Will Sidney Crosby still win the Hart Trophy?
Sidney Crosby is expected to miss the rest of the regular season after taking a puck to the jaw, but he holds a 10-point lead in the scoring race. (Getty Images)
Will Sidney Crosby still win the Hart Trophy?
Random thoughts for a Monday morning, two days before trade deadline:
• If Sidney Crosby, as expected, misses the rest of the regular season, it will at least make the Hart Trophy race interesting. Before Crosby broke his jaw over the weekend, he had the award basically wrapped up. But the question now is, has Crosby done enough to this point to be the league’s MVP if he misses a quarter of his team’s games? Barring a furious late season charge by another prominent player, absolutely. So far, Crosby has been both the league’s best player and the most valuable to his team by a significant margin.
After all, who else has done enough to earn the award? Steven Stamkos? Now that Crosby is hurt, Stamkos will likely lead the NHL in both goals and points. But there’s almost no way a minus player on a non-playoff team is going to be named MVP. And just because Stamkos will lead all players in the two most important offensive categories does not make him a shoo-in for the Hart. In fact, a player has led the league in those two categories 42 times in NHL history and in fewer than half of those occasions (19) has the player also won the Hart Trophy. Phil Esposito (’71-’73) and Charlie Conacher (’34-’35) are examples of those who have been shutout of the Hart Trophy despite leading in offense.
• And on that subject, perhaps it’s the shortened season, but I can’t remember a year in which almost all the awards were so wide open. Think about it, if you had to pick the winners of the Hart, Calder, Vezina, Norris or Selke Trophies right now, would any one of them be a slam dunk?
• If any team in the NHL gives up a first round pick for Ryane Clowe with his zero goals and expiring contract before Wednesday’s trade deadline, its ownership should seriously look at whether that individual is capable of running a hockey operations department. And Sean Couturier? Really?
The fact Clowe is apparently making a prerequisite to whichever team deals for him that it negotiate a long-term deal should make him trade deadline poison. Instead, he might be the most coveted commodity at the deadline. No wonder they call this the silly season.
• So the Roberto Luongo, uh, Sweepstakes appear to have heated up again. Now if Mike Gillis can actually receive something in return for Luongo, at the trade deadline or any other time, more power to him. But if I’m a GM dealing with Gillis, I offer him absolutely nothing. The Canucks getting out from under that onerous contract and freeing up the cap space is all they should expect in return.
• All those teams that are chasing Jay Bouwmeester should check the NHL Guide and Record Book before they give up too much. Yes, Bouwmeester has had an outstanding season and, yes, he logs huge minutes. But there has to be a reason why he hasn’t played a playoff game in his career, no?
• A quick piece of non-hockey advice. Don’t give up chocolate for Lent if you’re addicted to it in the first place. You’ll eat enough of it Easter Sunday to make up for the 46 days and nights you went without it and feel terrible.
• Something still doesn’t seem right about the Jarome Iginla trade. What I still haven’t been able to reconcile is that if Iginla was so intent on going to the Pittsburgh Penguins all along, why didn’t he simply waive his no-trade clause only to go to Pittsburgh? In the end, Iginla said his decision came down to the opportunity to play with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Well, last time I checked, that opportunity existed when he submitted his list of desired destinations, too.
What almost always happens in these cases is that a player with a no-trade clause formally submits a list of teams to which he would approve a trade and that list is signed off on by the player. At that point, the player basically gives up his right to select his destination among those he submitted. So, one of two things happened. Either that list was an informal one that was never signed by Iginla or Flames GM Jay Feaster let him out of it to allow him to go to Pittsburgh. In fact, it looks as though Penguins GM Ray Shero sniffed out what was going on and realized he could get Iginla basically for nothing because he had an idea Iginla wasn’t going to go anywhere else.
“The GM needs to get it in writing,” said one observer who has experience both on the management and agent sides of the business. “You just can’t have happen what happened. If it had been in writing, then the GM would not have let him out of it because this is critical to the franchise.”
• The Women’s World Hockey Championship opens Tuesday in Ottawa. I’m going to go way out on a limb and predict Canada and USA in the gold medal game. Actually, it will be interesting to see how much progress, if any, the Russian program has made. You’d think they’d put more into women’s hockey if they think they have even a chance of winning a medal on home soil in 2014.
• Sean Avery was a fourth-liner whose enormous mouth earned him far more attention than he ever deserved as a player. Now, he’s a former fourth-liner whose enormous mouth is earning him far more attention than he ever deserves as a former player.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Ken on Twitter at @THNKenCampbell.