Top 10 Hart Trophy candidates for 2014-15

Matt Larkin
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are again leading candidates to win the Hart. (Getty Images)

The Hart Trophy debate is my favorite of the Great Hockey Debates, largely because nobody knows what the award truly means.

By definition, the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes for “the player judged to be most valuable to his team.” It’s debatable whether that happens. Last year, it’s safe to say the Penguins would’ve gone nowhere without Sidney Crosby. But was any player more valuable to his team the year before than John Tavares, who almost singlehandedly took the Islanders to the playoffs? He finished third in the vote, with the Hart going to the defensively deficient but offensively potent Alex Ovechkin.

More often that not, the Hart skews toward prolific point totals, so keep in mind that my top 10 Hart candidates for 2014-15 factor in that common bias. Sorry, Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar.

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Best bets for the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Norris, Vezina and Calder Trophies

Alex Ovechkin (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Hockey is in the air. Pre-season games are on the TV, jerseys for the Winter Classic are being released, Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel has been at the center of a non-story…the world is right again.

And before you know it, the games will start counting.

We’ve been previewing each NHL team and releasing top 10 lists related to the upcoming season. We can’t wait to see how it all starts to unfold.

Today, gambling site Bodog released odds on who will take home the major individual NHL awards this season. Below, we take a look at the lines set by Bodog and provide what we think are some decent picks – plus a few off the board options for you to consider and guys to stay away from.

Who will win the 2014 Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player?
Sidney Crosby: 7/4
Ryan Getzlaf: 6/1
Steven Stamkos: 6/1
John Tavares: 8/1
Alex Ovechkin: 12/1
Claude Giroux: 15/1
Tyler Seguin: 15/1
Evgeni Malkin: 15/1
Jonathan Toews: 16/1
Anze Kopitar: 18/1
Corey Perry: 20/1
Patrick Kane: 20/1
Jamie Benn: 35/1
Tuukka Rask: 35/1
Henrik Lundqvist: 40/1
Jonathan Quick: 50/1
Carey Price: 50/1
Erik Karlsson: 50/1
Nathan MacKinnon: 50/1

Best bets: OK, so if Crosby stays healthy, he’s more of a lock to be a Hart Trophy contender than anyone else. That’s obvious. If you want to make a safe pick, but think Crosby’s health is too big of a risk for the 7/4 odds he holds, Stamkos at 6/1 is your guy on a bulked up Tampa Bay Lightning squad. But how about Evgeni Malkin at 15/1? If Crosby does go down, Malkin is a great candidate to take over that team and explode up the scoring chart. Of course, he comes with injury risk too. Read more

Top 10 Art Ross Trophy candidates for 2014-15

John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

In the 21 seasons between 1980-81 and 2000-01, a total of three players won the NHL scoring championship. Perhaps you’ve heard of them – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

In the 12 seasons since then, nine players have won it and nobody has taken home the Art Ross Trophy in successive seasons. We at thn.com predict that trend to continue. And if our crystal ball isn’t defective, there will be another first-time winner this season.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 choices for the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15, in descending order. Read more

A new statue for every franchise in the NHL

Ryan Kennedy
Luc-Robitaille

The Los Angeles Kings will honor Luc Robitaille with his own statue outside the Staples Center, where he will join fellow luminary Wayne Gretzky. But let’s play Oprah here and give everybody a statue! Below you’ll find new candidates for every NHL franchise. Legends who already have statues are noted, too. And yes, some players get two statues because they managed to win hearts in multiple cities.

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Introducing the Combativity Award – and the winner is David Backes

St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs

I’ve been watching the Tour de France nightly the past couple of weeks and am taken by one of the awards they give out after each stage. It’s the Combativity Award and it goes to the cyclist that day who shows the most fighting spirit.

This isn’t about tossing an elbow out when a competitor tries to zoom by or sticking a leadpipe in the spokes of an unsuspecting rival. The combative award goes to the individual who attacks on the road. That is to say, the cyclist who makes the most attempts to break away from the peloton or chase down leading groups. It’s also called the most aggressive rider prize, or as TDF analyst Paul Sherwen calls it, the rider who most often “throws the cat among the pigeons.”

The winner each stage gets called to the podium, is handed a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal, gets kisses from a pair of pretty ladies, then shakes the hands of dignitaries. During the next day’s stage, he wears a special red-backgrounded race number that denotes his distinction.

So why is they don’t have a most combative award in the NHL? They have awards for being skilled in a multitude of ways, for being gentlemanly, for being defensive, for being dedicated, for being a humanitarian, a leader. But nothing for showing the most fighting spirit. And that’s really too bad.

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Transparency, clarity, instancy and Kate Upton: Four ways to fix the NHL Awards

Adam Proteau
Kate Upton

The NHL Awards went off without incident – well, almost without incident – but let’s face it, in terms of entertainment value, the show teeters between polite applause and stunned bemusement. The awards also create more than their share of controversy, and not just in the expected and natural debate about winners and runners-up. And although the NHL Awards are in some ways better than they’ve been in past years, there’s still some work that needs done.

Here are four ways I’d make the NHL Awards better:

1. Full disclosure from vote-casters. As I argued yesterday, compared to the Hockey Hall of Fame Awards, the NHL Awards are a model of transparency. That said, the process could and should benefit from fully embracing transparency and revealing how members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (myself included) voted.

This way, when fans are alarmed to see the voting results include someone casting a second-place Hart Trophy vote for Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist as someone did this year, they can turn to the voter in question and ask he or she to defend their rationale. We might not agree with the explanation, but at least we’d have one.

There’s little hockey writers loathe more than the anonymous cowards who dwell in the comments section, so I don’t know how any of us can continue justifying hiding behind anonymity during the time we cast our ballots.

2. More direct descriptions of awards. As noted above, you’re always going to have fans arguing over which player was most deserving of any award. However, there’s an increasing problem with the voting, and it’s all about subjective interpretation. For instance, for years, some voters have looked at the Hart Trophy in its strictest definition – the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team – and other voters (myself included) have come to see it as the league’s most outstanding player. (The short version why: because value is subjective, whereas “outstanding” allows for a wider breadth of candidates to be considered.)

Similarly, the Norris Trophy (won this year by Hawks blueliner Duncan Keith) has, more often than not in the past three years, gone to a player who was especially proficient at one end of the rink, and not nearly so effective in his own zone. That flies in the face of the description of the honor, which is to be given to the defenseman who possesses “the greatest all-around ability” at the position. That simply wasn’t true with either P.K. Subban or Erik Karlsson, yet they won the Norris in the two years prior to this past season. Something is wrong here.
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NHL Award voting results: Sidney Crosby runs away with Hart Trophy, Avalanche have huge night

Sidney Crosby

The NHL Awards ceremony returned to Las Vegas Tuesday night. The show was it’s usual “meh” self, but was highlighted by Jabbawockeez and an over-the-top Cuba Gooding Jr.

(via Josh Gold-Smith)

Most of this year’s awards had obvious winners, but others were a little tougher to call. Who would win the Vezina and the Norris? Was Patrick Roy a shoe-in for the Jack Adams, even though his team relied so heavily on an otherworldly season from Semyon Varlamov? Here are the results of this year’s awards, including the final tabulations.

And don’t forget to check out THN’s in-house awards.

HART TROPHY

Ryan Getzlaf really had an excellent season, especially the first half. And if Sidney Crosby didn’t win the scoring race by 17 points this season, the MVP would surely have been Getzlaf’s. Read more

The Hockey News Awards: Crosby, Chara take home multiple honors

The Hockey News
Crosby-Chara Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

In our May 26 “Lists Issue”, we handed out our annual hardware, which differs from the NHL’s offerings that will be revealed tonight in Las Vegas. In case you missed it, here’s who we feel was this season’s best of the best:

Wayne Gretzky Award (MVP): Sidney Crosby
Usually, the Penguins rely on their supporting cast to step up when Crosby is hurt. It was the opposite in 2013-14. He played 80 of 82 games and did so at an elite level.
Runners up: 2. Claude Giroux; 3. Semyon Varlamov; 4. Ryan Getzlaf; 5. Ben Bishop

Mario Lemieux Award (Best Player): Sidney Crosby
A healthy Crosby is the best player of his generation and he didn’t disappoint in a full season, reaching 100 points for the fifth time and winning the scoring title by 17 points.
Runners up: 2. Ryan Getzlaf; 3. Claude Giroux; 4. Patrice Bergeron; 5. Corey Perry

Patrick Roy Award (Best Goalie): Tuukka Rask
Despite concerns about how he’d hold up over an 82-game schedule, all Rask did was finish in the league’s top-five in wins (36), goals-against average (2.04), save percentage (.930) and shutouts (seven).
Runners up: 2. Semyon Varlamov; 3. Ben Bishop; 4. Carey Price; 5. Sergei Bobrovsky Read more