And the envelope please... The winner is:
Michael "The" Jenkins (who occasionally wears a vest)!
Yes, The Jenkins wins our award for Most Improved! When we first encountered him on CSN, we frequently described him with adjectives like "creepy," and "awkward," and "trying to seem cool but not." We also spelled his name wrong (our sincerest apologies for that, by the way). But that was then, and this is now, and as of now, Jenkins has come a long way from the Eskimo Pie days.
The transition started around February 9 against the Jets. I actually vividly remember that day: We were royally pissed off at just about the entire broadcast team; Gormley was Gormley, Toland talked about Tiger Woods, and Joe B and Locker jinxed the living shit out of the Caps. We basically had the post ready to go by the middle of the third period. The only (relatively) bright spot was Michael Jenkins, at intermission, wearing red and cheering for the Caps. And despite some technical hiccups during his highlights, he laughed 'em off and powered through like a champ. But the real breakout was his postgame show. I was sitting watching the game with Dru, typing up my half of our recap and not really paying attention to the postgame. But what I overheard sounded generally pretty good. I looked up as it was ending and asked Dru, "Who was that? We should probably give them a star; that was downright good." His response? "I think that was The Jenkins." I had to do a double-take, but in fact it was.
From there, Jenkins never looked back. He wore red in almost every broadcast he covered, the awkwardness... Well, it didn't stop, but it got less creepy and more endearing, and the quality of his hockey highlight calls seemed to improve dramatically in the later parts of the year, and it seemed to us he put in some honest effort to improve his hockey acumen. After February 9, Jenkins scored a total of 7 points and didn't take last star a single time. Props and respect from us, and hopefully he continues next season.