Toews vs. Couture (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Before Monday’s victory over the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was the subject of an interesting column by Sports Illustrated’s Stu Hackel. In it, the author laid out his case for Captain Serious to be named the NHL’s MVP. Here is an excerpt from the piece, illustrating the differences between Toews and fellow MVP candidate Patrick Kane:
“Kane has matured greatly this season, and for that, you have to give some props to Toews for the team standards he personifies. Toews has also been a guiding force for his rookie linemate, Brandon Saad, which was evident from the game telecast (Sunday) after Saad committed a rushed turnover in the game. Back on the bench, Toews explained how it should be done, then gave Saad a reassuring chuck on the arm.
“Kane may be the flashier player and he could siphon off some votes from his teammate. But Toews is the beating heart of the Blackhawks. And he should be rewarded with the Hart Trophy.”
The last paragraph of the piece that suggests Kane could siphon votes off from Toews is probably the biggest reason why he can’t be considered the favorite for the Hart. He likely will siphon votes off from Toews, because the way the voting works is that hockey writers from the Professional Hockey Writers Association rank their top five guys on a points system, and Toews and Kane will probably appear on quite a few ballots.
The one thing that could potentially save a Toews candidacy is the stellar end to the season that forward Alexander Ovechkin has had for the Washington Capitals. Scribes might not feel comfortable putting him in their top three (generally, the top three vote getters are announced as the finalists before the NHL Awards), so he could take a lot of fourth and fifth place votes away from Kane. In addition, writers may want to recognize the contributions of Sidney Crosby to the Penguins, so he could perform a similar role.
With the New York Islanders likely making the playoffs, center John Tavares is almost a lock to get a good deal of top three votes as well. Finally, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets could get a huge groundswell of support if he can lift the Jackets into the playoffs.
All of those narratives will be interesting to watch, but when push comes to shove, Toews definitely belongs in this conversation ahead of Kane, and he very likely could take the trophy, thereby cementing his place as one of the league’s elite players.