Alexander Ovechkin: Paper Hart

Nichushkin's style of play is very similar to Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin [Photo by Anna Armstrong]

[Photo by Anna Armstrong]

When the NHL awards were handed out last week, I agreed with pretty much all of the picks. Subban for the Norris, Bobrovsky for the Vezina, Toews for the Selke, the voters seemed to have done a great job. Then I read that Alexander Ovechkin won the Hart Trophy for MVP.

Alexander Ovechkin won WHAT?

Surely it must be a typo. I check another news source, “Alexander Ovechkin wins Hart”. Maybe, third time’s the charm, but again I read, “Alexander Ovechkin wins Hart” So, after checking other sources in my vain attempt to find anything that said otherwise, I finally relented and believed that Alexander Ovechkin did indeed win the Hart Trophy.

Did Ovechkin have a good year? Yes. Did he deserve to win the Hart Trophy? Absolutely not.

Sure, Ovechkin was the captain on a team that won the Southeast Division while putting up some pretty good stats, but stats alone don’t make an MVP. It helps, but you have to consider more than that. The Capitals were one of the worst teams in the NHL earlier in the season and Ovechkin carried a lot of the blame and deservedly so.

How can you be the NHL MVP, or even the team MVP when you play like that. When the Caps are down, Ovechkin has no fight in him whatsoever (as seen in the above video) and doesn’t like to play defense when necessary, like his lackluster “attempt” during a New York Ranger attack… in the playoffs!

That was, at the time, a one goal game. Had Ovechkin been playing like he should have, Derek Stepan might not get the puck easily past Braden Holtby, but we’ll never know.

Also, Washington played in a pretty bad Southeast Division. I equate the Washington Capitals to the San Diego Chargers in 2008, the Chargers were a bad team and they finished 8-8, but because they won their division, they make the playoffs. Meanwhile an 11-5 New England Patriots team misses the playoffs.

The Capitals are similar. Despite the Caps horrid start, the still make the playoffs because every other team in that division underachieved, except for the Winnipeg Jets. They only finished two points ahead of the eighth place New York Islanders. Ovechkin’s numbers were probably helped by the lackluster Southeast and made him look better than he really was.

What About Tavares, Even Crosby?

Despite being the team's leading scorer, Tavares will not be participating in the NHL All Star game this year (valorfaerie/Flickr)

John Tavares meant more for his team than Ovechkin did for the Capitals. (valorfaerie/Flickr)

Meanwhile on the aforementioned Islanders, a true Hart Trophy winner came about in the name of John Tavares. Tavares’ numbers weren’t as high as Ovechkin’s or even Sidney Crosby, but he meant more to his team than Ovechkin did to his.

Without Tavares’ production, I can safely say that the Islanders fail to make the playoffs and give the Pittsburgh Penguins a brief challenge. Yet, Tavares finshed third in balloting to Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, a major oversight by the Hart Trophy voters.

Tavares and Crosby were great from start to finish, unlike Ovechkin who finally woke up and start playing well in mid-March. The Hart Trophy should be based on total body of work and not by stats alone. So, basically Ovechkin got hot in the second half of an already half season because of the lockout. 24 games does not make an MVP and the voters should have seen this.

I’m not knocking Ovechkin’s talent, he is a very talented player and appears headed for the Hall of Fame upon the conclusion of his career, but if he plays like he cares sometimes then we wouldn’t have this discussion on whether or not he should have won the Hart or not.

Ovechkin may haves had the stats on paper, but his full body of work did not merit his Hart Trophy win. It just goes to show you that the NHL awards sloth and hot finishes (see: Corey Perry) rather than the hard working players in the league.

  • ranndino

    A ridiculous article by a hack writer who thinks his subjective opinion overrides facts. Ovie was the best player in the league during the regular season which is what Hart is awarded for. Yes, the Caps had a bad start while adjusting to Adam Oates’ new system, but once they caught fire they were unstoppable and Ovie was the biggest reason. The Hart is absolutely deserved. At least a lot more than your right to write a hockey column.

    Ovechkin does care and plays extremely hard, but hockey is a team sport. In the playoffs he tried his best hitting everything that moved, but the goals dried up in the 2nd round. It happens, but he could not be faulted for effort. You’d know that if your entire opinion of him wasn’t based on seeing 2 Caps games per season in addition to some Youtube highlights. And like many fans you really need to get it through your head that NHL awards are based on the regular season only. The decision on who wins is actually made before the playoffs get underway. That means the playoff performance is completely irrelevant. The only individual award for which it is relevant is the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP.