It's beginning to look nigh impossible for a Western Conference player to garner a Hart Trophy nod this season, what with the remarkable campaigns of Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Henrik Lundqvist, all of whom look deserving of a win, let alone a nomination. There's no denying that, regardless of which Conference you might think is stronger (it's the West, which has long had better teams and better beasts), the standout players this season have come from the East.
But, if the Hart stipulated representation from each Conference, I'd be inclined to select Jarome Iginla.
Of course, this is absolute nonsense. I'm not complaining about a Canucks fan showing Iggy some love, because that's kind of awesome. What bothers me is the assumption that Iginla is the most important player on the Flames these days, and as anyone who's kept up with the Flames can tell you, that's hardly accurate.
With increasing frequency, Jarome Iginla's seasons have been spotted with games where he seemingly plays with no emotion or drive whatsoever. He looks lost, turned around, bored, what have you. He seems to rarely hit, never fights, and frequently leaves the fan wondering, "Where's Iggy?"
It's not just the "he's the emotional drive for the team!" stuff that's wrong either. Iginla's scoring is decreasing more and more and he's much less important to the Flames' offense. Sure, he might lead the team in points, but keep in mind Olli Jokinen is only four points behind him. Yes, Olli Jokinen. With a pro-rated 71 points at the end of the season, this is hardly a Hart Trophy winner.
Of course, the article's biggest sin is perpetuating the "Iginla has slow starts!" myth.
Iginla can be a streaky player, but his trajectory is actually fairly predictable when you think about it. He's started slow every year for the last decade, often leading to questions that he's on the downward slope of his career, but he always manages to finish strong enough to reach 30 goals. At this point, it's inevitable.
This is 100% factually wrong, as Mitch proved earlier this season.
Jarome historically is a very strong starter who slows down slightly. At the very least he is a consistent producer based on his first 15 games production.
The reality is the opposite of the myth.
But like I said, this isn't to trash Iginla's declining play- his style is one that wears down his body much more than, say, Selanne's would. No, this is to point out that by perpetuating the idea of Jarome Iginla being the most important player on the Flames right now, you're burying the very very significant contributions of Jay Bouwmeester, Curtis Glencross, Mikael Backlund, and (obviously) Miikka Kiprusoff.
Without Bouwmeester the Flames would be getting outshot massively on a consistent basis.
Without Glencross the offense would slow down to damn near a crawl.
Without Backlund the Flames would never the defensive zone.
Iginla's contributions are important, sure, but they're nowhere near the level that columnists would have you believe for the sake of a nice story.
And for what it's worth, if I were to pick a Western Conference player as a Hart Candidate, it'd be Ryan Suter. And if I were to pick a Calgary player, it'd be Jay Bouwmeester.