Never in the history of the Calder Trophy has a Philadelphia Flyers rookie won the award. In Ron Hextall’s rookie year, 1987, he finished second to Luc Robitaille. Bobby Clarke, who’s synonymous with the Flyers, finished fourth the year Tony Esposito backstopped his way to the award. And not even Eric Lindros, who was one of the most hyped rookies in league history, finished higher than fourth in voting.
In total, Philadelphia has had 10 players finish in the top-five of Calder voting, but not once has a Flyer won the award. Hextall and Bill Barber came closest with second-place finishes, and no one from Philadelphia has come closer than fourth place since Matt Read in 2011-2012. But the Flyers’ 49-year Calder drought could be coming to an end this season and from the unlikeliest of sources: 22-year-old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
There’s no doubt Philadelphia had high hopes for Gostisbehere, the 78th overall pick in the 2012 draft, but no one would have expected that through 33 games he would be a near point-per-game player in his rookie season. Now, in the midst of an eight-game point streak, there should be some serious consideration given to Gostisbehere’s chances at making Flyers history, because he — not the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin, Sabres’ Jack Eichel or Oilers’ Connor McDavid — might have the best chance at beating out top rookie scorer Artemi Panarin for the Calder this season. Read more
Well, we now know that the NHL was pretty concerned about John Scott playing in the All-Star Game. In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Scott alleges that someone from the NHL called him and told him point-blank, “This game is not for you, John.” That person then alleged asked Scott, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”
Nice work. As if the league hadn’t made this enough of a debacle, Scott threw some pretty good gas on the fire there. He basically went on to say that was where he decided he was going to play in the game come hell or high water (insert joke about him being dispatched to Newfoundland to play in the minors here). “Because while I may not deserve to be an NHL all-star,” Scott went on to say, “I know I deserve to be the judge of what my kids will – and won’t – be proud of me for.”
On Friday, The Hockey News published its midseason NHL award picks and the choices weren’t too surprising. Patrick Kane is the heavy favourite for the Hart thanks to a huge lead in the NHL’s point-scoring race, Braden Holtby should have little trouble winning the Vezina, and Erik Karlsson is in line to take home consecutive Norris trophies. Nothing too unusual.
But I don’t think enough credit is being given to how great Karlsson has played so far. After Sunday night’s game Karlsson has 45 points in 43 games, an 86 point pace. In this era, that’s elite level scoring for any player – only Jamie Benn topped the mark last season. For a defensemen? It’s practically absurd. Not one D-man has picked up more than 85 points in a season since Brian Leetch did it in the 1995-96 season. That was 20 years ago – in a higher scoring era to boot.
Most NHL teams have reached the halfway points of their 2015-16 seasons, give or take a few games. It’s thus a fun time to double every player’s individual statistics and project how they’ll close out the year. Fifty-point guys are 100-point guys, 20-goal men are 40-goal snipers, and so on.
The midpoint also offers the ideal juncture for mid-season awards. We won’t pretend they mean anything official. A lot can change in the second half, and the season’s back nine may or may not carry the recency bias, meaning late-season surges carry slightly more weight than early-season heroics. Andrew Hammond debuted Feb. 16 last season and finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting and 15th in Hart voting.
Still, the awards are a fun way to take stock of the season to date. We held a vote between eight THN staff members to pick our mid-year Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Jack Adams winners. Finalists received five points per first-place vote, three per second-place vote and one per third-place vote.
Carey Price’s incredible 2014-15 campaign earned him the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Vezina Trophy and he was by all accounts the greatest player in the NHL last season. But Price, 28, wasn’t done winning hardware for his outstanding campaign. Tuesday, Price was awarded the 2015 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete.
Price had one of the all-time great single-season goaltending performances in 2014-15. His 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage were league-topping marks, and his 44 wins set a Canadiens franchise record. With those accomplishments, it’s not surprising that he was able to earn the nod for the award, which is handed out annually by a panel of Canadian sports journalists.
Price called the honor “unique,” adding it’s much different from winning the Vezina or Hart because for the Lou Marsh Trophy his achievements were being compared to those of others across all sports.
“This is another level for me,” Price said when asked how it compared to receiving awards from the hockey community. “Being compared to so many great athletes in Canada is definitely humbling. There are so many athletes that had such excellent years this year. To be the recipient of this award is very humbling.” Read more
The on-ice result in 2015-16 has been the antithesis of Patrick Kane’s tumultuous off-season. The Chicago Blackhawks star looks like he’ll run away with the league scoring crown this year. He broke the franchise record Sunday by extending his points streak to 22 games, and the way he did it summed up how rosily things have gone. Kane gloved the puck out of his zone and onto the stick of linemate Artemi Panarin, who scored on an empty Winnipeg Jets net from just past center ice.
Kane would wrap up the Art Ross for most points and probably the Hart Trophy as league MVP if the NHL season ended today. His 42 points are seven more than the next-closest player. Having amassed that total in 27 games, Kane is on pace for 128 points, which would be the highest total of the ‘New NHL’ era and the most since Mario Lemieux piled up 161 in 1995-96. Kane has the best hands in the NHL. He and perhaps Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson are the most dominant players in the game with the puck on their sticks. Kane was already on a Hall of Fame trajectory, but 2015-16 looks like the year he reaches a new stratosphere and delivers on the sky-high ceiling he displayed while racking up points as a London Knight in 2006-07.
What we shouldn’t lose in the Kane hoopla, however, is that he’s actually done something like this several times before. In 2013-14, by the end of December, he had 53 points in 42 games. Kane got 16 points in his next 27 games before a March injury ended his regular season. In 2008-09 he had 41 points after 34 games through the end of December and finished with 29 in his final 46 games. Kane has absolutely wowed us so far, but he’s actually producing perfectly in line with his career splits. Check ’em out:
In 13 years as Editor-in-Chief of The Hockey News, I’ve made a ton of suggestions on how to improve the game. You’d almost think I didn’t like it.
The truth is, I feel it’s part of my job to help stimulate conversation and debate. While hockey is still pretty darned fantastic, nothing is perfect.
What follows is a list of various things I’ve suggested, conceived, advocated or supported during my baker’s dozen years in my ivory tower.
These are the salad days for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Its list of inductees the past four years is a who’s who of NHL superstars from the turn of the century. The 15 players inducted between 2012 and 2015 represent a four-year run of inductees the Hall has never seen before.
In fact, I rated the top 10 induction classes from 1966 to this year and found each of the past four years to be worthy enough to be on that list. I picked strictly the post-expansion era because that’s when the HHOF reduced the number of inductees each year from unlimited down to three, then later four in the players category.
While this weekend’s Hall of Fame celebrations – and Monday’s induction ceremonies – are an opportunity for hockey fans to reflect and appreciate the exploits of these greats, there’s also a wedge of bitterness to go with all those sweet memories. After all, this crowning achievement in their careers also serves as a reminder we’re no longer blessed with watching them play.
This year’s class of Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger and Phil Housley rates as the third best class of all-time, by my assessment. But this is one of these subjective evaluations when I don’t mind being overruled by the savvy eye of the everyday hockey fan – yourself. Let us know what you think.