The hot debate right now. Does Ovechkin deserve the Hart trophy? Should it matter that a player who is in the running for this trophy might not take his team to the playoffs?
I would like to start the article off by answering the first question, and it couldn't be easier for me to type this 3 letter word...YES!! Of course Alex deserves the Hart trophy. Let me leave aside the fact that I'm a fan of his and of the Capitals and just state the obvious facts. At this point in time, he leads the league in goals and pts. He is the first player since the great Mario Lemieux in the mid 90's to hit the 60 goal plateau and isn't finished scoring left with 6 games to go. He also has a great chance at becoming the NHL's all time leading scorer at the left wings position breaking Luc Robitaille's record of 63 goals. Next closest in goals this year, is fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk. Ovechkin leads his team in goals, 2nd in assists, pts, and hits...that's right, hits! He is also a +23 rating. Now I understand that when you score that much, your plus/minus should be high but he's on a team that literally just got over the hump in terms of scoring more goals than giving up. Nothing against teammates Backstrom, Semin, Nylander (hurt), V. Kozlov and the next coming off Paul Coffey, Mike Green, the Capitals have decent depth but to say that Ovie has carried them on his back is an understatement. Whenever they seem to be down or lack that extra motivation, Alex scores a timely goal and his wild celebrations always seem to cause a spark. How could it not? I get pumped up and excited seeing him celebrate like he does and I'm just watching it on tv. I wish there were more players with his heart and passion for the game. To take Ovechkin off the Capitals or loose him to injuries would be devastating. I'm sure they would be a last place team. Lose Crosby to injury and luckily Malkin has stepped up to keep the Penguins near the top of the Eastern Conference. That's not to say the penguins have more depth than the Capitals, they just coped with loosing their main guy. If Crosby doesn't get injured, he would most likely be leading the NHL in points and a front runner for the MVP again. Just so happens the penguins have 2 of the best 3 players in the league right now. Of course, this is mere speculation as we don't know what would happen if Ovie goes down. Maybe Alex Semin steps up and nets 40/50 goals. We don't know and luckily don't have to find out. Some might say, "well what about Martin Brodeur?" Sure he deserves a nomination, but in my opinion he's just being Martin Brodeur. He hasn't particularly been anything he hasn't been in the past. He's the leader of a less than stellar defense and a team that doesn't score alot of goals. Same thing every year. I think that deserve alot of credit, but I say give him the Vezina.
Let's now go into my 2nd question of the article. Should it matter that Ovechkin leads his team to the playoffs to win the Hart trophy. Again, this is an easy one. Of course it should not. Here's why. Traditionalists and history shows that only 3 players ever have won the Hart without making the playoffs. Last player to do so was mario lemieux in 88-89. Well I say break that tradition because it's irrelevant these days. The NHL has adapted a new structure with the salary cap. Teams have become less dominating for the most part, and more teams than ever are fighting for the playoffs. As it stands the difference between 8th seed and the 12th place team in both conferences with just 2 weeks to go is only 4 and 5 pts! When has the race to make it in the playoffs ever been so tight? never. The Capitals are only out by 2 pts right now. If the Caps fail to make the playoffs, it will most likely only be by 1 or 2 pts. To hold a player in the running for MVP accountable for such a small gap is absurd. What more can Ovechkin possibly do to prove himself. In my opinion he wins the Hart in a landslide. As hockey standards change so should people's opinion. Tradition needs to step aside, playoffs or not, Alexander Ovechkin deserves to be this years MVP.