conduct myself,” he said. “I want to live a life that glorifies Him. So in doing that, whether it’s on or off the ice, just making sure, kind of like the Golden Rule, treat everybody how you want to be treated.”
Slavin has been an outspoken Christian throughout his career, and has two references to his faith in his Twitter and Instagram bios. The first is “All Glory to God.” The second is “Galatians 1:10,” which says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I wound not be a servant of Christ.”
The six-year veteran is only the fourth blue-liner to win the award, another indication of how remarkable his season was. As he continues his career as one of the most well-respected and reliable defensemen in the league, Slavin’s goal will remain the same: live like Christ and share His love with others.
“As Christians, we’re called to reflect Jesus in our lives,” he said in a 2019 Sports Spectrum Magazine feature. “Being able to do that is huge, and guys see something different about you in the way you live your life or what you put your priorities in.”
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