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High Tide Hockey: What Makes A Hart Beat (Get It?)

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The Hart trophy. Every year it inspires a stupid amount of debate. Are goaltenders and defensemen overlooked? Is it the most valuable player relative to his team? Or relative to the league? How awful are the mainstream media voters?

It really bothers me that so often we're left with undeserving winners. We're left with Henrik Sedin winning by virtue of incredibly soft competition and cushy zone starts (not to mention a ton of ice time). We're left with players like Zach Parise putting up 90+ points while playing from the defensive zone a good bit against some heavy hitters and not getting any hardware while other players skate to 130 against nobodies,

It's frustrating, awful, and wrong.

So what should really define a Hart winner? I've made my feelings that it shouldn't just be the highest scoring player pretty clear above. That being said, it shouldn't just be the guy with the hardest QoC and worst OZONE% in the league either. Like pretty much everything everywhere, the truth lies somewhere inbetween.

It's impossible to ignore offensive stats. It really is. For as solidly defensive as a player might be, the goals they score are the ones that win games. Counting goals that weren't scored against them while on the ice is problematic and difficult. So given that offensive stats are important, let's say that barring an absurdly good offensive year from a defenseman, the Hart trophy winner will come from the top ten in scoring.

Here's where you have an issue. This is where a players circumstances need to be accounted for. Take Corey Perry this year, for example. Guy leads the league in goals with 46 (outside shot to hit 50? Maybe), has an absudly low 46.8 OZONE% and has the second highest percentage of ESP among the top ten in total points (65.2% to Alex Ovechkin's 72.7%).

Sure, he plays on a good line, but that line does all the heavy lifting for the Ducks. Compare that to Daniel Sedin on the Canucks, who is likely regarded as the main competition for Perry. Or Toews, another late season flavor for Hart. In fact, let's compare the forward Hart candidates right handy table form! (Forward Hart candidates are based on USA Today's votes in their weekly power rankings that was the originial plan until I realized that the only forwards that received votes were the top ten scorers sans Selanne. Hart voters are awful).


Player  Team G  A  P S  S%  TOI/G  ESP ESP% OZONE%
D. Sedin VAN 40 58 98 249 16.1 18:32 59 60.2% 74.0%
St Louis TBL 29 62 91 232 12.5 21:10 52 57.1% 49.2%
H. Sedin VAN 19 72 91 152 12.5 19:18 58 63.7% 71.1%
Perry ANA 46 43 89 271 17 22:07 58 65.2% 46.8%
Stamkos TBL 44 44 88 263 16.7 20:23 53 60.2% 50.3%
Iginla CGY 37 40 77 266 13.9 20:54 50 64.9% 52.8%
Ovechkin WSH 29 48 77 337 8.6 21:24 56 72.7% 50.8%
Zetterberg DET 24 53 77 300 8 19:46 46 59.7% 47.6%
Selanne ANA 28 48 76 195 14.4 17:55 44 57.9% 45.4%
Toews CHI 31 44 75 220 14.1 20:37 48 64.0% 61.2%

Some of the formatting gets funky, but it should be readable. I've bolded the top two in every category to identify leaders. Who's the got the most bolds? Perry, with 5. A few breakdown notes:

  • TOI is important because it indicates who the coach sees as most important to success.
  • The majority of play is at ES, which is why I included ES scoring. Perry is in second both in percent and total points here.
  • Zone starts are good to know because it shows who's managing to do heavy lifting despite where they start on the ice.
  • The OZONE% for the Sedins is probably the highest I've ever seen for regular players. Completely inflating their point totals. Though it's not shown here, they both only end in the OZONE about 55% of the time. Bizarre.
  • Toew's case for the Hart is vastly overstated.
  • I'd still vote for him over Stamkos or St. Louis though.
  • I'm not saying I'd vote for Perry first, but if I was asked to vote, I'd vote for Perry.
  • One thing for Perry not shown here: him (and Selanne) dragging the Ducks to the playoffs.

Even with all this we see so many wrters willing to throw their votes at the highest point getter, despite there already being a trophy for that. Reward the most valuable player, not the most visible.


  • How great is Selanne. 40 years old and still kicking it.
  • Frequent commenter Justin has found just how frequent he comments: in a single GDT he left over 280 comments.
  • Glad Bobby Ryan wasn't hurtin that knee-on-knee by Mark Giordano.
  • Even though it's at the cost of our team, watching the Ducks these past few weeks just been awesome. Cup pick? Maybe.


  • What the hell was Giordano thinking last night with that knee-on-knee? Just dumb.
  • How many times did we hear the Flames say "We need to win out" or "these are must win games" over the last gew weeks? And these are the efforts we get? Yikes. The team is not that good folks
  • This is two years without playoffs. Roughorrow I'll have what I'm pretty sure is the first ever Matchsticks an Gasoline interview up.
Tomorrow I'll put up the first even M&G prospect interview: Max Reinhart. Needless to say, I'm excited.