I was thinking a little bit about the Hart Trophy last night, and I came to this conclusion: if you’re one of the people who actually uses the most literal definition of the award - “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team” - then you’re rendering it a pretty pointless award.
Let’s go for a walk.
I was privileged enough to vote last year (you can see how I voted here, with explanations), and I used the following tweets from Tyler Dellow in that post to highlight why I was voting the way I was. I also specified that I think “lunatic” is a bit much, but anyway, here we go:
“Player adjudged most valuable to his team” can mean two things. The lunatic interpretation is “Player whose share of the total value of his team is greatest.” This is the one people are adopting. The sane people interpretation is “Player who provides the most value to his team” with “value” being simply a raw counting number, not factoring in how much total value his team has. I mean, on the criteria these people are explicitly adopting, Zack Stortini could win the Hart, if you put him on a team with 19 mes. “Well, that team was the worst team in NHL history, but Stortini is undeniably miles ahead of all those Dellows.”
I got to rehashing this while watching a debate on TSN over who should win the much-venerated award, and a couple respectable panelists made the case for John Tavares, who is amazing and extremely valuable and yada yada yada, but…are you serious? You wouldn’t vote for Sidney Crosby at this point in the NHL season? Someone get me a paper bag I’m freaking out.
If you actually want to go “Guy who is basically the best player on his team by the largest margin,” then hell, you can start getting really weird with your choice. Buffalo’s brutal, but without Ryan Miller they would be a la-ha-ha-haughingstock. Jiri Hudler has almost twice as many points as the next-best player on Calgary. Ben Bishop is dragging the Lightning to playoffs. There’s that bizarre idea of value everywhere.
So my point is, after that long walk, let’s say the Hart was for “value provided to team,” literally. What would be the point of that? What are we trying to identify? The worst team who had the most disproportionately great player? That’s just a luck award for one of the league’s best players. It would be pointless. And rookie of the year goes to rookie who most outperforms the team’s second best rookie.
So ANYWAY. If it wasn’t clear by now, my Hart Trophy to date would go to Sidney Crosby, because I believe him to be the player who gives his team the most, whether they need him to or not.
(Note: incidentally, Crosby has been in on more of his team’s goals this year than any player in the league, so he’s got everyone’s vote at this point. Nice and easy when that happens.)