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Puck Daddy Countdown: Voter transparency and the Hart race

Nathan MacKinnon deserves to win the Hart by a landslide. (Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

6. The MVP debate

Hockey Twitter, already a cesspool of the dumbest crybaby opinions in the entire sports universe, has been very bad lately.

The big hullaballoo revolves around what actually constitutes value and if it’s fair for guys on non-playoff teams to even be considered for the award. Of course this is the kind of argument that, uhh, Traditional Voters will slice as thin as humanly possible so that the guys who might otherwise inhibit their preferred picks from winning can be excluded from the voting, Morally Speaking.

The playoffs-as-a-qualifier argument is, of course, nonsense and not worth addressing directly. If you dragged some sorry-ass team kicking and screaming within three or four points of the playoffs in a league where more than half the teams make it, that is just as valuable as another guy dragging a slightly less-sorry-ass team two points over the line.

Like, who cares? Frankly if you’re finishing eighth in the West or whatever you should probably be trying to tank just as hard as a team finishing 10th.

The reason all this comes up, of course, is that Connor McDavid is getting a lot of (deserved) attention for the Hart because he’s probably going to clear 100 points despite having to lug Drake Caggiula up and down the ice for a good chunk of the season. It’s an impressive accomplishment and it’s probably another solid indicator that he’s the best player in the world. But his value-based case is not as good as that of other candidates, most notably Nathan MacKinnon’s, who’s scoring at a pace competitive with some of the best seasons in the shootout era.

Put another way: As many points and more goals than McDavid in eight fewer games. The fact that Taylor Hall is in the conversation is very nice for Taylor Hall, and certainly he’s the reason the Devils are likely to make the playoffs, but he’s 12 points back of MacKinnon with more games played.

Likewise, MacKinnon is four points back of Nikita Kucherov in six fewer games played, and I was a big Kucherov guy for awhile there.

I honestly don’t know what we’re talking about if MacKinnon isn’t the slam-dunk No. 1. Anyone who says someone other than MacKinnon is the MVP is trying to galaxy-brain their way into being a true Hockey Genioux.

5. GM meetings

I love this sport, man.

Everyone acknowledges a huge laundry list of issues with this sport is a real problem in terms of determining outcomes, making the sport entertaining to watch, and so on. And every year a bunch of old guys gather at some sunny resort and say, “Well, it would be better for our job security if none of this changed,” so nothing changes.

The illiberal attitude toward making the sport better is understandable because this is, again, about keeping them in their seven-figure jobs as long as possible. But also, it’s pretty clearly a conflict of interests and something the league should prevent from happening. Let GMs weigh in? Sure. Let them be gatekeepers of rule changes? Absolutely not.

Case in point: The offside rule. Everyone hates it and acknowledges it needs to change. Everyone, that is, except the 31 GMs of the league, who voted overwhelmingly not to change a single word of it. So that rule just isn’t going to change. Pretty cool!

4. ESPN lists

Folks, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it turns out the popular sports entity known as the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network may not like hockey quite as much as hockey fans think it perhaps should!

They put out a very bad list of the 20 most dominant athletes of the last 20 years. This list had Serena Williams 12th, which is insane because she’s probably the best and winningest athlete to come along in a lot more than 20 damn years.

Hockey fans’ real problem with the list, though, was very Please Like My Sport. There wasn’t a hockey player in the top 20. This can be explained simply enough: The absolute and very best hockey players alive are widely considered to be forwards, and the heaviest-used forwards in the sport might play 21 out of the game’s 60 (or more) minutes.

Is Sid Crosby the most dominant player in hockey over the last two decades? Probably. He plays less than 21 minutes a night. No other forward can really enter the conversation beside, I don’t know, Joe Thornton? Maybe Alex Ovechkin?

If you want to make an argument for Nick Lidstrom, who played 27 minutes a night and is the second-best defenseman of all time, I have time for it. If you want to do the same for Henrik Lundqvist, I mean, you’re stretching it a bit but maybe.

Anyway, who cares? It’s a list from a thing you already pathologically hate. Take it easy!

3. Pre-postmortems

Nice to see a lot of people around the league looking at teams that are obviously and deeply flawed and saying, “Wow, gotta fix this team!”

I’m talking, mostly, about Calgary I guess, because the Flames are about to miss the playoffs and everyone in the media there is, weirdly, assessing the team’s problems very accurately. This is the kind of thing that almost never happens because you typically have at least one local media guy stanning for them. Not the Flames, which kinda indicates to me that the coach and maybe GM are gonna get turfed, because this is a very team-friendly local media.

Similar efforts are underway in other cities like Vancouver and Ottawa, but the media is usually a little more willing there to say, “Wow this team sucks.” (Of course, this also brings to mind the whole #MelnykOut thing, which is Funny To Me because it’s people feeling like a website is going to shame one of the more shameless oligarchs in the league into doing something he absolutely has no incentive to do.)

When everyone is on the same page with stuff like this, that’s good for the team and fans alike.

2. Transparency

The PHWA voted last week to un-anonymize their awards ballots, bringing more clarity to a frustrating and very dumb process. A few dozen PHWA voters voted against the decision, and several dozen more abstained (some for perfectly good reasons).

Those who oppose the effort to publish all awards votes said they didn’t want to get mean emails from crybaby fanboys and I get that. You should see my inbox every time the Power Feelings get published. But the argument against obfuscation is a simple one: A handful (or three) of nitwits have screwed up the voting so many times in recent years that it’s simply ridiculous to keep covering for them as a group.

Moreover, it is for-sure going to happen that people will scroll through the awards voting to find out who put, like Cody Ceci or someone, fifth on their Norris ballots and use that information in bad faith. That’s obvious. But also, I’ve always said, if you don’t want people to criticize your bad takes, make sure your takes aren’t bad. It’s not a difficult concept that fans expect voters to know what the hell they’re talking about.

And if they don’t want the scrutiny, they should abdicate their voting power. Tough but fair.

1. The Predators AND Bruins at the same time !!!!

I wouldn’t normally give the arguments mutants who see fit to criticize the Power Feelings every week the time of day, but in this case I must make an exception.

This week I very “”””controversially”””” put the Predators second behind the Bruins, and not first. Preds fans are steamed, as though I haven’t been saying all season that they’re awesome, even when their record didn’t necessarily reflect that.

To be perfectly honest I think the Bruins and Predators are both very good! And maybe the fact that literally everyone in the Bruins’ top-six forwards and top-three defenders has missed at least a few games, and often many more than that, in the past month and they still won 9 of 14 is a good indicator that they’re incredibly elite. Nashville is right there with them but has had the benefit of almost everyone being healthy for the last little while here.

Am I just a Bruins fanboy? Look at everything I wrote about them before this season. You’ll find the answers you seek. Do I hate the Predators? Read anything I’ve written about them in the past three years.

It’s almost like I don’t have favorite teams and don’t care if anyone goes 82-0 or 0-82. Pretty wild!

(Not ranked this week: The Vezina debate.

Here’s something that will make Preds fans love me again: Any GM who doesn’t vote Pekka Rinne for the Vezina is an idiot. There I said it!!!!!)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)