Reevaluating the Hart Part 5: Merger to First Lockout

In Part 5 of our series on Hart Trophy winners, we focus on the years between the merger of the WHA and NHL in 1979 to the first lockout in 1994.

Listen here:

1994 – Sergei Fedorov, C, Red Wings (4th by points, 2nd by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (1.6 PPG, 130P)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Sergei Fedorov (13.8 PS, 120P)
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • (by division) Sergei Fedorov [no MVS by division]
      • (by conference) Ray Bourque (13.5 PS, 91P)
    • MVF by OPS: Sergei Fedorov
    • MVD by PS: Ray Bourque (13.5 PS, 91P)
    • MVD by DPS: Scott Stevens (13.2 PS, 78P, +53)
  • MVG: Curtis Joseph (16.1 PS, 36-23-11, .911 SV%, 3.10 GAA, 37 GSAA, 1 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Rangers)
    • by Points: Sergei Zubov (89P, 12.5 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Brian Leetch (13.3 PS, 79P)
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Red Wings)
    • by Points: Sergei Fedorov
    • by OPS: Sergei Fedorov
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Sabres, by 2 goals)
    • (skater) by PS: Richard Smehlik (9.4 PS, 41P, +22)
    • by DPS: Richard Smehlik
    • by GPS: Dominik Hasek (13.1 PS, 30-20-6, .930 SV%, 1.95 GAA, 54 GSAA, 7 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Sergei Fedorov
  • Norris: Ray Bourque
  • Selke: Sergei Fedorov
  • Vezina: Dominik Hasek
  • Jennings:
    • Grant Fuhr (12-12-3, .883 SV%, 3.69 GAA, -11 GSAA, 2 SO, 3.9 PS)
    • Dominik Hasek

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartTL
BureCanucks7660471074612.30.790.621.410.610.1612thNo
FedorovRed Wings8256641204813.80.680.781.460.590.17YesYes
GretzkyKings8138921304611.10.471.141.600.570.14NoNo
LeetchRangers842356792813.30.270.670.940.330.16NoNo
NeelyBruins49502474349.61.020.491.510.690.209thNo
ZubovRangers781277892812.50.150.991.140.360.16NoNo

Some of the black ink depends upon whether or not you accept Neely as eligible for leaderboards.

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Fedorov: 31 1st place votes, 71.85% of total vote points
  2. Hasek: 6 1st place votes, 31.85% of total vote points
  3. John Vanbiesbrouck: 7 1st place votes, 27.41% of total vote points
  4. Doug Gilmour: 4 1st place votes, 18.52% of total vote points
  5. Patrick Roy: 3 1st place votes, 9.63% of total vote points

Others with first place votes:

  • Bourque: 2 1st place votes, 6.67% of total vote points
  • Stevens: 1 1st place vote, 4.81% of total vote points

Nobody wanted to vote for Gretzky – he didn’t get a vote – whose team missed the playoffs, but nobody was sure who to vote for. So they went for the second leading scorer who happened to be the best player on the best offensive team.

Verdict:

A tinge of controversy.

1993 – Mario Lemieux (2), C, Penguins (1st)

  • Best Player by PPG: Mario Lemieux (2.67 PPG, 160P)
  • Art Ross: Mario Lemieux
  • MVS by PS: Mario Lemieux (16.8 PS)
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Kevin Hatcher (10.6 PS, 79P)
    • MVF by OPS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVD by PS: Larry Murphy (12.4 PS, 85P)
    • MVD by DPS: Don Sweeney (7.7 PS, 34P, +34)
  • MVG: Curtis Joseph (16.2 PS, 29-28-9, .911 SV%, 3.02 GAA, 57 GSAA, 1 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Penguins)
    • by Points: Mario Lemieux
    • by MVS by PS: Mario Lemieux
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Red Wings, by 2 goals)
    • by Points: Steve Yzerman (137P, 13 PS)
    • by OPS: Steve Yzerman
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Blackhawks)
    • (skater) by PS: Chris Chelios (11.1 PS, 73P)
    • by DPS: Chris Chelios
    • by GPS: Ed Belfour (13 PS, 41-18-11, .906 SV%, 2.59 GAA, 39 GSAA, 7 SO))
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Mario Lemieux
  • Norris: Chris Chelios
  • Selke: Doug Gilmour (127P, +32, 11 PS)
  • Vezina: Ed Belfour
  • Jennings: Ed Belfour

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Lemieux: 49 1st place votes, 99.2% total vote points
  2. Gilmour: 0 first place votes; 39.6% total vote points
  3. Pat Lafontaine: 1 1st place vote, 20.8% of total vote points
  4. Adam Oates: 0 first place votes; 11.2% total vote points
  5. Pierre Turgeon: 0 first place votes; 4.8% total vote points

Lemieux was prevented from a clean sweep by a Buffalo homer.

Verdict:

Good

1992 – Mark Messier (2), C, Rangers (1st)

  • Best Player by PPG: Mario Lemieux (2.05 PPG, 131P, 12.4 PS)
  • Art Ross: Mario Lemieux
  • MVS by PS: Brian Leetch (13.2 PS, 102P)
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Mario Lemieux
    • MVF by PS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVF by OPS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVD by DPS: Chris Chelios (9.8 PS, 56P, +24)
  • MVG: Curtis Joseph (14 PS, 27-20-10, .910 SV%, 3.01 GAA, 43 GSAA, 2 SO))
  • Best Player on Best Team (Rangers)
    • by Points: Mark Messier
    • by MVS by PS: Brian Leetch
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Penguins)
    • by Points: Mario Lemieux
    • by OPS: Mario Lemieux
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Canadiens)
    • (skater) by PS: Eric Desjardins (7.7 PS, 38P)
    • by DPS
      • J.J. Daigneault (5.9 PS, 18P, +16)
      • Eric Desjardins
    • by GPS: Patrick Roy (13.5 PS, 36-22-8, .914 SV%, 2.36 GAA, 47 GSAA, 5 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Mark Messier
  • Norris: Brian Leetch
  • Selke: Guy Carbonneau (39P, +2, 2.8 PS)
  • Vezina: Patrick Roy
  • Jennings: Patrick Roy

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartLindsay
GretzkyKings743190121419.40.421.221.640.550.13NoNo
Hull, BrBlues7370391094811.90.960.531.490.660.163rdNo
LeetchRangers8022801023413.20.281.001.280.430.179thNo
LemieuxPenguins6444871314712.40.691.362.050.730.195thNo

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Messier: 67 1st place votes; 98.84% of possible vote points
  2. Roy: 1 1st place vote; 20.43% of possible vote points
  3. Brett Hull: 1 1st place vote; 14.2% of possible vote points.
  4. Kirk McLean: 0 first place votes; 10.72% total vote points
  5. Lemieux: 0 first place votes; 8.41% total vote points
  6. [tie for 5th] Jeremy Roenick: 0 first place votes; 8.41% total vote points

We wanted to rip into this as part of the stupid “Messier is the Greatest Leader in Hockey” narrative but this is actually a pretty good choice. 

Lemieux was the obvious one based upon the Gretzky precedent, but if you think it’s really about the Best Player on the Best team, it’s between Messier and Leetch. (We’d give it to Leetch but we think Messier is acceptable.)

Verdict:

Fine.

1991 – Brett Hull, RW, Blues (2nd in points, 4th in SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.09 PPG, 163P)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Brett Hull (15.4 PS, 131P)
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Brian Leetch (10.5 PS, 88P)
    • MVF by OPS: Brett Hull
    • MVD by PS: Al MacInnis (14.1 PS, 103P)
    • MVD by DPS: Chris Chelios (10.2 PS, 64P, +23)
  • MVG: Ed Belfour (14 PS, 43-19-7, .910 SV%, 2.47 GAA, 45 GSAA, 4 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Blackhawks)
    • by Points: Steve Larmer (101P, 10.6 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Steve Larmer
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Flames, by 2 goals)
    • by Points: Theo Fleury (104P, 11.2 PS)
    • by OPS: Theo Fleury
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Blackhawks)
    • (skater) by PS: Steve Larmer
    • by DPS: Chris Chelios
    • by GPS: Ed Belfour
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Brett Hull
  • Norris: Ray Bourque (94P, +33, 11.2 PS)
  • Selke: Dirk Graham (45P, +12, 3.8 PS)
  • Vezina: Ed Belfour
  • Jennings: Ed Belfour

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGamesGoalsAPointsGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartLindsay
GretzkyKings78411221635514.50.531.562.090.710.192ndNo
Hull, BrBlues7886451315815.41.100.581.680.740.20YesYes

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Hull: 44 1st place votes, 83.94% total vote points
  2. Gretzky: 20 1st place votes, 66.67% total vote points
  3. Belfour: 2 1st place votes, 19.09% total vote points
  4. Bourque: 0 first place votes; 4.55% total vote points
  5. Larmer: 0 first place votes; 1.52% total vote points
  6. [tie for 4th] Fleury: 0 first place votes; 1.52% total points

SRS paints the Kings as the best team in the league but, of course, nobody knew anything beyond team points in 1991. Gretzky should have won on the interpretation of “Best Player on the Best Team”, but they didn’t have the knowledge.

Verdict:

Controversial

Bill: 

Riley: 

1990 – Mark Messier, C, Oilers (5th)

  • Best Player by PPG: Mario Lemieux (2.08 PPG, 123P, 9.9 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky (142P, 1.95 PPG, 11.3 PS)
  • MVS by PS: Ray Bourque (12.5 PS, 84P)
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Kevin Hatcher (7.9 PS, 54P)
    • MVF by PS
      • Brett Hull (11.8 PS, 113P)
      • Steve Yzerman (11.8 PS, 127P)
    • MVF by OPS: Steve Yzerman
    • MVD by DPS: Ray Bourque (+31)
  • MVG: Patrick Roy (11.9 PS, 31-16-5, .912 SV%, 2.53 GAA, 47 GSAA, 3 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Bruins)
    • by Points: Cam Neely (92P, 9.4 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Ray Bourque
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Flames)
    • by Points: Joe Nieuwendyk (95P, 9 PS)
    • by OPS: Joe Nieuwendyk
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Bruins, by 2 goals)
    • (skater) by PS: Ray Bourque
    • by DPS: Ray Bourque
    • by GPS: Andy Moog (7.3 PS, 24-10-7, .983 SV%, 2.89 GAA, 14 GSAA, 3 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Mark Messier (129P, 11.3 PS)
  • Norris: Ray Bourque
  • Selke: Rick Meagher (25P, +4, 0.7 PS)
  • Vezina: Patrick Roy
  • Jennings:
    • Reggie Lemelin (22-15-2, .892 SV%, 2.80 GAA, 11 GSAA, 2 SO, 6.2 PS)
    • Andy Moog

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartTL
BourqueBruins761965842812.50.250.861.110.370.162ndNo
GretzkyKings73401021424911.30.551.401.950.670.154thNo
Hull, BrBlues8072411135111.80.900.511.410.640.153rdNo
LemieuxPenguins594578123449.90.761.322.080.750.17NoNo
MessierOilers7945841294711.30.571.061.630.590.14YesYes
YzermanRed Wings7962651275211.80.780.821.610.660.157thNo

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Messier: 29 1st place votes, 72.06% total vote points
  2. Bourque: 29 1st place votes, 71.43% total vote points
  3. Hull: 4 1st place votes, 25.4% total vote points
  4. Gretzky: 1 1st place vote, 5.08% total vote points
  5. Pat Lafontaine: 0 first place votes; 2.54% total vote points
  6. [tie for 5th] Roy: 0 first place votes; 2.54% total vote points

One of the tightest votes in history. 

Messier seems to be the choice a lot of people made because they felt like they couldn’t vote for Gretzky (Art Ross on a mediocre team) or Lemieux (more PPG on a worse team, missing a lot of games). 

Bourque seems like a good choice but he got fucked by the Hull voters, who ranked Hull 3rd way more than other people ranked Bourque 3rd.

It’s easy to think this is a good trophy, because of what happened in the playoffs, but this is a regular season award. 

Verdict:

Controversial.

1989 – Wayne Gretzky (9), C, Kings (4th in points, 3rd in SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Mario Lemieux (2.62 PPG, 199P, 19.6 PS)
  • Art Ross: Mario Lemieux
  • MVS by PS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • (by division) Doug Wilson (7.5 PS, 62P)
      • (by conference) Dave Gagner (6.9 PS,78P)
    • MVF by OPS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVD by PS: Chris Chelios (11.5 PS, 73P)
    • MVD by DPS: Chris Chelios (+35)
  • MVG: Ron Hextall (11.7 PS, 30-28-6, .891 SV%, 3.23 GAA, 22 GSAA, 0 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Flames)
    • by Points: Joe Mullen (110P, 11 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Al Macinnis (11.1 PS, 74P)
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Kings)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky (168P, 14.1 PS)
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Canadiens)
    • (skater) by PS: Chris Chelios
    • by DPS: Chris Chelios
    • by GPS: Patrick Roy (9.3 PS, 33-5-6, .908 SV%, 2.47 GAA, 35 GSAA, 4 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Steve Yzerman (155P, 14.4 PS)
  • Norris: Chris Chelios
  • Selke: Guy Carbonneau (56P, +37, 5 PS)
  • Vezina: Patrick Roy
  • Jennings:  
    • Brian Hayward  (20-13-3, .887 SV%, 2.90 GAA, 7 GSAA, 1 SO, 5.3 PS)
    • Patrick Roy

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartTL
GretzkyKings78541141686114.10.691.462.150.780.18YesNo
LemieuxPenguins76851141997719.61.121.502.621.010.262ndNo
YzermanRed Wings8065901556011.80.811.131.940.750.153rdYes

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 40 1st place votes, 84.76% voting total
  2. Lemieux: 18 1st place votes, 59.37% voting total
  3. Yzerman: 5 1st place votes, 34.6% voting total
  4. Roy: 0 first place votes; 0.63% total vote points
  5. Joe Mullen: 0 first place votes; 0.32% total vote points
  6. [tie for 5th] Chelios: 0 first place votes; 0.32% total vote points

This sure makes it feel as though they got 1988 and 1989 flipped around.

Verdict:

Controversial.

1988 – Mario Lemieux, C, Penguins (12th by points, 9th by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.33 PPG, 149P, 12.8 PS)
  • Art Ross: Mario Lemieux (168P, 16.2 PS)
  • MVS by PS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Pat LaFontaine (8.6 PS, 92P)
    • MVF by OPS: Mario Lemieux
    • MVD by PS: Ray Bourque (11.7 PS, 81P)
    • MVD by DPS: Petr Svoboda (7.4 PS, 29P, +46)
  • MVG: Grant Fuhr (11.3 PS, 40-24-9, .881 SV%, 3.43 GAA, 2 GSAA, 4 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Flames)
    • by Points: Hakan Loob (106P, 10.1 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Gary Suter (11.1 PS, 91P)
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Flames)
    • by Points: Hakan Loob
    • by OPS: Hakan Loob
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Canadiens)
    • (skater) by PS: Chris Chelios (9 PS, 61P)
    • by DPS: Peter Svoboda
    • by GPS: Patrick Roy (8.7 PS, 23-12-9, .900 SV%, 2.90 GAA, 25 GSAA, 3 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Mario Lemieux
  • Norris: Ray Bourque
  • Selke: Guy Carbonneau (38P, +14, 2.4 PS)
  • Vezina: Grant Fuhr
  • Jennings:
    • Brian Hayward (22-10-4, .896 SV%, 2.86 GAA, 17 GSAA, 2 SO, 6.9 PS)
    • Patrick Roy

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartTL
GretzkyOilers64401091495112.80.631.702.330.800.203rdNo
LemieuxPenguins7770981686616.20.911.272.180.860.21YesYes

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Lemieux: 54 1st place, 92.7% total
  2. Fuhr: 4 1st place, 33.65% total
  3. Gretzky: 2 1st place, 23.17% total
  4. Steve Yzerman: 3 1st place, 20.32% total
  5. Denis Savard: 0 first place votes; 6.67% total vote points

At this point it feels like the writers have really committed to the “Best Forward” concept of the Hart Trophy. The Penguins were not great but enough people seem to have been able to talk themselves into Lemieux being better than Gretzky this season in part because they refused to vote for Loob – he got zero votes for some insane reason. 

There’s some serious Gretzky fatigue here plus the problem that the Oilers were no longer the best team and Gretzky missed a (relative) ton of games.

Verdict:

Slightly controversial.

1987 – Wayne Gretzky (8), C, Oilers (1st)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.32 PPG, 183P, 17.6 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • (by division) Doug Gilmour (8.9 PS, 105P)
      • (by conference) Ray Bourque (13.6 PS, 95P)
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Ray Bourque
    • MVD by DPS: Mark Howe (10.5 PS, 58P, +57)
  • MVG: Ron Hextall (13.8 PS, 37-21-6, .902 SV%, 3.01 GAA, 42 GSAA, 1 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Canadiens)
    • (skater) by PS: Larry Robinson (9 PS, 50P)
    • by DPS: Larry Robinson (+24)
    • by GPS: Patrick Roy (7.7 PS, 22-16-6, .891 SV%, 2.94 GAA, 14 GSAA, 1 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Wayne Gretzky
  • Norris: Ray Bourque
  • Selke: Dave Poulin (70P, +47, 6.3 PS)
  • Vezina: Ron Hextall
  • Jennings
    • Brian Hayward (19-13-4, .893 SV%, 2.82 GAA, 13 GSAA, 1 SO, 6.2 PS)
    • Patrick Roy

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 49 1st place, 94.44% total
  2. Ray Bourque: 2 1st place, 35.19% total
  3. Mike Liut: 1 1st place, 14.44% total
  4. Mario Lemieux: 2 1st place, 12.59% total
  5. Doug Gilmour: 0 first place votes; 11.11% total vote points

Verdict

Good

1986 – Wayne Gretzky (7), C, Oilers (1st)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.69 PPG, 215P [record], 17 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Larry Robinson (11.3 PS, 82P)
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Paul Coffey (16.1 PS, 138P)
    • MVD by DPS: Brad McCrimmon (12 PS, 56P, +86)
  • MVG: Don Beaupre (11.1 PS, 25-20-6, .892 SV%, 3.57 GAA, 31 GSAA, 1 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Flyers)
    • (skater) by PS: Mark Howe (14.5 PS, 82P)
    • by DPS: Brad McCrimmon
    • by GPS: Bob Froese (9.9 PS, 31-10-3, .909 SV%, 2.56 GAA, 44 GSAA, 5 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Mario Lemieux (141P, 10.9 PS)
  • Norris: Paul Coffey
  • Selke: Troy Murray (99P, +32, 8.5 PS)
  • Vezina: John Vanbiesbrouck (31-21-.887 SV%, 3.33 GAA, 20 GSAA, 3 SO)
  • Jennings:
    • Bob Froese
    • Darren Jensen (15-9-1, .883 SV%, 3.69 GAA, 7 GSAA, 1 SO)

Sure.

That Lindsay is clearly a fatigue vote.

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 54 first place votes; 93.67% total vote points
  2. Lemieux: 4 first place votes; 54.33% total vote points
  3. Howe: 0 first place votes; 10.67% total vote points
  4. Coffey: 1 first place vote; 9.67% total vote points
  5. Vanbiesbrouck: 1 first place vote; 5.33% total vote points

Verdict

Fine

1985 – Wayne Gretzky (6), C, Oilers (2nd by points, 1st by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.6 PPG, 208P, 19.6 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • (by division) Reijo Ruotsalainen (8.2 PS, 73P)
      • (by conference) John Ogrodnick (9 PS, 105P)
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Paul Coffey (14.8 PS, 121P)
    • MVD by DPS: Mike Ramsey (7.9 PS, 30P, +30)
  • MVG: Pelle Lindbergh (40-17-7, .899 SV%, 3.02 GAA, 47 GSAA, 2 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Flyers)
    • by Points: Tim Kerr (97P, 9.3 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Mark Howe (9.9 PS, 57P)
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Sabres)
    • (skater) by PS: Phil Housley (10.1 PS, 69P)
    • by DPS: Mike Ramsey
    • by GPS: Tom Barrasso (8.1 PS, 25-18-10, .887 SV%, 2.67 GAA, 16 GSAA, 5 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Wayne Gretzky
  • Norris: Paul Coffey (+57)
  • Selke: Craig Ramsey (33P, +17, 1.8 PS)
  • Vezina: Pelle Lindbergh
  • Jennings:
    • Tom Barrasso
    • Bob Sauve (13-10-3, .855 SV%, 3.23 GAA, -11 GSAA, 0 SO)

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 60 1st place votes, 96.19% total vote points
  2. Dale Hawerchuk: 1 1st place vote, 28.89% total vote points
  3. Pelle Lindberg: 0 first place votes; 17.78% total vote points
  4. Rod Langway: 1 1st place vote, 8.89% total vote points
  5. Ray Bourque: 0 first place votes, 6.67% total vote points

Other first place votes:

  • Brian Sutter: 1 1st place vote, 4.13% total vote points

You could understand an argument for a Flyer if you took the “best player on the best team” view, but it seems absurd in the face of Gretzky’s performance.

Verdict:

Good

1984 – Wayne Gretzky (5th), C, Oilers (1st)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.77, 205P, 19.6 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Reed Larson (8 PS, 62P)
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Ray Bourque (14.5 PS, 96P)
    • MVD by DPS: Ray Bourque (+51)
  • MVG: Murray Bannerman (10.6 PS, 23-29-4, .887 SV%, 3.39 GAA, 23 GSAA, 2 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Capitals)
    • (skater) by PS: Scott Stevens (9.1 PS, 45P)
    • by DPS: Scott Stevens (+25)
    • by GPS: Pat Riggin (6 PS, 21-14-2, .890 SV%, 2.67 GAA, 15 GSAA, 4 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Wayne Gretzky
  • Norris: Rod Langway (33P, +14, 7.6 PS)
  • Selke: Doug Jarvis (42P, +6, 2.1 PS)
  • Vezina: Tom Barrasso (26-12-3, .893 SV%, 2.85 GAA, 22 GSAA, 2 SO)
  • Jennings:
    • Al Jensen
    • Pat Riggin (25-13-3, .881 SV%, 2.92 GAA, 7 GSAA, 4 SO, 5.8 PS)

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 60 1st place votes, 98.71% total voting points
  2. Rod Langway: 1 1st place vote, 32.90% total voting points
  3. Bryan Trottier: 1 1st place vote, 17.42% total voting points
  4. Rick Middleton: 0 first place votes; 10% total vote points
  5. Bourque: 0 first place votes; 5.48% total vote points

As no doubter as it gets.

Verdict:

Good

1983 – Wayne Gretzky (4th), C, Oilers (3rd by points, 1st by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.45 PPG, 196P, 18 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs: Dave Babych (8.2 PS, 74P)
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Paul Coffey (12 PS, 96P)
    • MVD by DPS: Mike O’Connell (9.8 PS, 53P, +43)
  • MVG: Pete Peeters (16.5 PS, 40-12-9, .903 SV%, 2.37 GAA, 42 GSAA, 8 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Bruins)
    • by Points: Barry Pederson (107P, 9.7 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Ray Bourque 11.6 PS, 73P)
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Islanders by 2 goals)
    • (skater) by PS: Mike Bossy (11.2 PS, 118P)
    • by DPS: Tomas Jonsson (9.2 PS, 48P, +40)
    • by GPS: Roland Melanson (24-12-5, .909 SV%, 2.66 GAA, 41 GSAA, 1 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Wayne Gretzky
  • Norris: Rod Langway (32P, -2, 5.2 PS)
  • Selke: Bobby Clarke (85P, +37, 6.1 PS)
  • Vezina: Pete Peters
  • Jennings
    • Roland Melanson 
    • Billy Smith (9.1 PS, 18-14-7, .906 SV %, 2.87 GAA, 36 GSAA, 1 SO)

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 43 1st place votes, 84.44% total vote points
  2. Pete Peeters: 14 1st place votes, 50.48% total vote points
  3. Denis Savard: 3 1st place votes, 21.27% total vote points
  4. Rod Langway: 1 1st place vote, 9.52% total vote points
  5. Mark Howe: 2 1st place votes, 6.35% total vote points

No issues here.

Verdict:

Good

1982 – Wayne Gretzky (3rd), C, Oilers (2nd by points, 3rd by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.65 PPG [record], 212P [record], 19.7 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • (by division) Wayne Gretzky [No MVS by standings]
      • (by conference) Marcel Dionne (8.8 PS, 117P)
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Paul Coffey (11.2 PS, 89P)
    • MVD by DPS: Brian Engblom (8.9 PS, 33P, +78)
  • MVG: Don Edwards (11.3 PS, 26-23-9, .882 SV%, 3.52 GAA, 16 GSAA, 0 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Islanders)
    • by Points: Mike Bossy (147P, 13.3 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Mike Bossy
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Oilers)
    • by Points: Wayne Gretzky
    • by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Canadiens)
    • (skater) by PS: Larry Robinson (9.9 PS, 59P)
    • by DPS: Brian Engblom
    • by GPS: Rick Wamsley (9.2 PS, 23-7-7, .893 SV%, 2.75 GAA, 19 GSAA, 2 SO)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Wayne Gretzky
  • Norris: Doug Wilson (85P, +1, 10.3 PS)
  • Selke: Steve Kasper (51P, -18, 2.5 PS)
  • Vezina: Billy Smith (32-9-4, .898 SV%, 2.97 GAA, 33 GSAA, 0 SO)
  • Jennings
    • Denis Herron (12-6-8, .911 SV%, 2.64 GAA, 29 GSAA, 3 SO, 6.6 PS)
    • Rick Wamsley

Voting Breakdown:

(1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place votes introduced)

  1. Gretzky: 63 1st place votes, 100% total vote points
  2. Bryan Trottier: 0 first place votes; 41.27% total vote points
  3. Bossy: 0 first place votes; 10.79% total vote points
  4. Peter Stastny: 0 first place votes; 4.76% total vote points
  5. Dale Hawerchuk: 0 first place votes; 4.13% total vote points

The first time Gretzky was on a legitimately good team.

Verdict:

Good

1981 – Wayne Gretzky (2nd), C, Oilers (13th by points, 10th by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (2.05 PPG, 164P [record], 14.3 PS)
  • Art Ross: Wayne Gretzky
  • MVS by PS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • (by division) Ron Greschner (8.4 PS, 68P)
      • (by conference) Bob Murray (7.4 PS, 60P
    • MVF by OPS: Wayne Gretzky
    • MVD by PS: Denis Potvin (11 PS, 76P)
    • MVD by DPS: Brian Engblom (8.4 PS, 28P, +63)
  • MVG: Mario Lessard (12.6 PS, 35-18-11, .893 SV%, 3.26 GAA, 32 GSAA, 2 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Islanders)
    • by Points: Mike Bossy (119P, 12 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Mike Bossy
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Islanders)
    • by Points: Mike Bossy
    • by OPS: Mike Bossy
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Canadiens)
    • (skater) by PS: Rod Langway (9.6 PS, 45P)
    • by DPS: Brian Engblom
    • by GPS: Richard Sevigny (20-4-3, .908 SV%, 2.4 GAA, 24 GSAA, 2 SO, 7.9 PS)
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Mike Liut (33-14-13, .894 SV%, 3.35 GAA, 33 GSAA, 1 SO, 11.6 PS)
  • Norris: Randy Carlyle (83P, -16, 8.5 PS)
  • Selke: Bob Gainey (47P, +13, 3.2 PS)
  • Vezina
    • Denis Herron (6-9-6, .878 SV%, 3.52 GAA, 1 GSAA, 1 SO, 3.5 PS)
    • Michel Larocque (19-12-5, .873 SV%, 3.52 GAA, -3 GSAA, 1 SO, 6.3 PS)
    • Richard Sevigny

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPointsGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartLindsay
BossyIslanders79685111952120.860.651.510.660.154thNo
DionneKings8058771355312.80.730.961.690.660.163rdNo
GretzkyOilers80551091646014.30.691.362.050.750.18YesYes
NilssonFlames8049821314910.90.611.031.640.610.148thNo
SimmerKings6556491054410.40.860.751.620.680.16NoNo

Voting Breakdown:

[no places]

  1. Gretzky: 42.68% total vote points
  2. Liut: 41.8% total vote points
  3. Dionne: 4.23%
  4. Bossy: 3.53%
  5. Bryan Trottier: 1.59%

If you are fine with the Hart Trophy as the “Best Player” or “Best Forward” award, there’s no controversy here, as Gretzky set the points record.

Verdict

Probably fine

1980 – Wayne Gretzky, C, Oilers (16th by points [4th in division], 12th by SRS)

  • Best Player by PPG: Wayne Gretzky (1.73 PPG, 137P, 12.6 PS)
  • Art Ross
    • Wayne Gretzky
    • Marcel Dionne (137 PS, 13.5 PS)
  • MVS by PS: Marcel Dionne
    • MVS by PS factoring in playoffs
      • Marcel Dionne
    • MVF by OPS: Marcel Dionne
    • MVD by PS: Ray Bourque (11.8 PS, 65P)
    • MVD by DPS: Jim Schoenfeld (9..7 PS, 36P, +60)
  • MVG: Tony Esposito (14 PS, 31-22-16, .903 SV%, 2.98 GAA, 43 GSAA, 6 SO)
  • Best Player on Best Team (Flyers)
    • by Points: Ken Linseman (79P, 5.9 PS)
    • by MVS by PS: Reggie Leach (8.5 PS, 76P)
  • Best Player on Best Offensive Team (Canadiens, by 1 goal)
    • by Points: Guy Lafleur (125P, 12.8 PS)
    • by OPS: Guy Lafleur
  • Best Player on Best Defensive Team (Sabres)
    • (skater) by PS: Danny Gare (10.4 PS, 89P)
    • by DPS: Jim Shoenfeld
    • by GPS: Don Edwards (11.5 PS, 27-9-12, .893 SV%, 2.57 GAA, 12 GSAA, 2 SO) [Good time to point out flaws in GPS, because he was worse than his backup]
  • Lindsay (Pearson): Marcel Dionne
  • Norris: Larry Robinson (75P, 11.4 PS, +38)
  • Selke: Bob Gainey (33P, -1, 1.8 PS)
  • Vezina
    • Don Edwards
    • Bob Sauve (20-8-4, .902 SV%, 2.36 GAA, 14 GSAA, 4 SO, 7.9 PS)

Best Player Race

PlayerTeamGPGAPGCPSGPGAPGPPGGCPGPSPGHartTL
DionneKings8053841375213.50.661.051.710.650.172ndYes
GareSabres765633894010.40.740.431.170.530.145thNo
GretzkyOilers7951861375112.60.651.091.730.650.16YesNo
LafleurCanadiens7450751254912.80.681.011.690.660.174thNo
SimmerKings6456451014311.80.880.701.580.670.18NoNo
StoughtonWhalers80564410043100.700.551.250.540.13NoNo

Voting Breakdown:

  1. Gretzky: 38.43% total vote points
  2. Dionne: 30.24% total vote points
  3. Esposito: 11.66% total vote points
  4. Lafleur: 8.01%
  5. Gare: 3.64%

So, all of a sudden, the writers throw out all voting conventions? We are not questioning Gretzky’s talent, but this is the first time in years they voted in a good player on a borderline playoff team. Meanwhile, the Kings were 12th in record and Dionne also won the Art Ross. A better playoff format – i.e. less than 2/3rds of the league get in – and Gretzky doesn’t get the votes. Nor would Dionne. That gives one pause about the results, doesn’t it?

Verdict

At least a little controversial.

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