Hockey, Playoffs, Sports

Does Patrick Kane deserve the Conn Smythe Trophy?

So, earlier in this final, I had a post ready to go about the Bruins and the Leafs and how the Bruins’ success meant nothing to the Leafs despite what most Leafs fans on Facebook seem to believe. I had to delete the post this morning and I must say that it was actually a pretty happy moment. Despite wanting to be objective about this final, there was a strong part of myself that wanted to see the Bruins lose. Especially in the fashion they did.

Now on to other things. Some of you know my general dislike of awarding “Most Valuable” anythings to wingers. So, despite Kane’s offensive performance, I wonder, “did he deserve it?”

The following Blackhawks players are listed by total minutes played in the playoffs:

  • Crawford: 16-7, 1 SO, .932 save %age, 1.84 GAA
  • Keith: 27:37 ATOI; 2G, 11A for 13P in 22 games, +10
  • Hjalmarsson: 23:15 ATOI; 0G, 5A for 5P in 23 games, +10
  • Seabrook: 23:05 ATOI; 1G, 4A for 5P in 23 games, -1
  • Oduya: 22:45 ATOI; 3G, 5A for 8P in 23 games, +12
  • Toews: 3G, 11A for 14P in 23 games, +9, 53.1% face-offs
  • Kane: 9G, 10A for 19P in 23 games, +7

The Blackhawks above are those who played at least 450 minutes in the playoffs this season. (Yes, it’s arbitrary, but I have to stop somewhere.) As an aside: look how healthy this team was. Wow.

And just so we’re not forgetting anybody: Rask: 14W-8L, 3 SO, .940 save %age, 1.88 GAA

Crawford may have bested Rask in the finals but on the whole I think Rask was more important to the success of his team than Crawford. (My reasoning: Rask has a higher save percentage and “stole” more games.) That alone would suggest that Crawford is not an ideal Conny Smythe candidate.

But Crawford’s numbers do compare favourably with the last goalies to win the award: Thomas in ’11 and Giguere in ’03 only had slightly better numbers and Crawford has miles better numbers than Ward did in ’06. But Crawford played for a more well-rounded team than any of those goalies and so, even though the goalie is always the Most Valuable Player on a winning team, I think we should look elsewhere for the award.

Even though he missed a game, Keith still played nearly 70 more minutes than any other Blackhawk skater – i.e. about three games worth. That’s a sizeable argument there. At this point I think we all know what Keith brings, even when he doesn’t score a tone.

But Keith was suspended for a game and, personally, I have a very hard time giving the award to someone who got suspended, even if it was for one game. Suspension does not equate “most valuable” in my mind.

The other defensemen were clearly far less essential to the Hawks this season. The rest of the top 4 all played about the same amount of time and contributed about the same amount of offense. Picking one of these guys would be like splitting hairs.

Despite claims about Toews’ ineffectiveness due to lack of scoring he still managed to be 5th on the team and, far more importantly, such a claim completely ignores the fact that he is one of the best defensive centres in the league. However, Toews was not exactly dominant on face-offs in the playoffs this season and all of us who watched him know he made some bad decisions out of frustration.

And this leaves us with Kane: he led the team in offense, played more than any forward outside of Toews and came up big when it mattered. Though I do not like awarding wingers “value” awards, I feel like the choice is justified only because Crawford, Keith and Toews didn’t make clear enough cases for themselves.

So this year the NHL got it right.

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