Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why Are We Even Debating This?

I don't want to wade too far into the Hart Trophy eligibility debate, in part because so much has already been written on the topic, but more because there really should be no debate in the first place.

Don't think Alex Ovechkin should be a candidate for League MVP if the Caps fail to make the playoffs? Sorry, Charlie, but that horse left the corral (most recently) two decades ago when Mario Lemieux won his first Hart and his Pens hit the links after the last day of the regular season.

But was Mario's 1987-88 season so otherworldly as to deserve special consideration? Sure. In fact, it was a lot like Ovie's 2007-08 season. Super Mario led the League in goals with 25% more than the second place finisher and in points with 13% more than the runner up. Ovechkin currently leads the League in goals with 21% more than the second-ranked player and has 5.7% more points than the NHL's second-leading point-getter. Lemieux had a plus-23 rating, Ovechkin has a plus-27 rating. Mario had 75% more goals than his nearest teammate, Ovechkin has 152% more. And so on and so forth (oh, and Ovechkin has already tied a 15-year-old mark for most goals ever in a single season by a left wing).

So with similar individual achievements, let's look to the teams. Mario's Pens finished dead last in the Patrick Division, ninth overall in the Wales Conference, missing the playoffs by two points. Ovechkin's Caps? Well, we'll see.

Point being, any conversation about how Ovechkin may not be worthy of Hart consideration had best begin with a repudiation of Mario's first Hart win and a call for him to surrender his ill-gotten award. At that point, perhaps there can be a debate. Until then, however, I'm fine sticking with precedence and not debating a question that has already been asked and answered.


Dave said...

Blame Barry Melrose and the mullet media for concocting this notion.

To quote Trent in Swingers, "[The Kings] are a bitch team."

The basic "M.V.P." question I ask myself is "What are the Caps without Ovechkin?" Replace "Caps" with any other team and "Ovechkin" with any other player in that sentence and it doesn't carry nearly as much weight.

grapejoos said...

Agreed dave. I think the only other player that even comes close in that question is the Devils and Brodeur.

But, on paper, other goalies are having similarly great years, and Brodeur was even better last year, so it's hard to really elevate him there.

I have a good feeling it's all going to become moot.

Oly_for_Olie said...

Ovechkin will always be the MVP to me, no matter how anyone votes this year or years to come.

I am fortunate enough to get the CBC here and I watched the NHL draft a few years ago when Washington drafted Backstrom. It wasn't GMGM who announced the pick, it was Alex. He was the only player there representing his team. Later, instead of hiding out or heading for the hotel, he walked around the arena, greeting people and signing autographs. Kids were flocking to him and staring at him like this was the highlight of their life.

I will always remember that draft and I feel proud to have someone with that much class representing the Caps.

Scott said...

So, that game was awesome last night. Just in case you forgot

Gary said...

Only the stodgiest media curmudgeons (yeah, that's redundant) would deride Ovechkin's achievements this season. Change makes people uncomfortable, especially old people.

I think these hockey media "pundits" who propose that Ovechkin is automatically excluded from Hart trophy consideration if the Caps don't make the playoffs are genuinely afraid of the "new NHL", and Alex's role in it.

Just as with the Sunday morning political jawbone shows--more times than not--it's the old bastards (with experience and K-Street cred!) who scoff.


~Mark said...

With the Caps realistic worst-case scenario being that they miss the playoffs but are tied with Carolina in points, it's gonna be a real hard sell for the "MVP must make the playoffs" crowd. I mean, in a conference where the point difference between the first place and 9th place team is 10 points, it's even more difficult to imagine that argument!

Debcapsfan said...

Um, we're not. Two Pens fans make a debate?
Everyone agrees with you.
But seeing all the facts laid out is nice.

kubiak said...

There's no debate in my mind as to who should be the MVP. Ovechkin is not only one of the most talented players I've seen but he's playing like it too. He's the best player in the league this year hands down, and he's the most valuable player to his team by far. He's a rare talent to say the least, and I think he's probably going to be the best player in the league for years and years to come.

(I'm a Canes fan, btw, so I've seen him play quite a bit this year.)

James Mirtle said...

Good post. I'm still undecided on Ovechkin, Lidstrom or Iginla, but the Alex decision won't change based on if they make the playoffs or not.

grapejoos said...

With all due respect for Iginla (and I have plenty), if the playoff issue isn't a factor, how can one justify saying Iginla might be worthy of the Hart over Ovechkin if Ovechkin has scored 14 more goals (and 16 more points)?

I know Iginla is a leader, fights guys on occasion, etc., but it's not like Ovechkin isn't the engine that drives the Caps. He's a deserving finalist. But I'm sure Iginla would find it bittersweet, if he won this year, knowing that Ovechkin won the Ross and Richard, just like Iginla did when he was (wrongly) passed over for Theodore.