The NHL’s Hart Trophy, which was first awarded in 1924 and will be again tomorrow night in Las Vegas, has become absolutely meaningless. Each June, it is awarded to the “player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” And the most applicable definitions of valuable, according to Webster, are “having desirable or esteemed characteristics or qualities” or “of great use or service.” Notice how points scored are never mentioned anywhere. Yet this year’s nominees for the Hart Trophy, Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, finished 1-2-3 in NHL scoring. Based on the definitions, only one of this trio should even have been nominated, let alone win.
Let’s start with Alex “Don’t-have-a-clue-when-to-shut-my-cake-hole” Ovechkin. Ovechkin does what Ovechkin wants. I cannot think of a single desirable or esteemed characteristic or quality he possesses. He thinks and acts like the show is all about him. And, when it’s crunch time, he completely disappears. Fans of the Russian Olympic hockey team in Vancouver could tell you all about that. And, when it mattered most in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, all Ovechkin could contribute was an inflammatory quote about how Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak was “shaking.” How’d that work out, Ovie? I understand that voting is completed prior to the playoffs beginning, but his moronic comment was just a microcosm of his character. Or complete lack of.
Henrik Sedin got nominated for one single reason – he finally, after forever, lived up to his scoring potential. Period. That’s it. That’s all the guy did this year. He finally earned the money he’s been siphoning out of the Canucks’ bank account for a decade. A decade! Of course, when the playoffs arrived, Sedin showed his true colours in games that mattered…and he disappeared. Again, no desirable qualities – unless you consider floating or sandbagging for ten years desirable.
Sidney Crosby deserves the nomination, although his on-ice whining would (if I was a voter) give me long, hard pause before writing his name down. What’s in Crosby’s favour is that he’s shown these qualities before. He’s led his Penguins to successive Stanley Cup Finals, winning it all in 2009. And he does possess many qualities that would make a parent proud.
This season, the other two nominees should have been goaltenders. In Buffalo, Ryan Miller provided greater service to his team than almost any other netminder. He started 68 games, won 41 of them, ranked second in the NHL with a 2.22 goals-against average and sported a .929 sv pct. Without Miller standing on his head (see the first round v. Boston), the Sabres were toast. Hart Trophy nominee for sure.
In Phoenix, Ilya Bryzgalov should not only be a nominee, he should be the 2010 Hart Trophy winner. 69 starts, 42 wins, 2.29 GAA, .920 sv pct and eight shutouts. And he did all that on a team whose leading scorer racked up the ridiculously low total of 55 points (33-year old Shane Doan), and whose offence saw just one 20-goal man (Radim Vrbata with 24). Clearly, no NHL team got more use or service out of anyone than Phoenix did out of Ilya Bryzgalov.
But, tomorrow night, Crosby, Ovechkin or Sedin will win the Hart. People will applaud. Speeches will be made. Photos will be taken. But I don’t know why. The trophy doesn’t mean anything anymore.