The NHL awards were given out last night in Vegas, and the only Flyer who looked to be a serious threat to take home an individual award came up just short, as Sean Couturier’s first-ever Selke nomination ended with him finishing second in the voting. But the Flyers’ captain and best player got some recognition as well, and we learned just how close he was to ending up as a finalist to be the league’s most valuable player.
Claude Giroux finished fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy, given each year to the player deemed most valuable to his team by the Pro Hockey Writers’ Association. His closest competition was Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, who finished third and was named as one of the three finalists for the award.
How close was Giroux to reaching the top-3? Painfully so.
Voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy by members of the PHWA: pic.twitter.com/0nnksEGw6o— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 21, 2018
Giroux finished just five vote points behind Kopitar, meaning that just one single third-place vote from any voter who didn’t have Giroux on his ballot would have drawn him into a tie for third.
One ballot. Out of 164 voters. That’s a tough pill to swallow. At least that was the difference between third and fourth, and not the difference between second and first, as winner Taylor Hall and runner-up Nathan MacKinnon finished in what was pretty close to a dead heat.
If you’ll offer us a moment of venting: Giroux should have been a finalist, and you could make a pretty good case that he should’ve won the whole dang thing. Guys that have good cases to win get left out in the cold every year, and it was a particularly crowded field at the top this year. I get it. But it’s still a shame.
The night wasn’t without its positives for Giroux, though. The captain was named NHL All-Star Second Team Left Wing, finishing behind Hall on the first team and just nudging out Alex Ovechkin for the second-team spot. Looks like there’s room for recognition for a guy who scores 102 points after all!
What makes Giroux’s placement on the All-Star team particularly impressive is that it happened despite him missing out on a few votes. 11 of them, to be specific, since 11 PHWA voters gave him their vote at the wrong position — nine at center, two at right wing.
Claude Giroux received All-NHL votes for Left Wing, Centre & Right Wing— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 21, 2018
Taylor Hall for Left Wing....and Centre pic.twitter.com/Mdmb1qMmUk
I’m more fascinated here by the two voters that had him down on the right wing. Giroux has played center his whole career prior to this year. While a full-time hockey writer should know where one of the league’s best players played this season, it would be at least somewhat understandable for one to erroneously place him in that spot on his or her ballot. Right wing, though? Fascinating.
Of course, even the people who voted for him at center don’t have that much of an excuse, since the PHWA apparently specified beforehand on each player’s position, including Giroux’s:
The PHWA sent out a rather extensive position clarification list before the voting and specifically mentioned that Giroux was a LW. This just shows nine people don't read emails. https://t.co/P46FmySDUd— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) June 21, 2018
This has been an issue before, most notably in 2013 when Alex Ovechkin was named a first-team left wing and a second-team right wing. Hence why the PHWA now sends out that list each year that at least a few of its voters seem to ignore, since knowing where the best players in the league play hockey is apparently a tall task.
Oh well. Giroux’s struggled to get respect for his entire career. Why would we think it’d start now?