With NHL Awards season near, our writers make a case for each of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Martin St. Louis as the most outstanding player as voted upon by the players. Which nominee is most deserving of the Ted Lindsay Award?
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Is this even a debate?
Crosby was so good, he only needed 36 games to be the NHL’s most outstanding player.
OK, he wasn’t won yet, but anyone with a right mind knows Crosby should win this year’s Ted Lindsay Award.
If this was an argument for most valuable, the 12 games Crosby missed could be considered a knock against him. But in terms of most outstanding, this shouldn’t even be a conversation.
The Penguins’ superstar destroyed his counterparts in points per game (third highest single-season total in last 13 years), and despite missing the last month of season, still finished tied for third in the scoring race.
Crosby was so dominant this season that he was leading the league for scoring for most of the time he sat out with a broken jaw. He still finished top five in the NHL in assists, plus/minus, and even-strength points.
His most impressive feat wasn’t even in his own numbers but how much better he made his teammates around him.
Chris Kunitz had never been close to a point-a-game player but playing with Crosby this season — scored 52 points in 48 games. Pascal Dupuis, a solid but unspectacular role player for most of his career, had 20 goals and 38 points in 48 games. Both produced numbers way above their career averages.
This is a Barry Bonds home run type of no-doubter: Crosby was by far the NHL’s most outstanding player.
“He’s obviously a special player; the skill is one thing and his speed is another thing,” Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic said before Crosby returned in the playoffs. People notice how good he is with the goal scoring and things like that, but it’s his work ethic.” — Jeff Simmons
Congratulations to Sidney Crosby, finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award! pens.pe/12gHILH
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 9, 2013
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Many around the hockey world believed Ovechkin lost his passion for the game, wasn’t a team player, and was done as a superstar at the NHL level.
However, Ovechkin emphatically silenced his critics this past season.
The Washington Capitals’ captain had a sensational campaign that saw him snatch the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy away from Steven Stamkos, as well as earn a nomination for the Ted Lindsay Award — an honour given out annually to the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the players.
In 48 games for the Southeast Division-winning Capitals, the Great Eight terrorized goalies to a tune of 32 goals and 56 points.
As elite players do, Ovechkin rose to the occasion when his team needed him most. In the final 29 games of the regular season, the former first-overall pick notched 22 goals and 41 points.
What gets lost when looking at Ovi’s gaudy numbers is the leadership he infuses into the Capitals, says Washington winger Troy Brouwer.
“He makes his presence known in the dressing room,” Brouwer told The Washington Post last week. “He’s vocal and he’s always talking. He demands the best out of himself, and that’s all you can ask of a captain.” — Tom Ruminski
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
How could the oldest and shortest player to ever win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s highest scorer not earn a little respect from his peers?
Dude has Steven freaking Stamkos on his team, and he outscored him.
Think about that for a second.
A No. 1-overall draft selection, Stamkos is a 23-year-old, Nike-endorsed Macedonian hockey god fine-tuned by health guru Gary Roberts.
Never drafted, St. Louis will be 38 years old when the Lindsay is handed out, and he scored more points (60) than Stamkos and Crosby and Ovechkin and all these players in their prime.
Is it his fault Tampa’s defence was porous or that GM Steve Yzerman might have been better off prying Ben Bishop away from the Senators eight months earlier?
Surely if Crosby didn’t break his jaw and miss the last 25 per cent of the season or Ovechkin had been awake for the first 75 per cent, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But here we are.
St. Louis embodies outstanding in his consistency and odds-bucking. He’s a Lady Byng winner and an ironman. He plays with integrity and passion and a disproportionately long stick, and he could probably care less if he gets more individual awards.
“I’d trade that for a chance to play in the playoffs any day,” he told reporters after clinching the Art Ross.
Outstanding response, Marty. The kind your fellow players respect. — Luke Fox