Well, that’s always fun.
As expected, there was no shortage of discussion after last week’s Hobey Watch Blog entry, in which we got into the ever-controversial character component of the award. We all have our opinions and we all had an opportunity to voice them over the past couple of weeks. However, it’s time to table the character discussion for the time being and get into other aspects of the award. As we move on, I find myself looking back at just how we got onto character in the first place.
My initial comments on how the character issue would apply to North Dakota forward Corban Knight came at the end of a lengthy analysis of the UND coaching staff’s decision to nominate only Knight for the award rather than nominate both Knight and Danny Kristo. At the time, I thought it was a smart move on UND’s part, as one candidate has a much better chance of standing up against Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau than two (and yes, Gaudreau is still the leading candidate). Lately, though, I’m not so sure.
Part of it, of course, is that Kristo has the better points-per-game average (by a mere hundredth of a point, but still), and the North Dakota team lead in goals (and remember, kids, “Hobey Loves Goals”). The other part of it, however, lies on the other side of the college hockey landscape, in the North Country of upstate New York, where St. Lawrence junior Greg Carey is the Kristo to teammate Kyle Flanagan’s Knight.
As of this writing, the second-best points-per-game average in college hockey (1.50) and the best goal total (20) both belong to Carey, putting him firmly in the discussion for a spot among the top 10 Hobey finalists and maybe even a spot in the Hobey Hat Trick (SLU’s status as a middle-of-the-pack team in ECAC Hockey works against him as a serious candidate for the award itself). However, if you want to throw your support behind Carey in the online fan balloting, you’re out of luck because Flanagan is the Saints’ lone nominee.
I reached out to a friend in the region familiar with the program who immediately pointed out why Flanagan was the more attractive candidate from SLU’s perspective: He’s a senior and a Canton native, the nephew of former Saints women’s coach Paul Flanagan (now at Syracuse), and at the time of the nomination he was the more prolific scorer. All laudable qualities to be sure and to be fair, he’s the nation’s No. 3 scorer at 1.41 points per game (13-25–38 in 27 games). That said, Carey deserves to be in the conversation, not necessarily for the Hobey itself but to be a finalist or Hat Trick honoree. With the Oscars coming up next weekend, it’s worth remembering that sometimes “the nomination is the win,” and Carey should be in the running for that kind of win.
And he may yet be. I checked in this week with North Dakota sports information director Jayson Hajdu, who reminded me that 2007 Hobey winner Ryan Duncan wasn’t one of North Dakota’s nominees when fan balloting started that season (cue the renewed hand-wringing over that year’s voting). That’s worth remembering as we consider the likes of Carey and Kristo.
In the end, it may be that the use of school nominees and the absence of a write-in vote simply may serve to eliminate situations like the great Danny King campaign of 2006 (which I have to admit was great fun, especially after having met and interviewed the Denver third-string goalie after his lone NCAA appearance the following season). If that’s the case, then a word or two from North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol or Saints coach Greg Carvel will be all it takes to get Kristo or Carey back into the conversation.
Of course, we won’t know about that until March.