Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dark Blue Jacket's PHBA Ballot

Some of you may have heard about the creation of the PHBA, or the Professional Hockey Bloggers Association.  This was created by one of the savants over at The Royal Half, of which this blog has an awkward kinship.  We like to think the Kings and CBJ twitter accounts are just copying us.  Happy Besties Day, TRH.  Honestly, thanks to The Royal Half for putting this together. This was no small undertaking and it turned out really well.

As the invitation email explained, the PHBA was created to give hockey bloggers across the country a voice and to see how our results stacked up against the actual hockey writers.  You know, the heralded professional hockey writers, who are either blathering about some super hero movie or are reminiscing about the Leafs 1967 Cup run.  Those same folks who sometimes nominate Crosby for the Vezina and Chara for the Selke, but I digress.  The purpose of this post is to make my votes public and explain them to you the readers.

Gallos and Tom happily appointed the task to me which I eagerly accepted. 

Hart Memorial Trophy: "Player to be judged as most valuable to his team" 

Where is the outrage brigade bleating loudly about the usage of the word "His???"  Most Valuable?  Anyways here were my votes:

1st: Ryan Getzlaf
2nd: Sidney Crosby
3rd: Claude Giroux
4th: Phil Kessel
5th: Gustav Nyquist

It was a toss up between Crosby and Getzlaf for me.  Crosby gets to play in the East, and Getzlaf in the West.  We can't all get to play the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Sabres.  I eyeballed the advanced stats, watched some film, and saw Getzlaf doing a few more things that Crosby didn't this year.  I am one of four bloggers that didn't vote Crosby first place.  Meh. Habs blog giving Price a 1st place vote, LOLZ...

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy : "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability"  Colloquially referred to as "A statistically relevant forward who is not a total douche." 

1st: Ryan O'reilly
2nd: Martin St Louis
3rd: Frans Nielsen
4th: Tyler Seguin
5th: Pavel Datsyuk

Ok, O'reilly was the clear favorite here.  The little engine that could on a surprise team coached by the mentally stable Patrick Roy.  Strictly on statistical merit, Frans Nielsen should be second.  For some odd reason I didn't let St Louis theatrics after the Olympic snub influence my vote, but it should have.  I almost vomited voting Seguin in the top 5.

George Vezina Memorial Trophy: ""adjudged to be the best (goaltender) at this position." Whatever, this award is a popularity contest for goalies with low stats.   The PHBA voting was closer than I thought it would be.  And really, one has to consider the team playing in front of the goaltender to truly understand their worth. And now I will contradict myself...

1st: Tukka Rask
2nd: Ben Bishop
3rd: Ryan Miller
4th: Semyon Varlamov
5th: Sergei Bobrovsky

So, yeah, Rask gets the benefit of playing behind a Norris Trophy Finalist, a Selke Trophy finalist, and a solid rookie defensemen.  It's hard to argue with his stats though.  It would take a good bit of convincing to get me to agree that Tim Thomas has these same numbers in the Bruins net.  Ben Bishop, if you read the Lightning's Eulogy on Puck Daddy, you'll understand why I voted him second.  Dear God, Ryan Miller played like 70% of the season with this season's Buffalo Sabres and didn't have stats that looked a back-up goalie from the mid-80's.  He deserves a Purple Heart if anything, but was largely "meh" after being set free in St Louis.  Varlamov is an ugly man and my vote for Bobrovsky was consistent with my colleagues.  No homerism there.

The Frank J Selke Trophy: "The forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game."  Some years this award goes to the most outstanding forward who didn't win the MVP award.  Then it used to go to the forward who pwned everybody in the faceoff circle and then beat you into a pulp in the corner.  Now it's an advanced stat lisp-fest of an award.

1st: Patrice Beregon
2nd: David Backes
3rd: Jonathan Toews
4th: Anze Kopitar
5th: Brad Marchand

Not much explaining here, except maybe for Backes.  He's the closest thing to Rod Brind'Amour that today's NHL has, minus Eric Lindros banging his wife. It's possible I voted with my heart there. Advanced stats about Dzone starts, possession, and other things that elicit a stroking motion dictated my 4th and 5th place votes.  Seriously, you could put like two other Bruins forwards in here too.

Calder Trophy: "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League."  Or as I like to put it, a high draft pick with almost no buyer's remorse.

1st: Nathan McKinnon
2nd: Torey Krug
3rd: Ondrej Palat
4th: Olli Matta
5th: Thomas Hertl

With Hertl going down with an injury, Nathan McKinnon was the clear statistical choice here.  Torey Krug got my second place vote playing well in a position that often gets ignored for Calder consideration.  Ondrej Palat was likely a more popular choice for second play.  Olli Maata got a 4th place because my computer crashed and I couldn't read my own hand writing.  Shoulda been Tyler Johnson.  Thomas Hertl got a 5th place vote because when he played, he was very proficient in his first year of competition.

Chuck Norris Trophy   "defence player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position" Clearly this description is less sexist than the Hart Trophy.  Annually awarded to the best non-pylon defensemen who scores a lot of points.  Admittedly, my computer crashed as I was filling this out.  I was angry, hadn't researched beyond stats, and had to fill this whole ballot out again. I accidentally read from my 'research order' and not voting order list.

1st: Duncan Keith
2nd: Ryan Suter (read Shea Weber)
3rd: Alex Pietrangelo
4th: Victor Hedman
5th: Zdeno Chara

Again, admitting the gaffe in filling out the ballot at this point affects the voting, but at least illustrates I was researching the right candidates. Voting should have gone Keith-Weber-Pietrangelo-Chara-Giordano.  I don't know who voted over at The Cannon, but seriously boys?  Wiz got a fourth place vote?  Seriously guys, "All-round ability"
Jack Adams Award  ""adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success." It's funny, this award usually has more controversy over who should be a finalist and seldom who should have won it. 

1st: Patrick Roy
2nd: Craig Berube
3rd: Mike Babcock
4th: Ken Hitchcock
5th: Todd Richards

Roy was an obvious, but not a satisfying vote.  The Avalanche is a team of players who want to win, and clearly Patrick Roy was a player that wanted to win.  Just a few games into this season, I thought Roy would turn into a sideshow distraction, but as I understand it, long time friends of Mr Roy phoned him to say the WWE antics wouldn't cut it in the NHL.  Roy's desire to win at any cost has rubbed off on his players.  Berube inherited a complete Charlie Foxtrot and did well with what he was given.  Babcock again willed the Wings to win in the much more fleet afoot Eastern conference.  Hitch had the Blues ready to rock early in the season, and Coach Richards has the right temperament for a young CBJ team mixed with underachieving veteran players.

So there you have it.  My picks for the 2013-2014 NHL awards as a proud member of the PHBA.  I hope to retain this distinguished honor for years to come.  Again, Thanks to The Royal Half for putting this together.  This was no small undertaking and it turned out really well.  I enjoyed being a part of it.

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