Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kane, Toews, or the other guy…………2008 Calder Memorial Trophy Winner?

To begin with, why name the trophy after some guy named Calder?

Who is Calder? On the other side of the pond, Bristol England to be exact, Frank Calder was born in November of 1877. As the story goes, he flipped a coin when making the all important decision whether he should immigrate to Canada or the U.S. This fateful Canadian flip of the coin, paved the future direction for the young Calder.

After a short stint at a private school in Montreal, Frank Calder changed gears and became a sportswriter with the Montreal Witness and later the sports editor of the Montreal Herald & Daily Telegraph. It was at these positions where Calder’s drive and stern authority began to leave its mark.

At the Herald, he moved on to the financial editor's chair which covered what was then Canada's largest market, the Montreal Stock Exchange. Even in this financial sector, he kept his eye and heart on sports, creating the Montreal School Ruby League and was secretary of a soccer league.

All those positions paved a path to the NHL for Calder. While he originally was appointed secretary-treasurer of the National Hockey Association, he ultimately became the first NHL president in 1917.

He was instrumental in the suspension of the National Hockey Association and the founding of the NHL. He presided over the expansion of this league into the U.S.A., and the fending off of rivals to the NHL's status as the premier ice hockey league.

Which finally gets us to our point, why is the NHL’s Rookie of The Year trophy named after Mr. Calder and in the 2007-8 season who best exemplifies his traits?

Calder represented a burning desire to succeed and chart news paths for future success. Paving a direction for future greatness, represents what all professional rookies hope to achieve.

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. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.

From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, Frank Calder, NHL President, bought a trophy each year to be given permanently to the outstanding rookie. After Calder's death, the NHL presented the Calder Memorial Trophy in his memory and the trophy is to be kept in perpetuity.

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. The player must not be older than 26 years before September 15 of the season in which he is eligible

While their have been some anomalies that have forced the rules to change (Sergei Markov winning the tropyhy at age 31 even though he played professionally in Russia or Wayne Gretzky not winning the trophy in 1979-80 despite scoring 137 points due to the fact he played a full season in the World Hockey Association), the trophy stands for superior first year performance.

Three out of the last six winners were overall rookie point leaders (Malkin - 85, Ovechkin - 106, and Heatley - 67). The other three winners (Raycroft, Jackmen, and Nabokov) were all goalies or played defense.

Which leaves us with 2008’s three candidates: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom was not an overall point leader, defensemen or goalie. Therefore, he’s out.

While Toews is the best choice (offensive skills and character) he did miss 18 games (which did not stop him from scoring 24 goals to lead all rookies), which cost him productivity. Therefore, he too is out.

At the ripe old age of 19, Buffalo native Patrick Kane led all rookies with 72 points. Therefore, next month look for the NHL to name Patrick Kane as your 2007-08 Calder Trophy winner.