Hart Trophy talk swirls around Hawks’ Jonathan Toews
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org March 15, 2011 11:32PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The Blackhawks know how valuable their captain is. They see Jonathan Toews making plays at both ends of the ice, scoring big goals and leading in the locker room.
So what do some others think about all the MVP talk Toews is generating and his chances of taking home the Hart Trophy?
“It’s not my decision,” winger Patrick Sharp said. “I’d have to take a look all across the league, but Jonathan has been playing great all season.”
Sharp is right. Toews has been consistently good all season, but it’s also up to the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to examine Toews’ credentials, which have dramatically improved in the second half of the season, and decide.
“It’s not really what matters to me, but it definitely is a compliment just to even have the slightest mention,” Toews said.
It has become more than just a “mention,” though.
Here’s a look at what some other hockey analysts and writers — most of whom vote on NHL awards — think of Toews’ chances to become the first Hawk to win the Hart since Stan Mikita in 1968:
Cam Cole, Vancouver Sun
Why he can: Every time I see him play, he carries that club. He’s just the total package, both ends of the ice, strong, smart, fearless, great passer, great shooter. Other than that, he doesn’t have much going for him.
Why he can’t: The Hawks’ first half was awful, and everyone got hurt by it statistically. And it would be such a great story for twin brothers to win back-to-back Harts, Daniel Sedin might get a lot of votes.
Craig Custance, The Sporting News
Why he can: With Sidney Crosby out, Toews has emerged as the game’s best young leader on and off the ice. His play has picked up during the most crucial stretch of the season and has been the main reason behind the push that transformed the Blackhawks from a borderline playoff team back to one of the league’s serious Stanley Cup contenders. If I was voting right now, he’s in my top three.
Why he can’t: There are a couple of factors that work against Toews. There’s always the inclination to give the award to the best player on one of the best teams, and the Blackhawks aren’t even the best in their division. There also appears to be an appetite to award one of the goalies, Tim Thomas or Carey Price, for their outstanding seasons.
Elliotte Friedman, CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada”
Why he can: The No. 1 reason Toews could win is the respect people have for him. [Nicklas] Lidstrom is probably the most respected player in the league with Crosby second. While I can’t say there’s a distinct third, Toews would be in that discussion. When you look at everything he has accomplished in such a short time, it isn’t a fluke. He competes; he cares; he’s all about the team. One GM said to me that if you’re going to bottom out and draft high, you better make certain you get guys like him. I’m also curious to see if teams with multiple candidates split their votes.
Why he can’t: Right now, there is no front-runner. That’s why I think who finishes where will determine the voting. Since the Blackhawks probably won’t catch Detroit, it hurts Toews’ chances. Daniel Sedin really deserves consideration with the Canucks 10 points clear of the field. That’s really impressive.
Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com
Why he can: Because he has been the driving force in the Blackhawks turning around their season in the second half. He has been huge and he has been clutch, especially when the Hawks’ season felt like it was on the line. Those are meaningful contributions, and that defines an MVP winner.
Why he can’t: Traditionally, if a forward wins the Hart, he’s closer to the top of the scoring lead. Toews has come on hard in the second half, but as of Tuesday morning, he was still seventh in the scoring race. I know I won’t let that affect my vote, but I believe it may affect many who will vote.
Dan Rosen, NHL.com
Why he can: Toews deserves to get a hard look at being the league’s overall MVP because when the Blackhawks were in their most vulnerable state, he effectively put the entire team on his back and carried them to an eight-game winning streak, which brought the swagger and winning feeling back to the room. His numbers may not be as good as Daniel Sedin or Steven Stamkos, but it can be argued that nobody is more valuable to his team.
Why he can’t: He wasn’t the best player in the NHL from the start of the season to the finish. He had a good second half, but 40 or so games do not a season make. MVP candidates carry their teams for 82 games, which separates them from the mere elite players in the league that season.