Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Need For A New Cup

Today, we got the "surprise" news that Carey Price will be receiving the Molson Cup for the second consecutive time. It was even less of a surprise this year, because of the new system of voting.

Carey Price is very much deserving of the Award from November, and he'd have won it with any form of voting and tabulation. I have no issue with the award going to him this month, this year (he's probably got enough votes in the bank already with the new voting system!).

I do, however, take issue with the Molson Cup as a whole.
In reality, the award might as well be given on the basis of a vote on the final day of the season:

"Who should win the Cup? The goalie or the leading point getter?"

Cynical? Only because it's true.

Since Wikipedia records begin on this award, it has been given to 37 different Canadiens. 37 chances to honour the player of the year. In that time, the award has been given 16 times to a goalie and 20 times to a forward. 13 times the forward was the high scorer, 2 times the top goalscorer, 3 times second in scoring.

Habs Molson Cup 1973-2010 - http://sheet.zoho.com

There were a total of 2 forwards who weren't at the very top, and a single defenceman honoured from a list of alumni that includes the Big Three (Robinson, Savard and Lapointe), Langway, Chelios and now Markov.

Around the Canadian teams, it's been largely the same story.

League Molson Cups 1973-2010 - http://sheet.zoho.com

122 times a forward (85 high scorers, 10 high goal-getters, 15 second scorers), 78 times a goalie and a measly 7 times for defencemen. This group now includes guys like Housley, MacInnis, Coffey and Salming (he actually accounts for the majority of those), etc.

The age of the goaltender

Since the age of the goaltender began (I put this at around 1994), the stats are even more skewed. There's a single defenceman from across 6 teams with a Molson Cup (Kaberle last year) and 50 goalies.

League Molson Cups 1994-2010 - http://sheet.zoho.com

The Habs are even more goalie happy (I think we knew that), and for them it's been 11 goalies in 16 chances to give the award. Sure Patrick Roy got it twice in there, but so did Hackett, Huet and price even in so-so years.

Habs Molson Cup 1994-2010 - http://sheet.zoho.com

Does this seem right?

I thought there was a reasonably good premise making the rounds that one built a team with defence. Give me a good defenceman and I'll give you a solid team for years.

When we talk about the 1970s dynasty, The Big Three are rarely omitted from conversation. When the 1980s come up, we probably look to Robinson and Chelios rather than Tremblay and Penney.

Yet, the Molson Cup as an award is almost completely unavailable to defencemen because of the way the stars are chosen.

It's easy to see how it happens. Not paying attention? need to get those stars in? Who scored? Who got more than 1 point? Does the goalie have a save percentage over 0.900?

Over a season, it's even easier. The goalie plays 60 minutes of each game, it's his star to lose it seems. A player scores, and it's almost certain it's an important goal. But a good defensive effort? Well that's nice, but we'll put that on file for a later time. Rinse, repeat.

I know the players probably don't put much stock in an award they know to be faulty. I know they still think Markov was their best player last season and the one before that, even though there are other names on the Molson Cup. Yet it seems a shame then that the only trophy publicly honouring a "player of the year" is this one.

That's why I ask whether there should be another trophy to award to the player who was the team's most valuable for the year. Perhaps not to replace the Molson Cup and the "wonderful" fan experience we get from paying Bell for the privelege to vote, perhaps to complement it.

At this point, Price would win the new one too, but at least he couldn't be doubted for simply winning an award by virtue of being a goaltender.

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