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Crosby Deserves the Hart More Than Ever, But…



Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 14: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) skates with the puck while New York Islanders defenseman Devon Toews (25) defends during the second period in Game 3 of the First Round in the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 14, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

Sidney Crosby has been the constant. As talented players have emerged and receded, colorful characters been the flavor of the moment, Sidney Crosby has methodically and consistently been his team’s best hockey player and the standard bearer for a confused league. From the clutch and grab era to the speed era and whatever era we’re currently embarking, Crosby has been the NHL’s constant. Yet the writers have awarded him just two Hart trophies in 13 years. It’s time they bestowed another, but…

Connor McDavid is the next NHL flag bearer. Nikita Kucherov exploded this season.

There’s a strong argument for each. But none as strong as carrying a league. None as strong as carrying a team which was tearing at itself on the inside. It’s remarkable to post 100 points despite more than half of a season of following lines which played hot potato with the puck and a defensive corps which shuffled pairs and struggled for its footing.

No one had a season like Sidney Crosby. No one meant more. Nor has anyone meant more over the past decade.

There is some hope the writers get this one right and recognize the constant. But…not much. Hockey writers aren’t all in love with the game and revere its intangibles.

“I’m not going to get my hopes up. There’s two pretty good seasons there in the group,” Crosby told assembled reporters at an NHL event Tuesday.”It’s great to be nominated and it’s always an honor to be here.”

Ever the statesman long before he was even a man, Crosby knows the game like few others. He lives it, breathes it and knows it to its smallest detail. He popped for 100 points, including 35 goals. And Crosby doesn’t fatten up on garbage time points or secondary assists. In fact, this season he had more right wingers than a Fox News panel. From Dominik Simon, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, to even Jake Guentzel, but Crosby kept producing.

Is he the perfect superstar?

Crosby could have been a Selke candidate for best defensive forward, too. If the rink were 300 feet, he would still play end to end. And he held a team together which became bored with itself. As other top players struggled or licked the stamp and mailed the effort, Crosby shined.

To compare his advanced stats to others like McDavid or Kucherov is futile. The others had great seasons, too, though in McDavid’s case his team again sank to the bottom. Could the McDavid led Edmonton Oilers have finished last without him?

Kucherov ran away with the Art Ross trophy and that brings attention and adulation. It was seemingly clinched by January, just as Tampa Bay clinched a playoff spot. He scored 128 points including 41 goals, which is the most points in a season since Mario Lemieux scored 161 in 1995-96. Jaromir Jagr had 127 in 1998-99.

But how many important faceoffs was Kucherov called to take? How often was he digging on the defensive end wall? Being a winger is a different mindset and world than the hard work of being a center.

Hockey prizes grit, determination, a complete game, and competing at full speed every night when determining contract values but too few writers consider those intangibles when voting Crosby for Hart.

The Hart trophy is a single season award, and too often it is confused with the best offensive season award. But should not bedrock consistency, year after year, of unofficially being the league’s most valuable player actually result in being awarded the trophy for the most valuable player?

The process has denied Crosby the official title too often. They’ve invited him to the awards almost every season but always crown their shiny new toy who surprised everyone with a great offensive season.

Crosby deserves center-stage recognition. If not for a remarkable season then for the string of remarkable seasons without the proper recognition. It’s time to right a few past wrongs and recognize Crosby, but…like Crosby, don’t get your hopes. up.