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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Will McDavid win the Trifecta?

Tonight the NHL will unveil the Las Vegas Golden Knights roster, followed by an expected multitude of trades. The expansion draft has been a good off-season distraction, and while many will wait to see who the Knights select and trade, the NHL Players Awards will also be handed out.

It is fitting that on an evening when many of the NHL’s best players will be in attendance, they will be overshadowed by an expansion team and the fate of less skilled players. In my eyes the NHL is the only league where they punish the superstars. Their superstars need to “play through holding, obstruction, etc” to show their true value, while other leagues correctly enforce the rules where often the skilled players get the calls because lesser skilled players have to take a foul or penalty to keep up. But I digress.

This evening Connor McDavid will try to become the 11th player in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer), Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable to his team voted by PHWA) and the Ted Lindsay Trophy (Most Outstanding Player voted by NHLPA). He’s already won the Art Ross, and on Wednesday we’ll find out if one of the NHL’s brightest young stars will join an exclusive club.

I’m lucky enough to vote on the Hart Trophy, but I admit I prefer the wording for the Ted Lindsay. Most Outstanding player focuses on who was the best, not who was most valuable to their team. The latter is always hard to determine, because I find it is always a bit of a guess on how valuable they are, versus any of their teammates, to their team. In McDavid’s rookie season, he only played 48 games due a broken clavicle. The Oilers had a better record without him than with him, however, everyone who watched them play knew he was their best player.

The voting for the Hart and Ted Lindsay has decided on the same winner 29 of the 45 seasons both have been handed out.

Patrick Kane, Carey Price and Sidney Crosby won both the past three seasons. The lockout shortened 2012/2013 season saw Martin St. Louis win the Art Ross (17-43-60 in 48 games), Alex Ovechkin win the Hart (32-24-56 in 48 games) and Crosby win the Ted Lindsay (15-41-56 in 36 games). Crosby missed 25% of the season, which is why many voters didn’t have him as most valuable to his team, because the debate will always be: can you be valuable from the pressbox?

The voting for the Hart was extremely close, with Ovechkin gaining 1090 votes (60.89%) and Crosby 1058. St.Louis finished ninth in voting with only 20. John Tavares had 919 votes and Jonathan Toews picked up 886. It was very spread out. Unfortunately, the NHLPA doesn’t publish their voting results.

In 2011, Corey Perry won the Hart Trophy (50-48-98 in 82 GP), while Daniel Sedin won the Art Ross and Ted Lindsay (41-63-104 in 82 GP). Perry had 67 first place votes and 47 second place, while Sedin had 51 first place and 56 second place.

In 2010, Henrik Sedin won the Art Ross and Hart (29-83-112 in 82 GP), while Ovechkin won the Ted Lindsay (50-59-109 in 72 GP). The voting was close, with Sedin finishing with 894 votes, Ovechkin 834, Crosby 729 (51-58-109 in 81 GP), but Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov each picked up 13 first place votes, which spread out the voting. You will always have differing opinions when you have over 150 voters ranking their top-five.

The Lester Pearson Trophy, now named Ted Lindsay trophy, was first awarded in 1971. Phil Esposito won the inaugural award as well as the Art Ross, while his teammate Bobby Orr won the Hart Trophy. Esposito won the Hart in 1969 and 1974, while Orr won it in 1970, 1971 and 1972. Bobby Clarke won it in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Esposito and Orr are the only teammates to have won it five out of six seasons.

BAD VOTING

Mar 30, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; San Jose Sharks goalie (31) prepares to make a save on Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the first period at Rogers Place. Oilers won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve heard many suggest the Lindsay award means more because it is voted on by the players and not the the PHWA. I can understand that reasoning, but the wording of the awards are different, and even the NHLPA can get it wrong.

In 1981, Wayne Gretzky’s second season in the league, he set a new NHL scoring record with 55-109-164 in 80 games. Esposito had the previous high of 152 points set in 1971. Gretzky won the Hart Trophy, but the NHLPA voted Mike Liut as the league’s most outstanding player.

In 1986, Gretzky scored an amazing 215 points in 80 games. He had 163 assists. Mario Lemieux tallied 48-93-141 in 79 games. Gretzky won the Art Ross and the Hart, but the NHLPA voted Lemieux for the Pearson. Seriously. Gretzky had the greatest single-season in NHL history and the players voted for Lemieux? Gretzky had won four Pearson’s in a row and I wonder if players just wanted a change. Gretzky won it again in 1987 when he scored 183 points.

Players, media and fans all have a bias, and the players proved, especially in 1986, they don’t always choose the best player either. The only logical explanation is they were sick of Gretzky winning everything.

Will McDavid become the 11th player to win the Trifecta and join Patrick Kane (2016), Crosby (2015), Evgeni Malkin (2012), Ovechkin (2008), Martin St.Louis (2004), Jaromir Jagr (1999), Lemieux (1996, 1993, 1988), Wayne Gretzky (1987, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982), Guy Lafleur (1978, 1977) and Esposito (1971)?

It would be a great accomplishment, but with two different voting parties and two different definitions for the Hart and Ted Lindsay, it is difficult to predict how the PHWA and players viewed his season compared to Crosby.

PARTING SHOTS…

  • Gretzky won the Pearson/Lindsay four years in a row. Ovechkin and Guy Lafleur are are the only other players to win it three times. Ovechkin in 2008-2010 and Lafleur 1976-1978.
  • Teammates Stan Makita and Bobby Hull battled for the Art Ross and Hart Trophy for five years. Makita won the Art Ross in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968 and the Hart in 1967 and 1968. Hull won the Hart in 1965 and 1966 and the Art Ross in 1966. He also won the Art Ross in 1960 and 1962.
  • The most recent battle among teammates was Malkin and Crosby. Crosby won the Art Ross in 2007 and 2014, while Malking won it 2009 and 2012. Crosby won the Hart in 2007 and 2014 and Malkin took it home in 2012.
  • Between 1981-2001 only three players won the Art Ross. Gretzky won ten, Lemieux won six and Jagr won five. You can read all Art Ross winners here.
  • Since Gretzky won eight consecutive Hart trophies, 1980-1987, only two players have won it back-to-back. Dominik Hasek won it 1997 and 1998 and Ovechkin won it 2008 and 2009.
  • Winning consecutive Hart trophies was more common pre-Gretzky. Howie Morenz 1931-1932, Eddie Shore 1935-1936, Gordie Howe 1952-1953 and 1957-1958, Hull 1965-1966, Makita 1967-1968, Bobby Orr (three years) 1970-1972, Bobby Clarke 1975-1976 and Guy Lafleur 1977-1978.
  • Will McDavid win consecutive Art Ross trophies? Could he win three or more in a row? What about consecutive Hart trophies? The latter is much more difficult, but after scoring 100 points in his second NHL season he should have a good chance of skating away with back-to-back awards in either the Art Ross, Hart or Ted Lindsay.
  • The Nation is throwing a FREE Nation Appreciation Night presented by West Edmonton Mall on Friday at the Pint Downtown. Get all the details on the swag bags and giveaways here. 

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