The Hart Trophy is awarded each year to the
player who is “deemed to be the most valuable to his team”. Technically the
current trophy is called the Hart Memorial Trophy as the original cup was
retired to the Hall of Fame in 1960 but regardless of what it’s called the Hart
Memorial Trophy is more widely known as the MVP award.
Voting for the MVP takes place at the end
of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers
Association. Each member of the association designates his or her top 5
candidates using a point system. The top three finalists are announced ahead of
time but the winner is not named until the NHL Awards ceremony, which takes
place after the playoffs.
Which leads us to this moment in time when
the three finalists have been named and the speculation on who will be named
this year’s MVP can begin in earnest. Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, and Jamie
Benn are this year’s finalists. Let the debating begin!
Actually, truth be told, there may not be so
much discussion and argument this year. In fact, there seems to be very little
as almost everyone agrees that Patrick Kane is as close to a shoe-in for the
award as there has ever been.
A 27-year old right-winger for the Chicago
Blackhawks, Kane led the NHL with 106 points this season. He either scored or
assisted on 45% of the Blackhawk’s goals this season. It’s hard to imagine
someone being “deemed more valuable to his team” than that. He is also the
first American-born player to lead the league in scoring and is trying to be
the first Blackhawk to win the award since Stan Mikita in 1968.
Amazing puck handling, incredible passing,
and thunderous shooting have always been part of Kane’s game but this year he
has particularly excelled giving him the scoring championship with a 17 and 21
point lead on Benn and Crosby respectively.
It’s hard to imagine giving the award to one of the other finalists, not that
they haven’t had their own incredible seasons. Benn finished the season with
career bests in power play goals (17) and goals (41). He is the first player in
the Dallas Stars’ history to be named a finalist for the Hart Trophy. Sidney Crosby
is no stranger to MVP voting having won it twice in the past. With 85 points on
the season he not only led the Pittsburgh Penguins in scoring but also led
among centers throughout the NHL.
But when you look at the player “deemed to
be the most valuable to his team” you have to consider impact and there seems
to be general consensus that Kane’s stellar performance this year helped
Chicago excel at a time when many of his teammates were having difficulty
producing offense on their own. Kane’s play made the people around him better.
But for now we wait. The ballots are in. Predictions
will be made. Bets placed. Either way, we’ll all find out at the NHL Awards
show in Vegas this June.
Labels: Michael Quinn