A memorable night for Moritz Seider was made more special when many Detroit Red Wings teammates joined him Tuesday at the NHL Awards Show in Tampa.
Team captain Dylan Larkin sat next to Seider when he was announced the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year.
“It was a really cool surprise,” Seider said. “It’s cool to see that not only your captain and teammates have your back but the whole organization. I’m very happy Larks sat next to me.”
Seider, a big defenseman who flourished at both ends of the ice, earned 170 out of 195 first-place votes from the Professional Hockey Writers Association for 1,853 points, easily outpacing Anaheim center Trevor Zegras (15 first-place votes, 1,191 points). Toronto left wing Michael Bunting was third.
He is the first Red Wing to win the award since goaltender Roger Crozier in 1965.
“There will be a moment when you’re sitting at home by yourself or with your friends and you will be very happy with what you’ve achieved,” Seider said. “But other than that, I think it is more about the team.”
Seider, 21, credited teammates for helping his smooth transition to the league.
“I think once you gain confidence it’s a lot easier to go out there and perform every single night,” Seider said. “Teammates were pushing me hard. I just enjoyed every single moment, so it was easy coming to the rink and trying to get better.”
That includes fellow rookie Lucas Raymond, who finished fourth in voting.
“It was great to have him on your side, having someone who is going through the same phases as you, because you have someone to talk to,” Seider said. “We got close right from the start. I truly believe he should be up here, too, in that (Calder) conversation and maybe even win that award, but others have to judge that.”
What was he most proud of?
“To not fall into a mental breakdown during an 82-(game) season,” Seider said. “Just playing all 82 games and in the end look in the mirror and say you got your best.”
He enjoyed the challenge of playing against the opposition’s best on a nightly basis.
“Just trying to keep up with the other team’s best line and trying to shut them down every single game,” Seider said. “Some nights it works better than other nights but for the most part I think I did a good job with all my D partners. They gave me a lot of confidence to do so.”
Seider is already focused on an area he aims to improve on next season.
“I think lateral movement on the blueline is a key to be successful as a defenseman,” Seider said. “You see (Colorado’s Cale) Makar doing that in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s fun to see. You want to be up there, too, one day.”
He said he is “pumped” for next season.
“Everyone is preparing themselves to be better next season, to prove more people wrong and to fight for a playoff spot,” Seider said. “I think it’s time for us to give something back, not only for ourselves but also for this city, the fans. We want playoffs at LCA.
“I want to step up and be a leader on the ice and if you have to, also off the ice. Just lead by example and I think the others will follow.”
He was asked about his thoughts exactly three years ago to the date, when Steve Yzerman, in his first draft as Red Wings general manager, called his name with the sixth overall pick at the draft in Vancouver.
“I think I was a little more nervous (tonight) because when you dress up that nice and don’t get awarded you might feel a little bit disappointed,” Seider said.
Seider thanked his brother and girlfriend for being in Tampa and while accepting the trophy on stage joked, “My parents couldn’t make it. They just got back from Croatia and thought it was more important to go on vacation.”
Asked after if he had heard from his parents in Germany, Seider said, “No. Hopefully they were sleeping. Just kind of wait to get their reaction tomorrow.”