Searching for Hart Candidates to Accompany Alexander

Jack MeoffCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2009

Awards season is approaching, and it’s an important time.

Now that the All-Star break is past, it’s time to jump on our favorites for the major awards, promote them incessantly throughout the regular season, and pronounce them as the best players in hockey.

With the right combination of hype and repetition, the Hart can be a lock come February.

Before I begin I want to explain my three personal criteria of what makes a player an MVP candidate.

Points matter: The object of the game is to outscore your opponents. Which is the idea of every game except golf, and all these other games, except golf, routinely hand out their MVP awards to the most dominant offensive player.

(Golf doesn’t award an MVP because all the players are out for themselves).

Playoffs matter: What does it say about you if you’re the MVP of a losing team? Without you they’d be winners?

The last thing I look for in my Hart candidate is a player’s far reaching impact towards the betterment and promotion of Hockey as a whole. When you factor in these parameters into your decision I’m afraid the answer becomes fairly obvious—a young, dynamic player with mass appeal who the league markets at every opportunity.

Unfortunately, that player, Sidney Crosby, plays for a team that’s currently out of the playoffs, so with that in mind we’re left with one, obvious choice:

Alex Ovechkin. He’s the best player on the second best team in the conference, he leads the league in goals and is third in points, he’s arguably the best player in the league, he plays on the east coast, and he hits people (Which any European player needs to do in order to prove that he’s not soft).

It’s in the bag. Unfortunately the NHL is obligated to nominate three players for the Hart, so for the sake of argument, let’s weed out the two los—er, runner-ups—who’ll get decked out in black tie and be forced to suffer through Nickelback and the sight of the great N.8 hoisting the hardware in six months.


We’ll start in the East:

Boston Bruins

Zdeno Chara

To be honest, I just read that one of the ESPN guys liked him for the honor and put him here. I really haven’t seen him play that much.

Marc Savard

He plays for the best team in the East, he’s the premier set-up man in the conference, and he’s a top ten scorer. Of course, nominating him would insinuate that he might be better then Joe Thornton. I can’t do that. I won’t do that.

Tim Thomas

Goalies have their own award, the Vezina. Just like pitchers can’t win the MVP in baseball because they have the Cy, and relief pitchers can’t win the Cy because they have the Rolaids relievers cup, or something.


New Jersey Devils

Zach Parise

If I’m not nominating Savard, I’m sure as hell not nominating Parise.

Martin Brodeur

Again, see Tim Thomas. Except Brodeur will win the Vezina, whereas Thomas, he’ll just be nominated.

And while we’re here, don’t try to tell me that Brodeur’s absence should disqualify him for the award. If anything, his absence has made the Devils stronger.

By not being there, he’s forced them to be a better team then if he had been there. If that’s not the definition of valuable, I don’t know what is. I’m gonna have to break one of my own rules here, he’s nominated.

(Wait, that’s not good for the game.)



Montreal Canadians

United States first, Canada second, France 43rd. There’s not going to be anything French-Canadian going on here, because this is America. It doesn’t matter that most of us don’t care about hockey—Nickelback will be playing, and the banquet takes place in Canada.


New York Rangers

Jaromir Jagr

It’s been a bit of a down year for Jaromir. Haven’t really heard much from him.

Chris Drury

Chris Drury is the most clutch scorer in the National Hockey League. Unfortunately, he scores like Steve Ott the rest of the time.


Philadelphia Flyers

Jeff Carter

My buddy is a huge Flyers fan, so I’ve spent a few nights watching the Flyers play at his house. I feel pretty secure when I say he’s been impressive, but not Hart-impressive.

(Of course my buddy has a small TV and I have a hard time telling the difference between Carter and Scott Hartnell.  We also tend to drink heavily and have short attention spans)


Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby

He’s the perfect player, and although his team has stunk despite having two of the top three players in the league I’m just going to cross my fingers and insist they’ll make the playoffs until I’m blue in the face. Sidney’s nominated.


Evgeni Malkin

Through 48 games the Penguins aren’t a playoff team, and I’m sure that without him they’d still not be a playoff team. I don’t care how many points he’s scored. You’re out Evgeni, Apologies.


On to the West...


San Jose Sharks

Joe Thornton

He’s the best player on the best team in hockey, but let’s face it—he doesn’t have nearly as many goals as Ovechkin, the majority of his games start after ten, and in his past three playoffs he has only 30 points in 35 games. Clearly he can’t get it done.

Patrick Marleau

The leading goal scorer in the Western Conference, but that’s only good for fifth in the league—and we know the East is the tougher conference to play in because Ovechkin, Crosby, and Malkin play there. So to hell with Patrick Marleau.

Dan Boyle

Boyle has been the missing piece of the Sharks puzzle. He’s revolutionized their offense and has been excellent in his own end.

But here’s the problem. Defensmen have their own trophy, I believe it’s called the Lidstrom Blade, and Boyle is going to lose the Lidstrom Blade to Nik Lidstrom (hence the name).

Not even Gary Bettman would be stupid enough to allow a defenseman to be nominated for the league MVP when he can’t even win the award for his position.

I’m talking to you too, Zdeno.


Detroit Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk

Pavel Datsyuk has fewer points then A) Alexander Ovechkin and B) Evgeni Malkin. Logic dictates that they must be better players. Evgeni Malkin is already not going to be nominated. How can we nominate Pavel?

Henrik Zetterberg

He has even less points the Datsyuk.

(Hey! Two-What? Two-way?? Then say hello to the Selke, Henrik!)


Nik Lidstrom

The thing about Nik Lidstrom is that he’s the best defenseman in the league. He wins the Lidstrom Blade every year.


Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews

I was on TSN the other day looking at their sabermetric player rankings, and Toews was a paltry 78.72—22 points behind Ovechkin. A whole point behind Paul Stastny. Paul Stastny!


Calgary Flames

Jarome Iginla

When God carved out a hockey player, right after he carved out Crosby and Ovechkin of course, he carved out Jarome Iginla. Nobody plays with more heart then Iginla.

(That’s H-e-a-r-t, not H-a-r-t)

Unfortunately, it’s best to nominate a player from a Canadian team, and since we’re not taking teams from French Canadia and the other four Canadian teams aren’t very good, Jarome gets in by default.


So there you go: Alex Ovechkin wins the Hart while Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla fake smiles over the split screen. I don't see any other way.


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