The player so nice they named him twice

Taylor Hall was not named to one of the two NHL All-Star teams when they were announced earlier today. It’s easy to understand, given that the two players named were Chris Kunitz and Alexander Ovechkin, and that’s pretty stiff competition.

Or at least, that would be easy to understand, except that Alex Ovechkin was also a first-team all-star at right wing.

You Can’t Make This Up

The Professional Hockey Writers Association has already taken some heat over their management of various NHL awards, thanks to baffling voting decisions and an opaque process. And while the decision-making has occasionally been laughable, they’ve never been so painfully stupid as to name the same player at different positions to both teams.

And painfully stupid it was. 

Ovechkin played right wing all season. This is not only something that, in The Hockey News‘ Ken Campbeel’s words "one iota of research would have revealed," but it’s something the PHWA actually emailed its membership about. All of the voters on NHL awards got an email, telling them that Ovechkin had played right wing, and somehow enough of them disregarded it to make Ovechkin the consensus choice as the second-best left wing in the NHL.

A Broken Process

There is no way to defend this. There have been a few tepid suggestions that perhaps right and left wing should be abolished, and voters should just choose wingers, and while that would prevent such an astonishing debacle from happening again (at least, until somebody else gets votes at centre and wing, and we need to abolish "centre" as a distinct position as well) it doesn’t solve the basic, underlying problem.

What’s the basic, underlying problem? Rank incompetence by the rank and file of the PHWA, incompetence that gets hidden behind closed doors because the voting process isn’t exposed to the public eye.

Voting for Ovechkin as a left wing requires a basic ignorance of the NHL game. I barely watched the Eastern Conference this year, but I was fully aware of Ovechkin playing right wing – without needing an email from the PHWA – because it was a major story in the Capitals season. Ovechkin’s move to right wing was highly controversial, and tied directly to Adam Oates’ work as a rookie head coach. 

TSN’s Bob McKenzie put it this way:

That’s the problem. We can sweep this under the rug and eliminate left/right wing differentiation. But the problem is that there is at least a sizable minority – big enough to vote Ovechkin in at left wing (just over one-quarter of all PHWA voters, as it turns out) – voting on NHL Awards who have no business doing so. And there’s no way to know who, because the PHWA shields the incompetence of its worst members by hiding the voting process.

Sorry, Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall had an incredible season on a very poor team, and was a deserving choice for his first-ever All-Star nod. It didn’t happen, and he can thank the media. Also, seeing as he’s still eligible for entry-level bonuses, the possibility exists that this didn’t just cause irritation; it may also have cost him money.

Update: Fortunately for Hall, it didn’t.

Update 2: Or maybe it actually cost him $50,000.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    I would love to read an article from the “experts” that write on this site about the oilers cap situation(Hemsky traded, Horcoff bought out, elcs bonuses no longer apply to cap). The key component of the article – who they would target and what they would do as GM.

    Also think the comments section to this article would be epic.

    Just a suggestion, anyways always enjoy reading.

  • oilerjed

    How are these type professional writers and reporters being objective and unbiased… when …. they send in votes on players (for rookies for example) up to like… two weeks or so prior to the end of the season????, and… then …

    how can they act before the public also… with a supposed professionalism and objectiveness again… when they stupidly vote on the same player twice (Ovechkin) for an award for two differtent positions and two line-ups (one position of which Ovie did not play …to boot)???????

    So here goes…. With my Professional Fan Status Opinion…. I vote that Taylor Hall played super well enough on a poor team this year to rightfully secure the 2nd All Star team line-up …

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    PHWA is becoming a joke. I hope the they are as embarrassed as I think they should be.

    I just lost a little respect for Spec as a diligent professional.

    • Kodiak

      Spec was pretty pompous and indignant in his defense of Huberdeau winning the calder and suggested Yak was clearly not worthy of making the rookie team because of his lack of consistency and feasting on garbage time.

      Pointless game streaks this year: Hub 5, 5, 3, 3, 4. Yak 3, 4, 3, 3

      Goals to tie/take lead: Hub 6, Yak 8

      TOI/pt: Hub 26:12, Yak 22:32

      Pts vs playoff teams: Hub 3+5=8, Yak 10+9=19

      How Spector can defend the PHWA picking Huberdeau and slam Yak the way he did, especially after looking at these numbers really has rubbed me the wrong way and I’ve lost a ton of respect for him.

      • Jimmeh

        and he picked Andrew Ladd over Taylor Hall…

        Mark Spector ‏@SportsnetSpec 4h

        My All-Star votes: RW Martin St. Louis TBL, Patrick Kane CHI, Alex Ovechkin WSH. LW Chris Kunitz PIT, Andrew Ladd WPG, Taylor Hall EDM

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        Feasting on garbage time?

        Both Huberdeau and Yakupov faced exactly the 7th toughest opposition on their respective teams.

        Huberdeau, however, started 2/3 of his face-offs in the attacking zone. Where as Yak was roughly 50/50.

        And Huberdeau played 2:30 more per game.

        I used to like Spec. Now I’m becoming very critical of him.

  • Congrats to Hall for being up there after a terrific season. Anyone with a brain can see that he is the 2nd best LW in the entire NHL! When you see the names below him (who get way more media love outside of EDM than he does) it’s a major accomplishment!! This should be corrected soon and Hall will have his 2nd team allstar nod!

  • oilerjed

    Ya know…JW…I am one who reads as much reports and articles from reporters (and now bloggers too) as the next real fan does…but

    first Yakupov gets snubbed…not just once…but twice…by mainly the eastern reporters/pro writers…then, secondly, Taylor Hall has a breakout type yr, and he is not given credit enough neither…

    Now to find out that these same voters voted for Ovie in two positions…???

    Are the reporters or pro writers indulging into two much drinks…lol?….or are they prejudiced against the Oilers and several other western teams???

    I now really hope that Hall and Yak both come out smoking hot this coming season, along with Ebs and RNH, even J. Schultz… to prove they are just as elite if not more…