On June 20 the NHL will present its awards for the 2011-2012 season, and while either Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Malkin or Steven Stamkos will be presented the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player the person most deserving of the award wasn't even nominated.
The Los Angeles Kings are still celebrating the franchise's first Stanley Cup Championship in the 45-year history of the franchise, and were it not for the transcendent play of goalie Jonathan Quick this season the Kings most likely would not have even sniffed the postseason, much less made their improbable run into hockey history.
The 26-year-old Quick has already been awarded the Conn-Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason after stopping a ludicrous 125 of 132 shots during the Stanley Cup Finals. After posting a 1.95 goals-against average in the regular season Quick is also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league's top netminder.
However, Quick was left off the list of finalists for hockey's top individual honor, and although the list of nominees are certainly deserving Quick's omission hasn't escaped the notice of several hockey pundits, including ESPN's Craig Custance.
Quick was one of hockey's best stories. Without him, the Kings don't make the playoffs, and he carried the team during stretches this season in which Los Angeles barely scored at all. He finished with 35 wins and had to earn every one of them. His 1.95 goals-against average was the best among goalies with at least 60 starts.
There are probably a couple of factors that conspired to cost Quick at least a shot at winning the Hart Trophy. The first is that it's generally not an award given to goalies, with Jose Theodore of the Montreal Canadiens being the last goalie to win the award in 2002. The Hart Trophy is an award for players that light the lamp, not the ones who stop it from happening.
Second, the notion of "most valuable player" has become something of a misnomer in sports today, and hockey is no exception. Much more often than not MVP awards are given to the players that have the best individual seasons, not the ones who were most essential to their team's success in the postseason.
If the latter were the case, then Quick would be a shoo-in, but as things stand right now he'll be forced to smile and applaud as another one of hockey's standouts is named the game's "most valuable" player.
Quick and his teammates know better however, and given the Conn Smythe Trophy already on his mantle and that other trophy the Kings are passing around right now (the Stanley something I think it's called) somehow I think he'll live.
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