Alex Ovechkin enjoyed a wonderful season, didn’t he?
The Washington Capitals dervish deserved to win his third Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, and he certainly earned his place on the NHL’s first-team all-star squad. But such prizes don’t quite capture the magnitude of the forward’s performance in 2012-13. No, sir, said the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, whose first- and second-team all-star votes were revealed by the league Wednesday.
Ovie deserves to be named to both all-star squads, the writers — as a ballot-casting collective — decided; first team honours for his work on the right wing and second team for his play on left wing.
You read correctly. Ovechkin has a place on both all-star squads this season, even though he played but a handful of games on the left side. Even though new coach Adam Oates’ decision to shift the perennial left winger to the right side was well-documented by hockey scribes. Even though — and here’s the kicker, folks — the PHWA sent out an email in advance to all of its voting membership stating that Ovechkin is a right wing.
Ovie racked up 133 properly cast votes at right wing, and 45 at left wing. In short, roughly one in four voters miscast.
The writers — or, a significant chunk of them — screwed up. (And many of the ones who didn’t screw up were quick to call “not it” on Twitter.) There should be no excuses.
But the NHL should shoulder some blame here. My goodness, how do you hit “send” on a press-release email stating Ovechkin as a member of both outfits? How does common sense not compel you to vet that issue before making the announcement public? (Ridiculous conspiracy theory: Payback for all of those nasty six-month-old “Gary Bettman is the Devil” lockout columns. Discuss.)
Further, the NHL still lists Ovechkin as a left wing on its website. (So, too, does sportsnet.ca and unaffiliated popular research tool hockeydb.com; Wikipedia has him going both ways.)
“Ballots are emailed directly to (accounting firm) Ernst & Young,” tweeted Hockey Night in Canada‘s Elliotte Friedman. “So, I don’t know who sees them before they are made public.”
Well, someone should take a peek. Better still, revamp the process and have voters pick three forwards in general — or, at the very least, two wingers in general.
Thing is, when you look at it, Ovechkin’s positional fumble wasn’t the only case of errant voting:
To add insult to embarrassment, Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall was the one who got the shaft. A second-team all-star credit would have been the 21-year-old’s first major NHL honour — and would have earned him a $50,000 reward cheque from the NHL:
(image via oilersnation.com)
Opportunity, however, can be born from this clustermess. The red-faced voters and the league can get together and revamp this process. Perhaps voters can lose their ballots for casting carelessly, or at least have their votes published to be accountable.
Maybe it’ll take a double-Ovie to spark change here. The Ovechkin debacle could be to the PHWA what the Golden Tate touchdown catch was to NFL referees. A big, fat, public bad call that ultimately results in change for the better.
Still, helluva season for Ovie.
Here are the Great 8 Ovie all-star snafu tweets from Wednesday: