Hartzell Hobey Snub? A Long-Winded Response

Sieve - Justin K. Aller

Oh for the love of God...

I was a pretty big fan of Fire Joe Morgan, the website well-known for skewering bad sports journalism run by one of the writers of The Office.

Since Fire Joe Morgan has hung up their skates, so to speak, there's no one around to tear apart this painfully uninformed piece of writing from someone named Chip Malafronte of the New Haven Register. I will gladly take up this noble cause in their absence.

Mr. Chip claims to be the Yale *and* Quinnipiac hockey beat writer for the Register, so we can kind of forgive him for getting a little over-excited and typing up something ridiculous in his solitary moment of glory. But that doesn't mean I don't have the right to completely rip it part.

Go time.

"Eric Hartzell hosed by Hobey Baker ballots"

Now you see why I spent two hours of a Sunday morning doing this.

Drew LeBlanc over Eric Hartzell isn’t exactly Gary Beban over O.J. Simpson for the 1967 Heisman.

Or, for that matter, Art Carney’s portrayal of an elderly man traveling cross country beating out Al Pacino’s performance as Michael Corleone for best actor in 1974.

What? Who? How? Can? Make? Point?

"Hartzell not winning the Hobey isn't really a snub, so I'm going to write three pages about it for a regional newspaper because there aren't literally dozens of more interesting and less made-up storylines I could be writing about in its place."

No. Hartzell losing out to LeBlanc for the Hobey Baker Award won’t rank among the most egregious snubs of all-time.

So why are you writing this article right now?

The voters merely made the wrong choice.

Oh. Okay. "Boston College hockey didn't lose to Union. They just scored less goals than them over the course of a regulation hockey game."

Am I doing this right? You did a poor job of presenting a coherent thesis. Did you take freshman year English?

Moving on.

LeBlanc, a senior forward for St. Cloud State, won the prestigious award as college hockey’s top player on Friday night at the Consol Energy Center. Hartzell, Quinnipiac’s brilliant senior goaltender, and Boston College sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau were the other two finalists.

I want to point out, right off the bat -- LeBlanc absolutely deserved the Hobey. You aren't going to hear any 'Johnny Gaudreau got snubbed' talk out of BCI, or at least out of me, because the vote could have gone either way between LeBlanc and Gaudreau. It came down to whether the voters wanted to go with the player who had a statistically better season in Gaudreau, or the player with the great stats AND exceptional leadership and academics.

With no one completely tearing it up statistically, I completely understand and even applaud the direction the committee went in giving LeBlanc the edge for his academic and leadership accolades.

Now, having said all that -- Hartzell was a crystal clear non-contender for the award. He was a good goalie who helped his team to a nice run, but he was absolutely third of the three candidates.

For his part, Hartzell, so nervous during the presentation he made a conscious effort to keep his legs from ping-ponging up and down...

I noticed that. LeBlanc was doing this too. Gaudreau looked like he was going to throw up all the Skittles and Mountain Dew he probably ate before the ceremony because they were all so nervous.

Somehow this means Hartzell deserved the Hobey, apparently.

...was gracious in defeat.

"That asshole LeBlanc, he probably took Underwater Basketweaving classes and likes to smack around small children for fun. Total jerk. Didn't deserve the award."

I imagine this is what the rest of the college hockey world was saying about LeBlanc winning the award. That Hartzell, though... what a guy!

He hid any disappointment, calling LeBlanc "a dynamic player" and "a great guy."

Probably because LeBlanc is a dynamic player and a great guy, I would guess. What else is he going to say?

LeBlanc’s 13 goals are the lowest total amongst Hobey-winning forwards in the 33-year history of the award.

And Hartzell's goaltending numbers aren't even in the same stratosphere as Ryan Miller's, the only goalie to win the Hobey in the last 25 years.

Are we really doing this? You *know* LeBlanc didn't win the Hobey because of his goal scoring numbers, right?

He did lead the nation in assists, returned a year after a compound leg fracture and was student-athlete of the year in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

So you do know. Then why are we bringing up LeBlanc's goal-scoring numbers when you and I and everyone else who closely follows college hockey knows he won the Hobey for these other reasons you mentioned in the sentence literally immediately following that meaningless stat?

"Miguel Cabrera had just four stolen bases last year! It's outrageous that he was named MVP! He did win the triple crown though, so there's that."

That's what you just did.

Still, Hartzell was the best player on the nation’s top-ranked team.

This does not make him the best player in the country. A third grader would recognize how logically flawed this is.

And when the two squared off on Thursday night in the Frozen Four semifinals, Hartzell had the clear upper hand as the Bobcats manhandled St. Cloud State.

LeBlanc was held scoreless — he did hit a pipe — but Quinnipiac will play for the national championship Saturday night.

Hartzell had the upper hand?? Hartzell had himself a great game, but let's not pretend Hartzell was the reason Quinnipiac won. This game was over 10 minutes into the first period when Quinnipiac had put home its third goal of the game.

Also: Are we really using a single game head-to-head matchup between a forward and a goaltender as the basis for who is the best player in the country? Both of these dudes were a non-factor in the end result of that game.

Also x2: This game had literally no bearing on who would win the Hobey, because it was completed after the voting happened. Good job, good effort.

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold has touted Hartzell as his team’s rock all season; the reason the Bobcats are what they are; the player who bailed them out many times and allowed them to pull out the close games.

This is probably true.

All those improperly-used semicolons are a big, fat "[sic]," by the way.

He has often said Hartzell is the best player in the country, and his outlook didn’t change after the announcement.

Okay, that's a pretty big jump from "Our goalie is our rock," (true of probably every team in the country with a winning record) and "best player in the country."

"You’re excited he’s in the top 10, you’re excited he’s in the top three, you really feel like he should win it," Pecknold said. "But there’s so many good players. I’m disappointed he didn’t win it, but you can’t argue with the choice."

Look, it's his coach and he's going to support his player. But even he says "you can't argue with the choice."

You hear that, Chip? PLEASE STOP ARGUING WITH THE CHOICE.

Only two goaltenders have ever won the Hobey: Minnesota’s Robb Stauber in 1988 and Michigan State's Ryan Miller in 2001.

Seems like the position kind of worked against Hartzell then.

It wasn’t the position that worked against Hartzell...

WHAT?

...but the timing of the voting.

The timing of the voting?? The timing of the voting, if anything, helped Hartzell. Hartzell gets credit for his team winning even though he 1) almost cost them the game against Canisius and 2) Was a total nonfactor in the Quinnipiac Peca's victory over Union to go to the Frozen Four.

Meanwhile, LeBlanc doesn't even show up on the scoresheet in either of his team's regional games. But Hartzell gets credit for 'leading his team to the Frozen Four' because he's a goalie.

If your argument is that Hartzell would have won the Hobey if the voters watched Hartzell ride the coattails of his team's quick 3-0 lead against LeBlanc's Huskies -- and I think this is your argument, which is stupid -- then all I can say to you is that You Are Incorrect.

The Hobey committee submitted its votes last Monday, a day after the NCAA Regionals. That likely eliminated Gaudreau, whose Eagles were beaten badly by Union two days earlier, while LeBlanc and Hartzell became more attractive after leading their teams into unchartered territory at the Frozen Four.

You're killing me, Smalls.

Team success is a factor but you're taking it to a whole new level with this nonsense. BC losing to Union didn't "eliminate" Gaudreau. He had an entire season of leading the nation in points per game and General Electricness (this is a real thing) that doesn't just get wiped away because his team laid a giant egg against a good team.

I will say it again: LeBlanc and Hartzell -- and Gaudreau, for that matter -- were non-factors in how their respective teams fared on regional weekend.

It would be a trio of somewhat unconventional candidates, at least by the typical Hobey Baker standards. Goalies often make it to the final three, but rarely win, while the other two candidates lacked the filthy goals-scored numbers so coveted by the committee.

But each had other attractive storylines that filled in the statistical gaps.

I am looking forward to you telling me how Hartzell's storyline is somehow more impressive than the other two.

LeBlanc was the kid who overcame adversity, turned down a potential windfall and led his school to new heights.

He broke his leg in the 11th game of his senior year. With professional options on the table, he decided to return this season as a medical redshirt and became one of the keys to St. Cloud State’s run to the Frozen Four.

Don't forget WCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. That's one of the most important pieces of this puzzle.

Awesome story though. One of the best in recent memory. What do you have for Johnny Hockey?

Gaudreau is the national hero, the little guy from Boston College who led the United States to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in January. The Hobey Baker is based on NCAA performance, but you can bet his international heroics weren’t ignored by voters.

A 19-year-old sophomore forward, his diminutive size (5 feet 6, 150 pounds) and boy-band face might give reason to card him at a PG-13 movie. But his explosive ability helped him build a resume that includes leading the nation in points per game.

Explosive. National hero. Leading scorer in PPG. Really, really good reasons for someone to win the Hobey.

Hartzell's 'storyline' is probably going to be super awesome though.

Hit me.

And then there was Hartzell, the backbone of Quinnipiac’s improbable run and the central figure who put the small Hamden school on the college hockey map.

Cool. That's it??

Let me summarize:

LeBlanc passed up a pro contract and worked his ass off to come back after his senior year after breaking his leg on a medical redshirt. Rather than skating through his post-grad season he kicks ass in the classroom too, earning WCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year *and* WCHA Player of the year. He lead the nation in assists and rocked a pretty excellent 50 point season.

Gaudreau is the national hero, leading Team USA to the upset win in World Juniors, had the best season statistically with the highest points per game total, and was pretty widely acknowledged as the most exciting player in the country.

Hartzell helped Quinnipiac's team to the Frozen Four for the first time.

Neat.

There are bigger fish to fry for Hartzell. Namely, Yale on Saturday night at 7. He’ll gladly take a national championship ring and an NHL contract awaits in the coming days.

Womp womp.

Still, the Hobey Baker should have made the weekend complete.

Look, Hartzell had a great year, and had really good stats while playing in just about every game for the Q. That's a great year. It's not deserving of the award that goes to the greatest player in the country -- especially when that award acknowledges academic and leadership qualities.

I'll end with this: Goalies in contention for the Hobey are typically compared to Ryan Miller's Hobey winning year in 2001, which set the standard for goaltending performances.

Hartzell isn't even close to Miller's numbers. You know who was? Connor Hellebuyck from UMass-Lowell.

Hellebuyck didn't start in all of his team's games like Hartzell did, but he was clearly a better goaltender. I'm not even sure this can be reasonably debated.

How can you give the Hobey to a player who isn't even the best at his position just because he played more games? Hellebuyck put up Miller-like numbers and did so playing vastly superior competition.

In any case... this article feels like it was written by someone who, for lack of a better phrase, doesn't know what they're talking about. Saying Hartzell was snubbed is an insult to those of us who don't live an in ECAC-centric world and recognize a superior candidate when they see it, despite the fact that he's not wearing your school's colors.

Maybe the Register should stick to covering women's hoops.

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