Closed-Ballot PHWA Vote Turns Subjective Player Awards into Novelties

This guy got two points for Selke. - Abelimages

Why shouldn't PHWA writers be required to defend their hockey opinion? It's what they're supposedly paid to do on a daily basis.

Shane "six suspended games and a fine" Doan got a first place Lady Bing vote. Tyler "Possession Black Hole" Bozak got two Selke points. Daniel "Probably Not" Alfredsson won the Mark Messier Leadership award. Scott Howson got a vote for GM of the year. (Edit: It has been pointed out to me that Messier and GM of the Year aren't voted on by the PHWA. I don't have a problem with only opening the votes to what the PHWA does vote on: Calder, Selke, Norris, Byng, and Hart, all of which have had controversial votes in the past.)

There's no good reason that the NHL individual player awards should be closed-ballot - they would say it's to avoid getting badgered by dissenting fans, but I think it's more about phoning in the vote. The PHWA is determining contract bonuses, negotiating leverage, and, more generally, influencing how players are thought of: for whatever reason, you can bet that Mark Messier Leadership Award will be brought up after his third-ballot Hall of Fame vote. So shouldn't voters be asked to simply have a process?

If the PHWA was genuinely concerned about writers having to discuss their hockey opinions (which they get paid to do), they could simply instruct voters to keep a record of their process. That way, when we come back and laugh at the writers responsible for giving Tyler Bozak a Selke point, shouldn't they have to look into their book and say "I did it for his faceoff ability, and how often Carlyle leaned on him, not for his possession stats." It'd be dumb reasoning, but anonymity doesn't change that (remember, that's the same anonymity that lets writers look down on us psuedonymous bloggers), and open discussion might improve his or her next vote.

Instead, votes like these - votes like "Scott Howson is a top 5 GM in the league" - just undermine the value of these awards. They get turned into one giant Hype Train - the same way that Lidstrom won a Norris just because he might retire. Forcing PHWA writers to put some thought, some analysis, and some defense into their votes and the league they cover might actually make the awards a little more meaningful. Until then, it's all Richard and Ross.

Awards Links:

Jonathan Toews Wins Selke | The Hockey Writers

Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding wins Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy - 2013 NHL Awards
How Marty St. Louis won the 2013 Lady Byng Trophy (and Shane Doan got a 1st-place vote) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports

Senators shine in first half of NHL awards - The Hockey News

(Yes, I'm aware that Alfredsson's "Probably Not" comment came after the vote was determined.)

Interesting links:

NHL Grab Bag: How Should We Call These Playoff Games? - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
DGB on Grantland

Alain Vigneault reportedly turns down Stars, likely headed to Rangers
NYR must've had a pretty good offer for AV.

Max Domi - Comparables - The Copper & Blue
This series from Oilers fans has been interesting - doing draft year comparables for 2013 top picks.

The Puck Stops Here - Kukla's Korner
PSH wonders who the worst player in the playoffs is. I guess he's talking about "still in the playoffs," because otherwise the right answer is Colton Orr.

Rumblings: Who's staying, who's going? - Cross Checks Blog - ESPN
Some rumors from LeBrun.

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