Thursday, May 11, 2006


Alexander Ovechkin: Not a Rookie?

IIHF Talking Head and leader of the anti-NHL brigade, Szymon Szemberg ,makes the case that Alexander Ovechkin shouldn't be considered a rookie, and that Sidney Crosby ought to win the Calder by default...

O RLY!?!

From the article:

Imagine the following scenario: giant Ottawa and Team Slovakia defenseman Zdeno Chara, who played his first season in Sweden last year, wins the Swedish Elitserien rookie-of-the-year award. Or let's say Joe Thornton, who spent the entire lockout season with HC Davos in Switzerland, outscores all the native 19- and 20-year olds to grab the Swiss Nationalliga A rookie-of-the-year honors.

This, of course, didn’t happen, since neither Chara nor Thornton was eligible. The rookie awards should be for true rookies, players who play in their first year of major league professional hockey after spending time in junior or developmental leagues. Incidentally, how would North American hockey fans react if the Swedish or Swiss league had announced that a seasoned NHLer had been received the rookie-of-the-year trophy? They would probably have laughed.

This is what many Russian hockey fans are doing as well with Ovechkin and his race with Sidney Crosby for the Calder Memorial Trophy
Well, Szymon, the NHL is not the Swiss Nationalliga or the Swedish Meatballserien. The awards in the NHL are based on much different criteria than than smaller European leagues. While the NHL has the best of the best, your little leagues simply don't. Get over the jealousy. If the Swedish league doesn't want to award Rookie-of-the-Year to players with NHL experience, that's their perogative.

Two fundamental issues are important here:

1. The unfairness of comparing Crosby to Ovechkin in order to determine the winner of the NHL’s rookie award.

2. The general misconception of the North American hockey establishment that goes something like this: “You haven’t played pro hockey until you have played in the NHL."
1. The more 'unfair' component is that Alexander Ovechkin is 2 years older than Crosby, and has 2 years more of hockey experience at ANY level and 2 years more of physical development. Age is far more of an important factor when comparing players so young.

2. Let's look at the REAL definition of the Calder Trophy:
The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.

That's right, it says first year of competition in the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE. It does not say first year of PRO hockey, or first year out of junior hockey, or first year playing the bongo drums. The award ignores all previous NON-NHL experience because it is awarding based on the most fair-for-all criteria possible. It would not be fair to simply disqualify Ovechkin for having played in the senior Russian league or disqualify any player who has played in the AHL. You would bring so much subjection into the award process that the award would lose most of its meaning.

Where do we draw the line? The French league? The Polish league? Why would those leagues be included with the Russian and Czech leagues when the quality of play is so poor?

If you want to get technical, how about this... The CHL actually pays its player a 'per-diem'...cold hard cash. The NCAA considers juniors from the CHL to be 'pro' simply because they actually do get some (albeit) little money to play hockey. So, Sidney Crosby was already a 'pro' before he ever reached the NHL, if you look at it from a certain point of view.

The Calder Trophy is not an award for making the leap to pro hockey. By the definition, it's all about the first year in the NHL. Nothing less, nothing more.

By the true definition, Ovechkin is a rookie just as is the veteran minor-league who makes his NHL debut at age 26.

Get over it.

Too late now. Why didnt they say anything when the season started? I hate these guys who see something happen then try to make news. The IIHF have gone ga-ga over Crosby but this is an NHL award. Stay out of it!
They would have a stronger argument claiming that players who have played for years in Japan should not be considered for Rookie of the Year awards in major league baseball. Players in Japan are clearly professional, and a very high calibre as well. There are so many pro and pro-ish leagues in hockey that splitting hairs would be insanely difficult.
Consider the strange case of Wayne Gretzky. Not eligible for the Calder because of previous pro hockey experience.

Sergei Makarov though - 32 year old Calder trophy winner...

Of course Gretzky should have won the damned thing, and so should Alexander Ovechkin
Of course, there are some limitations now -- i.e., the Makarov rule that only players under 27 years of age qualify.
2. Let's look at the REAL definition of the Calder Trophy:
The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.

It's too bad the NHL somehow overlooked this when Gretzky broke into the NHL.


The League also decided that Gretzky would not be eligible for the Calder Trophy as the League’s rookie of the year. Since Gretzky played major pro hockey in the World Hockey Association the season before, the Legaue decided that he was not a rookie. Instead, the Calder was given to Ray Bourque, the Boston Bruins’ standout defenceman.

- Duc
According to Wikipedia's entry on Gretzky, the rules on Calder eligibility were changed after Gretzky's rookie year.
It's Duc, the defender of the WHA :)

The whole thing was quite political, since the WHA 'hurt' the NHL. The WHA was certainly a very good pro league, but Gretzky had everything happen well for him in life. It's kind of neat to see that there is something he could never get.
Somebody bought me a beer after a pickup game. Damn, there goes my Calder.

Someone (I think it was on XM Radio) said early in the season the Crosby would win because he speaks english, and it's more important to the league for him to win.

That is truely dumb.
"because we know the Oilers don't have a chance in hell. You know it. I know it. Your dog knows it."

Um, Jes, you know we love you, but as an Oilers fan I cordially invite you to LICK MY BALLS.

It's sad when every Canucks fan and his grandmother's dog is resorting to cheering for the Ducks to be DIFFERENT, but the sad matter at hand is that the Oilers aren't nearly as bad as you want to think, no matter how much you want to hate Kevin Lowe. I'm not enamoured with the guy, but he certainly made Nonis look more Doug MacLean-ish than anything.
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