I’m not the best at predicting winners for NHL awards. Last season, for example, I only had two correct picks (Patrice Bergeron for Selke and Max Pacioretty for Masterton). It comes down to a halfhearted defense of their attributes and stubbornly refusing to let go of my pick even if everyone else points out that I’m very, very wrong. I’m going to do that right now, but with one exception: the defense won’t be halfhearted.
Everyone’s clamoring over Sidney Crosby, saying that he’s on track for over 80 points in this condensed season and proclaiming him their midseason pick for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. That’s all well and good, but I say that their picks are wasted. The criterion for the Hart is that the player chosen was the most valuable to his team during the regular season. It’s not just a case of having the most points overall, it’s what the player does for his team. In that case, I think the Hart should be awarded to the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane.
Kane is not just the Blackhawks’ top scorer, but he’s also their best clutch scorer. Go back to their March 3 game against the Detroit Red Wings. If Kane hadn’t been standing where he was, that game would’ve ended the team’s points streak right then and there. The same people who are crowning Crosby are also praising Kane, saying that he’s nothing short of incredible this year, even when he doesn’t score any points in a game.
What does Kane have that Crosby doesn’t? For me, it’s the puck skills. To watch Kane deke his way through defensemen is breathtaking. You don’t hear about Crosby having sick or silky mitts like you do with Kane. He may not have Crosby’s aggressiveness, but Kane makes up for that in stickhandling and plays that seemingly only he can make.
Crosby is expected to have the kind of season he’s having, and truth be told, he’s not the Pittsburgh Penguins’ MVP. That goes to Chris Kunitz, who’s showing that Crosby’s not the only one on the team who can score goals. To give Crosby credit for Kunitz’s success shortchanges Kunitz’s talent.
Kane deserves to have this honor for the huge part he’s played in the Blackhawks’ success this season. This award is about contributing to the team, and he’s done just that. In the end, Crosby will probably win because of his points and because, well, it’s expected of him. If Kane’s not at least a finalist, it’ll be a shame to see his efforts go unrewarded.