We're in the run-up for the end of season awards, voted on by that noble and storied institution, the hockey media. Which means the internet is in the middle of a firefight between thought-piece gunslingers making their case for why some player should or should not be the clear winner of the Hart, Vezina, Calder, Norris, or Selke trophy. And, as is usually the case in a firefight, innocent people are most likely to get shot in the crossfire.
Your favorite player does not deserve a Major Award
Sorry, man. I love Brent Burns, who has turned into one hell of a defenseman. I think Thornton's ageless production and ability to drive play should be appreciated by more people. Neither is going to win one of these things. Thornton only won his Hart because it was a great story: get dumped by Boston in December but then win the scoring race by a bazillion points, making everyone (temporarily at least) fall in love with Jonathan Cheechoo and his ridiculous goal celebrations.
And that's why I hate these awards so damn much, and cringe at every single echo chamber piece on the various fan blogs arguing for or against certain players. Wading through the biases that pile up when voting for these things is exhausting. For example, here's @DownGoesBrown on why Drew Doughty came in a close-second to Erik Karlsson's Norris win in 2014-15 despite getting more first-place votes:
Was this a case of that famed East Coast bias we hear so much about? Maybe, although it’s hard to imagine that many voters were unfamiliar with Doughty’s work after the 2014 playoffs.
You catch that? Brown is saying, "this west-coast defenseman should have been able to overcome any east-coast bias, and in fact should have gotten extra consideration, for an award for his play in the regular season because the year before he had an outstanding post-season." If that is true, that is the definition of east-coast bias, plus the stupidity of giving a regular season award based on post-season play from a different year. A player like Oliver Ekman-Larson might be the best overall defenseman in the Western Conference, but will likely never get the exposure of a deep playoff run in order to counteract him a) playing for the Coyotes and b) playing half his games after most east-coast hockey writers have turned in their stories and are heading out for post-game drinks.
A more subtle player like Marc-Eduard Vlasic is NEVER going to overcome this, even if the Sharks ever make it to the Finals. Brent Burns is NEVER going to overcome this, because the media is never going to watch enough games to be able to build the narrative of him improving his defense enough to counteract his offense-first game, like they have for Karlsson. Anze Kopitar should be a perennial Selke candidate, like Datsyuk and Zetterberg were and Toews currently is. Thornton probably should be considered too, but never will be. And that's ok, because these awards are actually about something else.
These awards are actually about the hockey media congratulating itself on its importance. Every single think piece about Hart candidates, and "snub" article about the Vezina, and list of top Norris candidates is the media talking to the media about how the media does things. The players are just the means to that end. Which is not to say that players shouldn't be celebrated, or that the best players never win, it's just that it is incidental. A hockey writer criticizing the final Calder ballots is the equivalent of an insufferable music snob talking about which bands are underrated and overrated.
Blues @ Sharks
7:30 PM Pacific
Prediction: These motherfuckers? God, I hope the Sharks pound them into the earth.