I was feeling rather good this morning after watching the Chicago Blackhawks advance to the conference semifinals last night. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, my cats were sleeping contentedly. Then my best friend texted me about the Hart Trophy nominations. Cue the stock footage of a mushroom cloud and woodland creatures running for their lives out of the forest.
How shall I explain why the list is bogus? Let’s see: Sidney Crosby is given too much credit for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ success because they won eight of their last 12 games while he was injured. Alex Ovechkin was only awake for the last 23 games of the season (and has since brought the “Apathetic Ovechkin Backcheck” to the playoffs). The only player of the three who deserves the trophy is John Tavares. By all accounts, including one from a friend who lives on Long Island, he’s the reason the New York Islanders had their amazing season. Without him, the team would be foundering at the bottom of the league once again.
Do you know who was excluded from that list? Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Everyone outside of Chicago said that they both deserved to be nominated, but I guess they were just being patronizing jerks toward the two best players from the best team in the league. How can you say that Toews doesn’t deserve consideration? He’s one of, if not the best captain today. His leadership is immeasurable, and he makes his team better just by being on it. And look how he’s mentored Brandon Saad, who happens to be a Calder Trophy nominee. Show me another captain who’s mentored his team’s younglings this season like Toews has done.
As for Kane, he’s had an amazing turnaround after struggling for two seasons. He was in the top five for scoring, he led the team in points and was hot with the puck all season. Above that, his game improved vastly. He became more defensive, which surprised Blackhawks fans, and he became unselfish with his passing. He became a threat to other teams with every shift he took. It was rare to see him make a stupid move.
Most importantly, Kane and Toews were consistent in their play from the beginning of the season. You can’t point to either one and say that they alone were the reason for how well the Blackhawks did. The same can’t be said for Crosby and Ovechkin.
I know Tavares won’t win Hart this year, but that’s all right. I hope Kane and Toews win the trophy that matters the most. Then the people who snubbed them for Hart can kiss their Stanley Cup rings and beg their forgiveness.