Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The "Staal" trophy

It never sits well with me when an MVP gets dominated in the playoffs. This was a frequent occurrence in the NBA, when Michael Jordan would reign his vengeance and fuuuuuuurious anger on Charles Barkley and Karl Malone for stealing trophies from him.

The same thing happened in the NFL, when Peyton Manning meekly exited the post-season in the first round after receiving the MVP trophy. In my mind, the list of MVPs should read like a yearbook for what happened in a given sport each year. Last year wasn't the year of Manning. It was the year of great offensive and defensive lines and the out of left field greatness of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald.

But, hey, calm down traditionalists. Stop spitting. The NHL wouldn't have to alter the Hart trophy to make things right.

Instead, the league could change the Pearson trophy slightly, having a "player's MVP" chosen by his peers for a full season. Instead of just judging a player by regular season numbers, both the season and the playoffs could be taken into consideration.

That would be a lot more interesting, as the Pearson is largely redundant right now. Just think of all the interesting debates. Would a player who lit the playoffs on fire win even despite a so-so regular season? Could a guy have a year so singular and special that he could with the Pearson and miss the playoffs? Perhaps we could award Pavel Datsyuk with something a little more meaningful than a Selke (not that there is anything wrong with a Selke)?

The idea came to me long ago, when Eric Staal lead the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup championship but received no individual trophies. Staal was one of the best players during the 2003-04 regular season, hitting 100 points for what might be the only time in his NHL career. Despite slowing down in the SCF, Staal lead all playoff scorers with 28 points. Yet, Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton were the best players in the regular season and Rod Brindamour and Chris Pronger overshadowed him in the Conn Smythe voting. So you wouldn't know just how great Staal's year was just from looking at individual awards.

But if the Pearson trophy was considered the award for the best full year, Staal would have been tough to beat. And us bloggers, MSM members and hockey talking heads would have yet another thing to debate tirelessly.

And, really, isn't that what is most valuable?

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