2) In our opinion the award SHOULD go to the player who has the most positive impact on a winning team! Therefore the Art Ross winner should NOT be automatically given a slot among the Hart Finalists. Simply being the league's leading scorer, although a tremendous feat, does NOT mean that player necessarily helped his team succeed. Much like a home run champ on a last place baseball team, its a great individual accomplishment, but unless it was accompanied by W's/team success it doesn't warrant Hart/MVP consideration.
3) Here is where it gets even more interesting/difficult. One of our frequent/regular contributors VLAD THE IMPALER. who almost always advocates/some say exaggerates the importance of goaltending, made a very interesting comment on a previous blog post. His assertion was: Since a team's goalie was the most important position (no argument from us there) the Hart/league MVP should almost always be a successful team's goalie. Show us a good team, probably with very few exceptions, that team has an outstanding goalie supporting them. How could anyone else be considered?
4) Its a compelling argument. We haven't seen too many goalies in recent years actually win the Hart Trophy. The last being Jose Theodore in 2002. Dominick Hasek won the award back to back in 97 and 98 backstopping his undermanned Sabres to the playoffs, and from there you have to go back to Jacques Plante in 1962! A couple of goalies won it before Plante, but in the 82 year history of the award, it has gone to a mere 6 goalies! Its difficult to imagine that so few of the players from the most important position weren't worthy.
5) For instance, Bobby Clarke, one of our least favourite folks in the league won 3 Harts in the early-mid 1970's. Not taking anything away from his ability. He was one of the better players of his day, BUT would the Flyers have won ANYTHING if not for Bernie Parent? We'd say not on your life. Yet Bernie, not once of those 3 instances was the one deemed 'most valuable'. Certainly in that instance/example we could see Vlad's point.
6) In today's game, with a premium on scoring, the difference between being a great/high seeded playoff team, and being a low seeded team/out of the playoffs is who you have in net. Ask the Coyotes. They have the same personnel/coaches as they did before they obtained Bryzgolov, but just the inclusion of a good/consistent goalie changed the Coyotes from a losing team to a playoff contender! Guess who their team MVP is? Therefore Vlad has convinced us that at the very least one, probably 2 goalies SHOULD be among the Hart finalists every year, and many MORE tenders should win the prestigious award!
7) With that in mind here is our current list of Hart Candidates: