Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wisconsins's Hobey Baker Chances

As the season progresses, the more and more talk there will be about the prospective 2010 Hobey Baker candidates. In my opinion the Hobey is a bit harder to judge than it's counterpart the Heisman trophy. The lack of television and publicity in the sport makes voting a very in-exact science.

Outstanding college hockey writer Elliot Olshansky has a piece out briefly identifying some of the favorites to contend for this seasons Hobey Baker. His focus in the piece is how many of the candidates are also flanked by another candidate from their own team.

Olshansky spends a good amount of time in the article talking about the chances a Wisconsin Badger could win the award.
"Perhaps the only easy group to pick a player out of is the crew from Wiscsonsin. Yes, (Derek) Stepan has been on a roll since returning from the World Junior Championship, with seven points in four games, to say nothing of (Michael) Davies, whose seven-game point streak has seen him score six goals and notch nine assists. (Brendan) Smith, however, remains the most remarkable of the bunch. His 1.30 points per game average is just a hair off of Matt Carle’s 1.36 clip during his Hobey Baker season, and that was accomplished on a team that didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Think Smith can make a run at the Hobey on a team that’s currently No. 2 in the nation? Also, he’s the only of the Badgers’ potential Hobey candidates whose goal total wouldn’t be an issue."
So basically Olshansky has identified Brendan Smith, Derek Stepan, and Michael Davies as the three Badger candidates for the Hobey, with Smith having the best shot out of the bunch.

I don't necessarily have a problem with the players he has identified, but to name those three and leave off senior captain Blake Geoffrion is a severe injustice in my humble opinion. Geoffrion is not far off of the other three in point totals and he has the added duties of being the leader of the number two team in the country. He is also third in the country in goals scored.

I think the biggest thing that makes me shake my head is the fact that national media outlets are pegging Brendan Smith as one of, if not the favorite to win the award. Inside College Hockey last week released their first installment of the Hobey Tracker and list Smith as one of the top 3 current candidates. Olshansky pegged Smith as his favorite to win the award, "Overall, while his scoring has faded a tad in recent weeks, Smith has the look of a Hobey winner more than anyone else in the race at the moment."

Really? The problem I have is that Smith is not the best player at his position on his own team, let alone the top player in the entire country. And this is no knock on Smith. He absolutely deserves the recognition and deserves to be talked about in the race, but Ryan McDonagh is a much more sound hockey player at this point. And that is the current problem with the Hobey Baker. Columnists and voters simply base voting on point totals without ever seeing a player play.

To be honest, I don't see any Badger winning the award this season. We have four outstanding candidates but we don't have the one outstanding player like we did when Elliott and Reinprecht were finalists. But I think if you ask any of the players I've mentioned, they would all agree that the goal is the National Title, not the Hobey Baker. The gentlemen that we have in our locker room have their eyes on the real prize.