Hart Trophy Should Be A Two-Horse Race

It's a two-horse race. Will Henrik Sedin win the Hart Trophy this year? (Photo by Harry How)

With the regular season winding down it’s only fitting we should start seeing opinions on who should win the Hart Trophy, “given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”

Edward Fraser feels there are a quintet of contenders while Ken Campbell argues Henrik Sedin deserves to be included in the conversation but doesn’t deserve to win it. Tim Morgan thinks both Gaborik and Lundqvist deserve nominations but when it comes down to it, based on previous voting, it is shaping up to be a two-horse race: Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin.  (Sorry Sidney, maybe next year?)

Since 1998-9 (the first year of the Maurice Richard Trophy) the voters seem to reward players that rank 1st or 2nd in Points for the regular season. Only G Jose Theodore (2001-2002) and D Chris Pronger (1999-2000) are the exceptions during this time frame.

That leads me to believe it will come down to Ovechkin and Sedin despite the outcome as they battle for the Art Ross Trophy.

So lets look at the contenders:

Henrik Sedin

Henrik has really decoupled himself from his twin brother this season, and showed he is the driving force behind Vancouver’s success this season. And while he may not be as dynamic as Ovechkin (or Crosby for that matter) Henrik has quietly shown the ability to be the exact type of player Vancouver has needed: Never going longer than four games without a point this season.

Alex Ovechkin
Will Alex Ovechkin win the Hart Trophy For The Third Straight Year?

If you ignore the suspensions and Russia’s let-down in the Olympics, the biggest knock on the reigning Hart winner’s chances to threepeat (something which only two other players have ever done: Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky) seems to be that the Caps went 7-2-1 without him in the lineup this season. But as Ed Frankovic correctly points out 4 of those wins came against Florida and the two losses were to New Jersey, a team the Caps could potentially see in the playoffs. With Ovechkin in the lineup the Caps went 1-0-1 against those same Devils. And Nate Ewell reminded us last night, Caps have a better record with Ovi as captain (.821) than they did when he was out of the lineup (.750)

Plus, Sedin is only close to Ovechkin in Total Points because he has played in 10(!) more games than Ovechkin. If we adjust Ovechkin’s stats to an 82 game season, the point totals look much different:

  1. Alexander Ovechkin, 124
  2. Henrik Sedin, 109

And then we aren’t even having a debate. So look for Ovechkin to become the NHL’s third threepeat Hart Trophy winner.

  • delgrae

    All you Ovie fans are going to be REALLY surprised and upset when you find out next week that Ovie didn’t win the hart trophy. Sorry Ovie, maybe next year.

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  • Mr Beverage

    “Sorry Ovie, maybe next year.”

    maybe this year, probably next year, definitely the last 2 years… to recap the arguments against OV this year:
    1) his NHL team is still really really really good without him
    2) his non-NHL team didn’t perform as well as expected in non-NHL games
    3) he played in 8-10 less NHL games than his peers atop the scoring charts
    4) he stuck his knee out once, and hit a guy who was already falling once

  • badvibesdude

    The past two years Caps fans and Ovechkin supporters have argued that Ovechkin deserved the Hart mainly because the Caps would not be in the playoffs without him. They argued against Malkin last year saying that he also had Crosby on his team so the Pens would still be fine without him and the Hart isn’t an award for the finest individual season so Malkin’s scoring title shouldn’t figure into it.

    Now Ovechkin is surrounded by a bunch of world-class players, including a potential Norris-winning defensemen. The Caps have a good record without Ovechkin. Naturally, the Hart is now an award for the finest individual season.

    The Caps get to play 6 games against Tampa, Florida, Atlanta, and Carolina. They would have made the playoffs this year without Ovechkin. They would have been at least a 3-seed.

    The Hart should go to Sedin, Miller or Bryzgalov according to the criteria espoused by Ovechkin backers over the past two years. Ovechkin doesn’t deserve it this year and, if he wins it, there’s going to be a lot of backlash against him from fans around the league. People were sick of Crosby getting shoved down their throats and perceived that he was being handed awards and accolades that he didn’t earn. The same will happen to Ovechkin if he wins a Hart that he doesn’t deserve.

  • breaklance

    @Delgrae, Hart Trophy isn’t found out until June as it is voted upon by “the hockey experts”. You may of meant the Art Ross scoring trophy.

    What amuses me though is that a lot people use the “his team is awesome” arguement as if that means he hasn’t had a great year. Having a great team never stopped Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr or Mario Lemuix from winning an MVP because they were just that good. Also the suspension arguements didn’t stop guys like Mark Messier, suspended 7 times didn’t stop him from winning MVP honors.

  • badvibesdude

    Breaklance,

    The “his team is awesome” argument isn’t that simple. Furthermore, it’s the argument Caps fans and Ovie backers used to argue against Malkin winning it last year. Well, the shoe is on the other foot. You can’t go changing the criteria now because it doesn’t benefit Ovechkin anymore.

    Again, it doesn’t matter how good of a year Ovechkin is having. The Hart isn’t the award for best individual performance, at least according to a lot of the writers that voted for Ovechkin in 2008-09. That’s why Malkin didn’t win the Hart last year.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    @badvibesdude An argument can be made that the Caps would not have “a bunch of world-class players, including a potential Norris-winning defensemen” if not for Ovechkin. That, in of itself, is deserving of the Hart.

    Plus, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, meaning: you can’t say the Caps have a good record without Ovechkin when 4 of those 7 wins come against teams which you allude to as being “soft.”

    I think the Caps record since he has been captain (.821 win%) is WAY more indicative to the contribution he has had to the team. And I believe that contribution outweighs any Crosby or Sedin have done.

    -Neil

  • Taylor

    “Sorry Sidney, maybe next year” or not hopefully.

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  • BobbyG

    I don’t think a player like Ovie should be penalized and dismissed as a Hart Trophy winner just because he’s surrounded by a lot of other great players. What makes the other players great? Maybe it’s because Ovie is their leader and mentor and they strive to do well to justify his faith in them. Ovie is the Caps Captain for a reason, and yes, I’m a huge Ovie fan and not ashamed to admit it. I hope he wins another Hart Trophy if only to shut up his detractors.

  • K

    I think when we look at the MVP, we should look at the impact he has on his teammates. While Ovechkin and Crosby have undoubted value to their teams, where would Vancouver be without H.Sedin? He made Alex Burrows into a 35 goal scorer and Samuelsson into a 30 goal scorer. Not to mention he is magic when playing with his brother, Daniel. Even without him for 17 games, Henrik Sedin still produced point-per-game numbers.

    The argument that Ovechkin has played 10 less games (than H.Sedin) is invalid because he gets more ice time per game. When we look at total ice time in the season, H.Sedin only had around 40 minutes more than Ovechkin. Also, Ovechkin gets much more quality ice time. He gets more powerplay time than H.Sedin, and Ovechkin does not really kill penalties whereas H.Sedin kills penalties from time to time.

    My vote goes to Henrik Sedin.