Righting a Historic Wrong
As noted at the Battle of Alberta, SI published their top 10 NHL rookie seasons yesterday. Incidentally, Japers' Rink did a top 11 a mere two weeks ago. Makes you wonder where SI gets their story ideas...
Predictably, Gretzky's rookie season was mentioned at BoA. It was a travesty Wayne didn't get the Calder. Lucky for him, he went on to have a pretty good career anyway.
When the WHA merged with the NHL, players from the WHA were declared ineligible for the Calder Trophy because they had already played at least a year of professional hockey. This makes sense for a guy like Real Cloutier who had five seasons under his belt before joining the NHL.
Wayne Gretzky began his first NHL season in '79-80 as an 18 year old. Although he played a year in the WHA, he started as a 17 year old. He wouldn't even have been allowed to play in the NHL.
As everyone knows, Wayne had a pretty good year. He finished with 137 points, tying him with Marcel Dionne for the league scoring lead. That year was Dionne's career high. Guy Lafleur finished third, with 125 points. Lafleur's career high was 136 in '76-77.
Also of note, Gretzky won the Hart Trophy. This was in an era when journalists voted simply for the best player in the league, before they decided to delve into the semantics of the Hart Trophy criteria. Now you often hear journalists cite the "player judged to be the most valuable to his team" phrase to justify voting for a player who miraculously lifted his team above expectations. (By the "most valuable to his team" logic, shouldn't the winner always be a goalie??)
Gretzky's first year as an 18-19 year old was better than the very best seasons of Marcel Dionne and Guy Lafleur, who were both 28 and in their prime. Those are two Hall Of Fame players, and not exactly Clarke Gillies calibre HOFers. Oh yeah - Gretzky accomplished this without Charlie Simmer, Dave Taylor or Steve Shutt. He did it with B.J MacDonald on his wing. MacDonald had 46 goals in 80 games that year, and 45 goals in the other 139 games of his career. He was later reborn as Rob Brown.
Denying Gretzky the Calder was simply carrying on the NHL-WHA grudge and holding it against an incredible young player. It was a subtle way of saying "you shoulda waited and played in the NHL." Articles like the one from SI shouldn't continue to perpetuate the NHL's stupidity from 25 years ago.
Update: To perfectly make my point about the Hart for me, Terry Koshan says "Ovechkin fits definition of award." What an insult to legitimate Hart candidates like Jagr.
Mudcrutch provides some sound logic for moving Theo to Washington:
"Oddly though, there are teams out there who I think should be interested in Theodore. In the old NHL, it was always the good teams looking to make moves to take on salary. In the new NHL, it makes more sense for a bad team to make this move. Why? The salary floor."Well worth reading - it's just crazy enough to work!
A fellow by the name of Gabriel Desjardins has produced some excellent articles at behindthenet.ca.
Here, he uses math to project Sid Crosby's point total for this season based on his numbers in junior. He comes up with an estimate of 89. As of this very minute, Crosby is actually on pace for 91. Whoa.