A recent story on the NHL.com website debated the merits of four candidates for this year’s Most Valuable Player award. It should have been filed under ‘NHL humour.’
It’s funny, because there’s about as much debate about this year’s Hart Trophy winner as there is over which horizon the sun will rise tomorrow morning. To say there will be a competition for the Hart is hilarious, because Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers ended the debate about two months ago, and has added to his resume in the final month of the season.
Undoubtedly the NHL’s best player, McDavid will win the scoring title by a massive total — a near-Gretzkyan 20 points or more. Auston Matthews of Toronto finished nearly 45 points behind. Take the man known in Edmonton as Connor McJesus out of the Oilers’ lineup and coach Dave Tippett is steering a ship that might not even be a playoff team. But with McDavid in the lineup, the Oilers are a Stanley Cup contender.
Hometown favouritism will give Matthews a few Hart votes, but those voters shouldn’t be able to sleep at night, because they’ll know in their Hart of Harts that the vote should be unanimous. Matthews is the league’s leading goal-scorer, with 41, but when it comes to dominating games, and being ‘most valuable’ to his team, this competition is lopsidedly in favour of McDavid and should be as one-sided as Justin Trudeau running for most popular politician in Alberta.
The NHL.com story also mentioned centre Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay as other contenders, but there are always three finalists for the award and … well, the story had to be filled out.
It doesn’t take a hockey genius to recognize McDavid’s talent. He is the fastest skater in the league and can do magical things with the puck at that break-neck speed. He has made more than a few defensemen in the league a) look foolish; b) have McDavid-related nightmares; and c) consider early retirement.
Matthews has a strong team around him, and the Leafs are favoured to win the North Division of the NHL this year, but as far as individual achievement and ‘most valuable’ is concerned, the competition has been long over.
- Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “White Sox fans consume the most beers among their MLB counterparts — 4.2 per nine innings, at a cost of $46 — according to the results of a NJOnlineGambling.com survey of 2,631 fans, with Braves fans (4.0) coming in second. Phillies fans consume the fewest (2.4), further proof it’s tough to swig a beer and utter an insult at the same time.”
- Patti Dawn Swansson on Twitter: “Tim Tebow was a washout as an NFL QB, he was a washout at baseball, now he wants to reinvent himself as a washout tight end with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Little wonder he has a squeaky-clean image.”
- RJ Currie again: “The owners of Stonehenge were seeking a general manager, one experienced in working with ancient artifacts. They asked permission to speak to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.”
- Jack Finarelli of SportsCurmudgeon.com, on proposals to allow even more instant-replay reviews in college basketball: “We need this as much as Olympic swimming events need lifeguards.”
- Steve Simmons of Sunmedia: “How often has this been true? There are three Canadian men in the Top 20 of the ATP tour — Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic and Felix Auger-Aliassime — and no Americans in the Top 30.”
- Patti Dawn Swansson again, on Twitter: “The main difference between Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit and trainer Bob Baffert? The horse has the good sense to shut the hell up.”
- Comedy writer Eric Stangel, on Twitter: "Starting to think if I trained with Bob Baffert I’d have a decent shot to win the Kentucky Derby.”
- Toronto Blue Jays twitter feed, featuring a video of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., belting a home run: “VLADIOS!”
- Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Colin Kaepernick still unable to find employment in the NFL: “Good lord. Spouse-beaters, serial druggies, team cancers, dog killers — all are welcome in the NFL! But if you quietly take a knee, God will wreak vengeance on your team!”
- Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “A video shows a San Diego Padres fan knocking out a Colorado Rockies fan with one punch. The Rockies fan tried to defend himself, but as the Rockies are 13-24, he swung three times and missed.”
- Dwight Perry again “Waiting for your winning Derby horse’s postrace drug results: The Most Gruelling Eight Days in Sports.”
- Blogger Chad Picasner, after Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer complained his new team isn’t winning enough: “You’d think that $34 million a year he makes would ease some of the pain.”
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EDITOR''S NOTE: This column was written before the start of the NHL playoffs.