Middletown, N. J – The photo you see above is not the image that was Alex Ovechkin yesterday I would safely assume. After being eliminated in the opening round of the NHL playoffs by the New York Rangers and the captain looking totally outmatched and frustrated in the series, to the point of proven outright laziness unbecoming a professional athlete of any sport, we can all see it clearly now….a smiling #8 sitting somewhere on a beach, sipping a cold Pina Colada with his lovely lady by his side and graciously accepting an award for which he simply did not earn.
I am not taking anything away from the man’s pure talent. Electrifying on his skates and an absolute bull in a china shop all while possessing a laser like shot, he certainly draws people to the Verizon Center and keeps them coming back. But let’s be totally honest here. With 8 goals in his first 21 games while brooding over new head coach Adam Oates‘ new style of play that took ‘adjusting’ (so sick and tired of that excuse by the way), he decided to play the second half of the schedule after being reunited with old linemate Niklas Backstrom to the tune of 24 goals in his last 27 games. And in the playoffs against the Rangers, who can forget when this happened…..
Take a look at the scoreboard. It was hardly a blowout for the Rangers, it’s a 3-2 game on the road IN THE PLAYOFFS! That is who the league selects to represent them as the most valuable player to his team?
I just find it very hard to justify some of the other award recipients too if you truly take a look at what each award REALLY means. Throw out the statistics and just think about it for a good long hard couple of minutes. Say the award in your head and repeat the ‘official’ definition and I guarantee you will come to a different conclusion for the below as well.
Ok this one is close I admit but with very similar debut seasons in the National Hockey League was Jonathan Huberdeau really more ‘proficient’ than Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks? Stepping onto the best team in the league and not disrupting chemistry all while contributing almost 30 points and a +17? Interesting decision but admittedly not the most egregious.
I credit Sergei Bobrovsky for coming to a Columbus team in disarray and having a fantastic season. Played simply out of his mind for stretches. The problem is saying he is the BEST goaltender in the entire league. For my money and a lot of other people’s as well, there is no doubt in my mind that Henrik Lundqvist, consistently, is the best at his position. Faced with the nightly stress of playing behind a team that struggles to score two goals a night is extremely taxing mentally and year in and year out Hank comes through with magnificence. Cheers to Bobo but in my opinion, he will be hard pressed to follow 2013 up with a similar performance, ala Ryan Miller.
P.K Subban is a thrill to watch from the defense position. There has not been a player in the league for a long time that has made so many stand up when he carries the puck. But the award is for the ‘greatest ALL around ability at the position’. If there was an award for the most offensive defenseman or biggest trash talker, he would win every year hands down. But was he better ALL AROUND than Ryan Suter? That is like saying coffee does not taste better with Bailey’s Irish cream in it. ITS JUST NOT TRUE.
Perhaps being snubbed for the MVP gets Johnathan Toews some sympathy votes here. Is he a great defensive forward? Absolutely. Throw in his offense and he is the unquestioned leader of the best team in hockey. But coming off concussion issues and picking up like he never was injured in the first place gets Patrice Bergeron this award hands down. Bergeron is just that good and nobody plays the two way position better.
JACK ADAMS AWARD
I love what Paul MacLean did in Ottawa with all those injuries. Most nights, it looked like he was fielding an AHL squad and he instituted a defensive system that was easy to acquire and led the Senators all the way to the playoffs. But what Joel Quenneville did in Chicago is amazing. The undefeated streak and now playing for the Stanley Cup all while keeping some pretty big egos in check and harmony in the locker room. Not to mention the personal tutelage he gave Patrick Kane and there is no coincidence to the fact we saw 88 at his very best this year. Showing confidence in Corey Crawford when nobody else would gets him bonus points towards being deserving of this award in my opinion.
GM OF THE YEAR
So…..I go out and acquire Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen. Let’s break that down very quickly shall we? Two guys who can barely skate anymore and are way too slow for today’s NHL, an aging superstar on his last legs and a forward who played the back end of your third line towards the end of the season. And all that got Pittsburgh was a tremendous amount of trouble against the New York Islanders and a cakewalk against a tired and deer in headlights Ottawa Senators team before getting manhandled by the Boston Bruins. And he keeps Dan Bylsma who is most responsible for the lack of discipline that the Pens star players CONTINUE to show every year. Yep, that’s worthy of an award.
The other awards not mentioned were either on the mark or nobody cares about them. I mean, the Lady Byng? Really? At the end of the day, just as the NHL has a huge officiating problem on its hands and player safety issues continuing to rise, these awards have become the league’s equivalent of the Pro Bowl.
I am fairly certain the hardcore fan could care less at this point with the popularity contest they have become and it would not surprise me in the future to see some sports writers bow out of the voting as well. After all, for the most part, they screwed it up in the first place. Where is Ernst and Young when you need them to audit these things?