Hockey fans around the league are debating which man should take home the Hart Trophy, the award given to the player judged to be the most influential for his team during the regular season. Depending on your interpretation of the award, odds are you're torn between several worthy candidates.
Which player would Wayne Gretzky pick if he was given the authority? According to a recent interview with Hockey Night in Canada radio, he'd hand the award to Alex Ovechkin.
Gretzky is pretty familiar with the Hart Trophy. During his career he won the award a record nine times. This included an unbelievable run where he secured the Hart in eight consecutive seasons. With that in mind, it's always interesting to see how he evaluates the best players in the NHL.
While he gives his endorsement to Ovechkin, he would completely understand if Chicago's Jonathan Toews took the Hart home.
The good folks over at Russian Machine Never Breaks have Gretzky's quotes in their entirety if you'd rather avoid listening to an entire radio show to hear them.
"Listen, first of all, had Crosby not been hurt, I think he would have been a unanimous choice. And he still may win the award. He was so remarkable in the games he played. I don’t think anyone’s going to question it if Jonathan Toews wins [the Hart]. He takes faceoffs, he kills penalties. On the power play he’s an instrumental leader for that hockey club. He’s sorta the heartbeat of that team. He does it in a classy way. He’s just a wonderful player. So he’s going to get a lot of votes.
From my side of things, I look at Alexander Ovechkin. You look at the Hart trophy and what it means. And it means what player could you take away from that team and they wouldn’t have the success they had. And I think that people forget that he had three coaches in a 12 month period and I think that’s difficult for any player — especially an offensive-minded player. He struggled without question the first 20 games. And I think the final 28 games he finally got his confidence back. I don’t think there’s any coincidence that they were below .500, then as soon as he’s able to play at the level he’s capable of, they became a different team. I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed if either Toews or Ovechkin wins. Those would be my two guys that I would vote for. If Columbus made the playoffs, obviously that goaltender deserved a lot more attention than he would get."
Some interesting insight from #99.
He falls into the camp that believes Crosby's injury and missed time should cost him the Hart. He also believes that what Toews does on the defensive side of the puck and in the faceoff circle could and should be recognized. Finally, Gretzky's argument is that the Capitals were a pretty dismal team while Ovechkin was struggling, but they found their form at the same time he started lighting the lamp. Finally, he mentions that the goaltender out in Columbus would deserve more attention if the Blue Jackets made the playoffs.
Poor Sergei Bobrobsky. No one remembers your name even you're mentioned in a discussion for the Hart Trophy.