What were they looking at?
I’m talking about my fellow Professional Hockey Writers Association brethren who somehow managed to leave the Flyers’ Claude Giroux off their top three finalists for the NHL’s Hart Trophy (most valuable player).
No disrespect to New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar or Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, but you could make a case that Giroux is more worthy than any of them.
Did any of the voters dig deep enough to learn that Giroux scored 19 goals in the Flyers’ final 29 games of the season, when they virtually needed every point they got just to get into the playoffs by a whisker?
Or that he produced eight goals in his final five games, including a hat trick in the do-or-die 5-0 win over the Rangers in the season finale?
How about the fact that he led the entire NHL in assists with 68? That he set up center Sean Couturier night after night, resulting in No. 14 more than doubling his career-best in goals (31)?
Then there was Giroux’s faceoff percentage: He played left wing yet took most of the draws for his line and finished with the NHL’s third-highest percentage (58.6 percent) for those taking more than 1,000 draws.
His career-best 102 points (just the sixth Flyer in team history – joining Bob Clarke, Bill Barber, Rick MacLeish, Mark Recchi and Eric Lindros – in the triple-digit club) were good for second in the NHL, trailing only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (108), whose team finished well out of playoff contention.
By the way, that 102-point performance was higher than MacKinnon’s 97, Hall’s 92 or Kopitar’s 92.
Giroux’s plus-28 eclipsed Kopitar’s 21, Hall’s 14 and MacKinnon’s 11.
Giroux and Kopitar played in all 82 games, while MacKinnon played in only 74 and Hall in 76.
Giroux’s 17.6 better than all three.
So why did this happen? Why was Giroux ignored?
Maybe because – and stop us if this has a bit of a conspiracy ring to it – there seems to be a little bit of a bias by national scribes when it comes to the Flyers, and specifically Giroux.
Remember when Giroux put up a then-career best 93 points in 2012 and was left off the Hart ballot?
Oddly enough, two years later, he was put on the ballot with seven fewer points and other numbers which weren’t as good.
And the disrespect seems to go beyond just the thoughts of journalists.
In 2014, Giroux, who was in the midst of a six-year stretch in which he led the entire NHL in points (hear that, Sid and Alex?), was left off the Canada team for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
He claimed it didn’t bother him but one look into his eyes told you that really wasn’t so.
You know, if Giroux stays healthy (he’s only missed 10 games out of a possible 748), he’s on track to becoming a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
At age 30, he already has 677 career points and over the next few years will likely pass Barber and Brian Propp to move into second on the team’s all-time scoring list.
Giroux probably will get to the 1,000-point mark and there are plenty of stars already in the Hall of Fame who didn’t get close to that four-digit club, namely Lindros, Barber, Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya and Clark Gillies.
Maybe if Giroux winds up in that shrine in Toronto, people will nod their heads and say, “hey, you know what, that guy was pretty good.’’
In the meantime, it looks like a case of many people simply either not paying attention or not knowing any better.