Three's A Crowd: Toews, Kane & The Hart

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Every season awards are voted upon and given out to amazing players throughout the NHL. There are very few that do not generate heated debate. One such award that seemed impervious to debate last season was Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for exemplifying perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.* Aside from Harding's very deserving win, seemingly every other award that was decided by voting had some sort of controversy attached to it. Year in and year out, most of the awards are hotly debated on the basis of who the nominees are and who eventually wins, although technically, the nominees are just the top vote-getters anyway. The Hart Memorial Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

The Hart Memorial Trophy is an award to honor the player deemed most important to his team during the regular season. This season, many members of the media and fans have been tossing about the names of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as potential winners of the award. While both players are amazing and are having great seasons, winning the Hart is not for them. Simply by having two players on the same team who are in the running for this award negates their claim to it. That is not to say I do not think they are important to the team, just the opposite. They are indispensible to the success of the Blackhawks. Looking over the recent history of Hart winners, a pattern emerges and it is not one fan should want the Blackhawks to fit into, because for the most part, winning the Hart is for losers.

YEAR

WINNER

TEAM

PLAYOFF RESULTS

2012-13

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

LOST 1ST ROUND

2011-12

Evgeni Malkin

PIT

LOST 1ST ROUND

2010-11

Corey Perry

ANA

LOST 1ST ROUND

2009-10

Henrik Sedin

VAN

LOST 2ND ROUND

2008-09

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

LOST 2ND ROUND

2007-08

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

LOST 1ST ROUND

2006-07

Sidney Crosby

PIT

LOST 1ST ROUND

2005-06

Joe Thornton

BOS/SJS

LOST 2ND ROUND

2003-04

Martin St. Louis

TBL

STANLEY CUP WINNER

2002-03

Peter Forsberg

COL

LOST 1ST ROUND

2001-02

Jose Theordore

MTL

LOST 2ND ROUND

2000-01

Joe Sakic

COL

STANLEY CUP WINNER

1999-2000

Chris Pronger

STL

LOST 1ST ROUND

1998-99

Jaromir Jagr

PIT

LOST 2ND ROUND

1997-98

Dominik Hasek

BUF

LOST 3RD ROUND

1996-97

Dominik Hasek

BUF

LOST 2ND ROUND

1995-96

Mario Lemieux

PIT

LOST 3RD ROUND

1994-95

Eric Lindros

PHI

LOST 3RD ROUND

1993-94

Sergei Fedorov

DET

LOST 1ST ROUND

1992-93

Mario Lemieux

PIT

LOST 2ND ROUND

1991-92

Mark Messier

NYR

LOST 2ND ROUND

1990-91

Brett Hull

STL

LOST 2ND ROUND

Perhaps "losers" was too strong a term to use, but as is evident from the information above, only two Hart winners have also won the Stanley Cup since the 1990-91 season. Other than the two Cup winners during this time, none of the other winners' teams even made the Stanley Cup Final. In hockey, roster depth wins championships far more often than one special player leads the team to the Cup. This is likely the largest factor in the lack of Cup winners on the list of Hart recipients.

Many of the people voting for this award were probably not voting for it before this time and it is obvious that attitudes toward what the Hart Memorial Trophy really means have changed. Another thing that has changed is that this is no longer the Wayne Gretzky Era. He won the Hart nine times from 1979-80 to 1988-89.

If the Blackhawks were a team with just Toews or Kane, then a case could most certainly be made for either of them to win. There are likely many writers who will still vote for both of them so that they end up on the ballot. Actually winning, if the modern attitude toward the Hart holds true, will be much harder for either of them to accomplish.

If either Toews or Kane were to win the Hart, they would join elite company from the Blackhawks past.

1945-46

Max Bentley

1953-54

Al Rollins

1964-65

Bobby Hull

1965-66

Bobby Hull

1966-67

Stan Mikita

1967-68

Stan Mikita

The voting is ongoing and soon we will know If Toews and Kane are included among the Hart nominees. If they are not, or if they do not win, there will likely be some anger from the fans, but I think we would be hard pressed to find a fan who would rather see Toews or Kane hoist the Hart instead of the Stanley Cup.

*Chicago Blackhawks who have won the Masterton Trophy include Pit Martin in 1970 and Bryan Berard in 2004.

**data used herein was collected from www.nhl.com

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