In the post-All-Star portion of the NHL schedule, Tim Thomas continues to lead the league in three of the major statistical departments for goaltenders with at least one number that’s on pace to set an all-time record.
However, those achievements still don’t seem enough to get some writers to even consider him for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. Ed Willes of The Province is one such veteran scribe that scoffs at the notion of a goaltender winning the Hart.
In making a solid, and valid, case for Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler as the Hart favorite last week, Willes went through a brief list of other candidates, including Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (if he gets healthy). When it came time to consider Thomas, Willes had this to say:
Boston goalie Tim Thomas is also in the mix but, sorry, we refuse to acknowledge a goalie as the league’s MVP in the post-lockout NHL.
And there you have it folks, reason No. 1 why Thomas’ chances at winning the Hart are snowball-in-hell slim. Unfortunately, there are enough other writers who take a similar stance as Willes every year. And frankly, I’m not even sure what his argument means.
A goalie in the post-lockout NHL can’t be the MVP? As I wrote last week during All-Star Weekend, Thomas is carrying a save percentage of .945, which would shatter the previous single-season record held by Dominik Hasek (.936). His goals-against average of 1.80 is on pace to be the lowest since the lockout. To me, it would figure that a goaltender, who also shares the league lead with seven shutouts in addition to putting up record-breaking numbers in the post-lockout NHL is a better candidate than any puck-stopper before the lockout.
Since the lockout, the league has made the goaltender’s equipment smaller, restricted their ability to handle the puck and, most importantly, opened up the game with enforcement of restraining penalties — a move that has increased scoring. If those factors don’t make Thomas’ accomplishments more extraordinary and Hart-worthy, then maybe the Bruins goaltender also needs to score some goals himself or singlehandedly land the league a billion-dollar American national TV contract in order to prove to some that he’s the most valuable player in the National Hockey League.
It seems that no matter what Thomas accomplishes, there’s always going to be someone counting him out. Luckily for the Bruins, that always seems to work in their favor as a motivating tool that keeps Thomas striving to get better and better.