Face Off: Week 3

Welcome to U.S. College Hockey Online’s roundtable discussion. Each week, various members of our staff take on a hockey topic. Sometimes serious, sometimes silly — but either way, watch the feathers fly: no punches will be pulled, and no quarter given, when these people face off.

Who will — or Should — Win the Hobey Baker Award This Year?

Tim Brule, USCHO Coordinator: Who should win the Hobey Baker this year? The French connection. Yes, both Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin, two guys who have been lacing ’em up since middle school together. I have only had one chance to see them play live, at last year’s NCAA Frozen Four, on the slurpee the folks in Cincinnati called ice. But they made a huge impression on me.

Take a look at last year’s numbers…

     GP G A PTS
Eric Perrin 38 29 56 85
Martin St. Louis 35 29 56 85

…and you can see why it’s hard to distinguish between the two. They feed off each other, like no other college hockey tandem in recent memory.

Who will win the Hobey Baker? Brendan Morrison of Michigan. Why, he played like a man possessed in the NCAA Tournament with a broken forearm, which has immortalized the man amongst media types. My big knock against him is his health. If he stays healthy, he puts up astonishing numbers. But last year he missed eight games, and when your team only plays 36 regular-season games, this is something to worry about.

Deron Treadwell, News Editor: It’s hard to say who should win, especially early in the season when any selection is bound to be influenced by exposure and grounded in simple guesswork.

So much can happen after Christmas that could decide the Hobey. A top contender could get injured, or a dark horse could only push himself into the limelight. It makes the game of picking a top-contender much like journalistic Russian Roulette.

Let’s spin …

If you look at the Hobey Baker as an individual award, then I think your leader has to be Chris Drury from Boston University. Last season Drury was a Hobey finalist, but overshadowed by teammate Jay Pandolfo, despite being neck-and-neck scoring-wise all season long.

The Terriers aren’t loaded with the same kind of talent they have had in the past and Drury is the cream of the crop. He’s carrying this team right now, and leading Hockey East in scoring. His numbers may not be as impressive nationally as others, but at the same time he isn’t blessed with a deep supporting class either to help pad those stats.

It’s hard to argue against guys like John Madden and Brendan Morrison of Michigan for the Hobey. Morrison has been especially impressive the last two seasons, despite being injured for a stretch both years. Madden is really turning it up this year, and had a six-assist night Dec. 7.

But these guys play on a very deep team, with three or four lines that can score goals and create offense. Boston University doesn’t have that this season, and that is what makes what Drury is doing so much more impressive.

Lee Urton, Media Relations: Even if the Selection Committee passed a special amendment allowing for St. Louis and Perrin to be nominated jointly, there is still another guy in Burlington who may split the vote.

Brendan Morrison is an exceptional player, but his team doesn’t need him to be. This year, he is about third or fourth on an incredible team. Despite an outstanding career, the Hobey doesn’t belong here.

A defenseman hasn’t won the Hobey since 1984, and only two have ever won it. They are not flashy enough. But in my mind, Mike Crowley may very well be the best player in the nation.

Should win: Mike Crowley, Jr., D, Minnesota Will win: Brendan Morrison, Sr., C, Michigan

Dave Hendrickson, Hockey East Correspondent: I’m going to be a total sleazeball and pick two players on my ballot, Tim Thomas and Chris Drury. This may be a case of indecisiveness — but maybe not.

Thomas dominates games like no other netminder in the East. Not only does he make the spectacular saves, he also intimidates shooters, who become convinced that they must be perfect to beat him, and miss entirely. Thomas may lead the universe in turning opponents’ scoring opportunities into shots wide of goal. Although you have to go back to 1988 to find the last time a goaltender won the award (Robb Stauber), this may be the year to repeat that honor.

The Chris Drury Scoring Machine can’t be stopped. Still only a junior, he leads the country with 16 goals; no padded stats with cheap assists here. And even when he piles up the helpers, like he did in one five-point game against Providence, he really is doing most of the work. If he does win the Hobey, there will be no legends about him being awarded assists while sitting on the bench.

My apologies to all the West candidates, especially Brendan Morrison, who I expect will win it. I just haven’t seen these players enough, if at all, to include them on my ballot. Then again, maybe I could split my vote 10 ways …