By now, we’ve all heard the news. Nathan Mackinnon, Taylor Hall, and Anze Kopitar have been named Hart Trophy finalists. We’ve also took to social media to air our grievances because Philadelphia’s Forgotten Son, Claude Giroux, was nowhere to be found on that list.
That Giroux was not among the NHL's finalists for MVP is a sham. Yet historically, the FLyers have not fared well in PHWA voting in several categories. Not since Lindros. #voterbias
— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchRET) April 28, 2018
Tell ‘em Panotch!
Nick gets it.
Giroux scored 102 pts this season.
Giroux is responsible for the development & breakout of other players on this team.
Giroux is a vocal & inspirational leader on/off the ice.
Giroux plays his heart out every game.
Giroux is elite.
Yet Giroux is not a Hart finalist 🤦♂️.
— Ryan Kuss (@ryankuss98) April 27, 2018
Thanks to Ryan, I rest my case, and I don’t have to elaborate. But I will.
Let me get one thing straight, there were so many players that were deserving of this award this year. Malkin was electric for the Penguins and a big reason why they steamrolled right into the playoffs, and over the Flyers. Nikita Kucherov had a fantastic year for the Lightning. Even despite the lack of team success, Connor McDavid led the league in scoring and played out of his mind.
However, none of that matters, because this award is SUPPOSED to be about who meant the most to their team’s success.
This isn’t meant to bash the writer’s association for leaving out a player that clearly deserved the nod. I’m not going to sit behind my keyboard and say that every single one of those writers that voted Giroux for 4th or 5th, or not at all, was wrong for doing so. Hell, I won’t even go as far as to say that they must not have watched any Flyers hockey at all this season.
What I will say, is that Kopitar getting in over Giroux is pretty egregious.
Anze Kopitar had a great year for the Los Angeles Kings, as evidenced by his nod for the Frank J. Selke Award as well. He mustered 92 points along with some decent advanced stats in 34 goals created, an 11.0 point share, and 51.32 game score. There’s no doubt that Kopitar was a main factor in why the Los Angeles Kings made the playoffs this year.
On the flip side, the season that Claude Giroux had was the main catalyst for the Flyers sneaking into the playoffs as well. Sure, Giroux had a better supporting cast than Kopitar, but that doesn’t make him any less important to his team.
Giroux, like Kopitar, is the captain of his team. Captains tend to have a more expanded role than your typical forward. Claude Giroux, after being moved from center to left wing to bring Sean Couturier up to the top line, exhibited skills and a performance that exemplifies what a captain is supposed to be. He had his best season in the orange and black, and enabled Sean Couturier to have his best season as well. Couturier unlocked his offensive potential on the top line, but not until Claude Giroux moved aside so that he could reach that potential.
Intangibles aside, we get down to some stats. Game Score is a stat that is used to do exactly what it’s called: score an individuals game. On average this year, Kopitar scored a 51.32. Over on the east coast, Claude Giroux scored a 60.12. When talking point shares, Giroux is .8 ahead of Kopitar in that category as well, standing at 11.8. If we’re talking basic stats, Giroux tied Blake Wheeler for the league lead in assists, and was one goal behind Kopitar, but Kopitar was 11 assists behind Giroux. To put that in simpler terms, Kopitar had one more goal, Giroux had 11 more assists, and Giroux had 10 more points than Kopitar.
No, the Hart Trophy isn’t meant for the NHL’s leading scorer, there’s another trophy for that. However, this trophy is typically rewarded to the person who put up the most points on a successful team. The Flyers success is due mainly to the success that Claude Giroux had this season. If Claude Giroux hadn’t put up the numbers he did, Sean Couturier wouldn’t have had the opportunities that he did, and therefore wouldn’t have had career highs in nearly every stat category this year. Jake Voracek wouldn’t have put up as many assists as he did. Shayne Gostisbehere found a lot of success quarterbacking the powerplay one unit, and do you think that his numbers would have suffered on that unit if Claude Giroux didn’t put up 102 points on the season. You’re a fool if you think otherwise.
This isn’t a call to arms, or a cry for Giroux to even win the award. This is simply meant to show that Claude Giroux not being included over Anze Kopitar is a snub at it’s most basic form. It is a flaw, a flub, a mistake if you will. Claude Giroux, having the season that he had, should have had his name mentioned in the final three for the Hart Trophy this season.
There were many deserving recipients for the award, but nobody means more to his team than Claude Giroux. Isn’t that what the award is about, after all?
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports