Sunday, March 23, 2008

You can't fix stupid

Nope, it’s not our line, and it wasn’t uttered in reference to hockey by its author, but we thank comic Ron White for a line that certainly applies to one of hockey’s…”challenged” columnists.

We give you two quotes from Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox, the first from April 2006 in commentary about the Calder Trophy race…

"For their age – [Alex] Ovechkin is 20, [Sidney] Crosby doesn't turn 19 until August -- they are remarkably mature, in their professional demeanors and their on-ice play. Ovechkin was a force for his country at the 2006 Winter Olympics, scoring the winning goal in a highly emotional victory over Canada, and Crosby has been one of the few consistent factors for the Pens as a season of high hopes turned into another year lounging in the bottom levels of the NHL.

Indeed, although some -- including this writer -- would argue that Phaneuf or Lundqvist has been as good as, if not better than, the two young snipers, both of those players have found their freshman seasons eased somewhat by being part of winning teams."

Interesting…Ovechkin and Crosby – the emerging centerpieces of their era of hockey, top scorers, the players (regardless of veteran status) that every team had to game plan for when facing them in their respective rookie years – are no better than 3rd and 4th on one scribe’s ballot for rookie of the year (although he does damn with faint praise, calling criticism of their play "nitpicking"). And in what sense were either merely, "snipers?"

Fast forward to yesterday in a column titled, "Talented Losers Don't Make the Cut on This Ballot"…

“…it's [Nicklas] Lidstrom-[Martin] Brodeur, 1-2, or perhaps 1 and 1A on this ballot, with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin third for the way in which he has lifted that club during Sidney Crosby's injury absences.

But what about the brilliant Alex Ovechkin?

Well, he's still got two weeks to get the young, talented Capitals into the playoffs, and if he can do that, this ballot will need revision.

Otherwise, picking an MVP off a non-playoff team just doesn't pass the smell test.”

It is worth noting that the only player contending for a major award that Cox refers to by name as ineligible on his ballot for a major award is Alex Ovechkin. He chooses Jonathan Toews for the Calder, and the last time we looked, Chicago's record wasn't as good as Washington's. There are but two colors on Cox's palette -- "excellence" and "losers." In case you need help, he's identified Ovechkin (and only Ovechkin) as having the latter shade.

What he has to say in justifying Martin Brodeur over Evgeni Nabokov for the Vezina or Evgeni Malkin over Ovechkin for the Hart is equally silly (having nothing to do with what the award citation actually says...we're not aware that who a general manager might wish for as a goaltender, for example, is of any relevance to the actual selection criterion for the Vezina)

However, at least Cox is consistent. The charms of consistency are often overrated, though, as this poster so poignantly illustrates…

Or, as Ron White so elegantly put it…”you can’t fix stupid.”


Jimmy Jazz said...

I just thank God that Cox is only a sniveling B-grade columnist, without an actual say in the voting. If the ESPN crowd ran the show, we'd all be washing Crosby's feet with our tears.

Bill said...

I had a brief e-mail exchange with Mr. Cox earlier today. He claims to have a vote for the Calder and Hart trophies which suggests he is a member of the PHWA. I have not been able to confirm whether or not that is true. What disturbs me about Damien Cox is that he has no regard for the tradition, intention, or spirit of the Hart trophy. He treats it as a beauty contest with out any consideration or respect for what the trophy represents. The Hart is, and has alway been, a trophy awarded to the player who is most valuable to his TEAM. That is the part Mr. Cox is simply unable to grasp. As long as people like him are allowed to participate in the voting, the award will occasionally go to the wrong person.

Hooks Orpik said...

The Calder Trophy is awarded (and I quote): "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League"

The Hart mentions "value". I still think it's reasonable to say a most valuable player boosts his club into a postseason that 53% of the league makes.

In my opinion neither of these two trophies have been settled. Toews, to me has been the most "proficient" rookie, with Backstrom a close 2nd. Ovechkin is in the process of elevating his team to the playoffs, the outcome remains to be seen. If the Caps don't make the playoffs, I think I would cast my vote for Nabokov or Brodeur..You know, if I had a vote.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

I have no issue with anyone talking of Toews and Backstrom in the same breadth. If Nicklas Backstrom comes in second to Jonathan Toews, to me that would be akin to the Crosby - Ovechkin debate. As for the Hart Trophy, having Ovechkin thought of and talked bout in the same breadth with Malkin (given the season he's had) or Brodeur, given his immense value to the Devils is also fine by me. Though as a Caps fan I'd point that as far as intagibles go that, not really relavant to the intent of the award, hitting 60 goals - something that hasn't been done in over a decade, in addition to being the key player on the his own team is a pretty good credential in my book.

However, even implying that Ovechkin and the Caps are "losers" after looking at the facts, their play, since the coaching change to Boudreau, has yielded is just stupid. As you point out - that's something you just can't fix.

Hooks Orpik said...

UFCF, you're right it would be pithy to try and give AO an underhanded compliment by pointing out the Caps position....Especially when the result of the season is more unresolved than ever.

I think it's clear to say Ovechkin has had the best year in the NHL so far (with Mr. Malkin perhaps still to upstage him), but at this point the most VALUABLE player would probably be Nabakov, Brodeur or Lidstrom.

If AO has a few more nights like the Atlanta game and carries the Caps to a playoff berth; all the hot air in Canada goes for naught, it's not even a discussion. He gets all the hardware.

The most important hockey will be in these final two weeks...Until the dust settles it's all just a bunch of "what ifs"...We'll have to see how it plays out.