Malkin, Crosby top Rob Rossi's ballot
I doubt many fans of the Penguins will find fault with this ballot. I am equally confident fans of the Capitals and Red Wings, whose Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk did not appear on my list, will call for my removal from the PHWA voting list for this ballot. "Homer," they will surely say. They couldn't be more wrong.
Regarding the Hart Trophy, voters are asked to choose based off a general criteria: "Player adjudged to be most valuable to his team" during the regular season.
Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the first and third NHL scorers, combined for 216 points. The next eight players to appear in at least 60 games with the Penguins combined for 297 points.
The difference between Crosby's 103 points and winger Chris Kunitz's 53 was the second-largest between a club's second and third scorers, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Malkin and Crosby put the Penguins in the playoffs. Period. End of story.
They were equally valuable to a team that lost six forwards from a 2008 Stanley Cup Final roster, played most of the season without top defenseman Sergei Gonchar and had to help steer the club through a late coaching change.
Steve Mason, a rookie, was superb in goal for Columbus, which made the playoffs for the first time. Winger and goal-scoring stud Alex Ovechkin was remarkable for Washington, which repeated as Southeast Division champions. Solid-as-a-rock Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara set the tone nightly for the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.
However, the Hart is about "most valuable," and nobody can convince me that another player fit that description more than Malkin or Crosby for the Penguins -- just as nobody could convince me Ovechkin wasn't decidedly deserving of winning last season.
However, Ovechkin's team was more balanced this season.
The Penguins needed Malkin and/or Crosby every game. They wouldn't have been in the postseason, where they won the Stanley Cup, without their two-hearts-are-better-than-one centers.
That is why Malkin and Crosby topped my ballot.Additional Information:
Rossi's Hart vote
Tribune-Review Penguins beat reporter and chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association Rob Rossi reveals his ballot for the Hart Trophy ('player adjudged to be most valuable to his team'):
1 - C Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
2 - C Sidney Crosby, Penguins
3 - G Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
4 - LW Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
5 - D Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
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