The Puck Stops Here

Duncan Keith As A Hart Trophy Candidate

When I look over the Hart Trophy voting (which can be seen here) I see some interesting things.  Sidney Crosby ran away with the award.  I do not know how he didn't win the award unanimously but nine of the 137 voters picked someone else.  Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Semyon Varlamov and Carey Price all received at least one first place vote.

The bggest confusion surrounding the Hart Trophy comes from a misapplication of its definition.  The Hart Trophy is given to the player most valuable to his team.  Some people interpret that as meaning the best player on a team that would otherwise be awful without him.  A hypothetical team made of one average NHL player and bunch of old ladies who cannot skate would have a clear Hart Trophy winner in that model.  The average NHL player would be the most valuable player to his team in that definition.

The best way to show the absurdity of this thinking is by analogy.  Imagine you have two boxes containing diamonds.  One box contains a \$10 million diamond and several others worth \$3 to \$5 million.  The other box contains a \$1 million diamond and some shards of glass and gravel.  Which diamond is the most valuable to its box?  It's clearly the \$10 million diamond.  Its value is \$10 million and that is more than any other diamond.  Do you really think the \$1 million diamond is worth more?

When we look at the Hart Trophy voting we see Sindey Crosby far ahead of anyone.  The point I would most argue with is there is no defenceman who finished above Duncan Keith and Keith finished 15th in the voting mentioned on only nine ballots.

There is a clear undervaluing of defencemen is obvious if none are in the top 14 vote-getters.  Since Duncan Keith won the Norris Trophy, he is clearly the most valuable defenceman.  If I had a ballot, I would have placed him second and that is higher than any actual voter. Keith dominated his position.  Yet he was overlooked.

There are two significant reasons for his being overlooked.  One is the misapplication of the Hart Trophy definition.  The Chicago Blackhawks have several good players including Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.  Thus Keith comes from a "box" with lots of valuable diamonds and some see that as less valuable than the one semi-valuable diamond in a box of otherwise worthless shards.  The other reason is a historic undervaluing of defencemen in Hart Trophy results.  Only three defencemen have ever won the award (Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr and Chris Pronger).  Defencemen do not post the same offensive numbers as forwards do and tend to get lost in many voters' minds.  Defencemen lack any really big numbers in their stat lines and that hurts their chances.

Is it possible that the 14 most valuable players in the 2013/14 season were not defencemen?  That is what the Hart Trophy voting says.  Duncan Keith is the best example of an overlooked defenceman in the Hart Trophy voting.  He should have had a much bigger share of the votes.  In fact only 12 voters put a defenceman in their top five votes for the Hart Trophy.  Keith received nine of them, Shea Weber received two and Ryan Suter got one vote.  Is that fair or logical?  Players like Jamie Benn or Ben Bishop got more Hart Trophy votes than all NHL defencemen combined.

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I don’t think you understand what “most valuable to his team” means at all.

Posted by Garth on 06/27/14 at 01:31 PM ET

The analogy doesn’t get tricky until you imagine a \$5 million crown with a \$1 million diamond as its centre piece and compare it to a \$1.5 million bag of diamonds with a \$1.1 million diamond in it.

Is the \$1.1 million diamond worth more because it has a bit more individual value, or is the \$1 million diamond worth more because the much more valuable crown isn’t complete without it?

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 06/27/14 at 01:31 PM ET

I’ve also long disliked the lack of praise for D come awards season, PuckStops, and I liked getting a look at your pretend-ballot.

But then I saw you giving no love to a D for the Calder. (I assume you mention Krug for solid PP work, 6g & 19pts, instead of his defense.)

Myself, I felt this was the season of outstanding rookie-D and since none of the rookie-forwards were lights out I think it should have gone to a D this year. (60pts ain’t lights out, 90-110pts is lights out.)

My pretend Calder ballot is almost all-D.

1st, Jacob Trouba
2nd, Hampus Lindholm
3rd, Martin Marincin
4th, Ondrej Palat

Posted by alwaysaurie on 06/27/14 at 01:57 PM ET

Keith wasn’t even in the top defensive pairing on his own team. Once again, please take a look as usage charts. thx.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 06/27/14 at 03:49 PM ET

Keith wasnâ€™t even in the top defensive pairing on his own team. Once again, please take a look as usage charts. thx.

That comment is utterly stupid.  What you intend to say is that Keith did not play against the toughest opposition on his team.  Because he has offensive skills other teams attempted to use their shutdown guys against him and thus he didn’t play against as tough an opposing offense as he might have (or as Hjalmarsson did).

Keith did win the Norris Trophy making him top defenceman in the NHL - that includes his team.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/27/14 at 05:35 PM ET

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The Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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