Colorado Avalanche: Reaction to the PHWA Voting

DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 07: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Nashville Predators with teammate Cale Makar #8 at Pepsi Center on November 07, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 07: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Nashville Predators with teammate Cale Makar #8 at Pepsi Center on November 07, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

A couple Colorado Avalanche players have been voted into the mid-season PHWA awards. Some of the voting seems a little odd.

The Colorado Avalanche are still ensconced in their bye-week. Nathan MacKinnin is having a self-proclaimed good time representing the team at the All Star weekend, but he’s sure to head off on his own vacation right after.

Meanwhile, the Avs have made news in other ways. Specifically, the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) has taken a mid-season vote for NHL awards, and Avs players have figured in their tallies.

Leaving awards in the hands of writers — or other independent entities really — is a difficult call. Writers aren’t necessarily experts in the field of ice hockey. They can only look at data and their own experience with watching games. What’s more, they usually come with their own preferences and biases.

Well, Colorado is making enough noise that they have to be noticed.

Hart Trophy

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We all know what the Hart Trophy is after Nathan MacKinnon lost out on in two years ago. It’s the trophy that’s awarded to the supposed team’s MVP.

Now, the Hart doesn’t come without its controversy. Mostly it comes down to what the term “most valuable player” means. Many people opine the team has to make the playoffs — otherwise how much value did a player have if his team didn’t have success.

Others opine that the player must be head and shoulders above his teammates. That’s allegedly what lost MacKinnon the Hart Trophy two years ago.

Well, the PHWA has voted MacKinnon into the mid-season awards for the Hart, but he’s in second place again. The player adjudged to be more valuable to his team? Connor MacDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.

Here’s where I’m going to disagree. MacDavid has just one point more than teammate Leon Draisaitl. One point — that’s not head and shoulders, and that’s a far smaller margin than what lost MacKinnon the trophy two years ago (13 points).

This season, MacKinnon has almost double the points of #2 on the team — 72 to Cale Makar‘s 37. And Makar is a rookie, which was part of the rationale for awarding Taylor Hall the Hart two years ago — his #2 was a rookie.

The writers seem to be coming in with the preconceived prejudice that McDavid is the best player right now, so of course he must be his team’s MVP more than anyone else. That’s simply not true.

Calder Trophy

Not since Nathan MacKinnon won the award in 2014 have the Colorado Avalanche had a rookie that seemed deserving of the Calder Trophy. Well, we sure as heck do now — Cale Makar.

Luckily, the mid-season awards reflect that truth. Makar is in first place for mid-season voting. He’s followed by Quinn Hughes and Victor Olofsson.

Makar is the heavy favorite to win the award. He, a defenseman, is ahead of a forward, Olofsson, by one point despite having played one fewer game. He’s got three more points than Hughes, who’s played seven more games.

As they say in Avs Nation, you can’t spell Calder without Cale.

Lady Byng

This award is a funny one. Here’s the description:

"“the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”"

Talk about 10 pounds of marbles in a 5-pound bag. (Keeping it family-friendly.) However, conventionally this award is given to a really good player who’s a gentleman both on and off the ice.

Ok, Nathan MacKinnon was voted first in this category. What? I love me some Nate Dogg, and I don’t think he’s any kind of rascal, but… he’s got a wicked Irish temper. And it shows on the ice quite frequently. I don’t know that I’d call that exactly gentlemanly. He does have only eight penalty minutes, though, and the PHWA often uses that as a standard.

MacKinnon is head, shoulders, and navel above the next guy on the list for gentlemanly behavior, though — Auston Matthews. He terrorized a female security guard in her car over the summer then dropped trou to show his disdain. I’d pretty much pick any other star player, bar one of the Kanes, over Matthews for the Byng.

The third man on the list is Ryan O’Reilly, who won it as an Avalanche player in 2014. He probably deserves it again.

However, I’m going to put Cale Makar’s name up for this one. He has only four penalty minutes on the ice. And he never shows temper anywhere — on or off the ice. He’s known for being an even-keel and, dare I say, gentlemanly young man.

Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award

As the name suggests, this award is for the general manager who’s adjudged to have contributed most to his team’s success.

Well, our own Super Joe, Joe Sakic, has been voted in the first position for this award. Right behind him are John Chayka of the Arizona Coyotes and Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues. Now, Chayka executed the trades that brought both Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall to the team, so I wouldn’t argue his nomination or even win.

But Armstrong? All he did was bring back the majority of a team that won the Stanley Cup. Maybe the award is supposed to be cumulative, though it’s awarded annually.

Anyway, Sakic is a definite contender. He didn’t make any big splashes in the offseason nor in the season leading up to now. Yet he’s quietly built a team ready to make a deep playoff run — maybe even straight for the Stanley Cup.

MacKinnon's 1st 500 Games. dark. Next

Well, the Colorado Avalanche should get some love this season at the Awards Ceremony. I really hope Nate wins the Hart and Cale wins the Calder. They deserve those awards the most.