When a PHWA member sits down to vote on awards, one has to wonder what the criteria are that they are looking for. Every writer cannot watch every game, cannot see every play a player made all season, and has to find something that will narrow the field. Rarely does an NHL award go to the most deserving player.
The Norris goes to the guy with the most points, the Hart goes to Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, the Calder goes to which ever rookie is in the most highlight reels, and the Masterton goes to whichever player tried to end the most careers in his time, but then felt really bad about it later.
It's the circle of life.
What the criteria are, we may never know, for as much as some of the most vocal members of the PHWA complain about anonymity on the internet, very few of them are willing to disclose their votes, let alone justify their reasons. We all make great choices when we don't need to defend them.
I follow a number of the PHWA writers. Not one has justified leaving Brodin off their ballot. Several have asked how others would. There have been no answers as of yet. We likely won't see any. Which is fine, but any singular member of the PHWA unwilling to publish their ballots and defend them (not necessarily to every single idiot on Twitter, but at least give a reason in an article or post) needs to hand in their "Oh, you're such an internet tough guy" card.
There are a few people who tell me this doesn't matter, that I'm tilting at windmills and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't rightly concern anyone. I agree 100%. Didn't see that coming did you?
They are right. It doesn't matter. Nick at Hitting the Post reminds us that childhood obesity is a real issue. I would counter with childhood obesity is a direct result of poor parenting, which is the real issue. Guess what, though? I don't write about real world issues. I have in the past, but only when they cross my little escape from those issues.
This isn't about if hockey is important enough to warrant getting upset about. It isn't, really. Now, ask the folks in Buffalo if Brett Hull's skate was in the crease. Are their kids going to go hungry because of a blown call? Nope. Are they still pissed off about it? Sure are.
It won't change a single Wild fan's opinion on Brodin. He is still the best rookie on the ice this season, and anyone who has watched him play knows it. He is going to be a rock for this team for the next 20 years, and having the Calder trophy makes no difference to that. In fact, maybe it keeps his price down ever so slightly in the next contract negotiation.
This isn't about Brodin, his ability, or what he should or should not win.
This is about yet another broken system surrounding the game we love. The NHL Department of Player Safety Jokes has no concern for player safety. The PHWA blows the awards every year. Almost as bad as the DPSJ. Almost. The question here is, do we just ignore it? Let it continue without saying a word?
Why? Because "hockey doesn't matter?" If you're reading this site, I think we both know that isn't true.
There are things that matter inside the game. If you get upset and think Mikko Koivu should lose the C, you've gone off the deep end. If you ask your favorite PHWA member to justify their vote on major awards, it seems a reasonable thing to do. If they refuse, take whatever action you so choose. They shouldn't be afraid to give a reason to their audience.
It all comes down to which PHWA chapters have more votes, and which players the writers watch more than others. You can call it "east coast bias," but what it really is... is lazy journalism. If you're OK with lazy journalism, that's fine. I'm not, and I never have been. Many have lectured me about righteous indignation, including some today. If we are not indignant about things that are righteous, than why bother?
I'm not screaming at you to cancel your subscription, stop watching hockey, or demand these writers be fired. However, you are their audience. You should be questioning what they are feeding you. They blew this one. They will blow it again. Until they have to justify themselves and stop hiding behind their anonymity in voting.
It's also time for larger chapters to lose their sway over voting. One vote per chapter. But that is another debate entirely.
Brodin got hosed by a terrible system. There are too many terrible systems in our game, and this one is the easiest to fix. Fix it.