Clearing Up A Few Things

You know, I’m really not the kind of guy to say that I told you so, but…well, you know.

Congratulations to Michigan’s Kevin Porter, Miami’s Ryan Jones, and Boston College’s Nathan Gerbe, who have been named to the Hobey Hat Trick as the top three vote-getters in the final voting for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

Yes, that’s right: final voting. Just to clear up any confusion, the final voting has already taken place, and the naming of the Hat Trick is more for the purposes of next Friday’s presentation ceremony, along with the really cool photo pucks and posters they sell at the Frozen Four.

So, if you have some theory that the exclusion of North Dakota goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux is an attempt to rig the final voting in favor of Porter, I’m just going to have to just go ahead and burst your conspiracy theory bubble right there. The voting is already done, and to be honest, Porter wouldn’t have needed any help in capturing the award.

As far as Lamoureux goes, all this means is that he finished no higher than fourth in the voting. For all we know, Lamoureux finished a single point behind the third-place vote-getter. It doesn’t matter whether it was one point or a hundred. This isn’t like the Heisman Trophy, where the number of players invited to the presentation ceremony changes from year to year. If I had to guess, I’d say that Lamoureux finished fourth, but it makes no difference.

For the record, if this was like the Heisman, where you can change the number of players invited, I’m sure Lamoureux would be part of the ceremony. I’d certainly invite him. He’s had an amazing season, especially when viewed in light of his being the supposed question mark coming into the season for North Dakota.

The problem is that there are only three spots, and there are four – five, if you include Michigan State’s Jeff Lerg – players to fill them. No disrespect to Ryan Lasch, Simon Lambert, T.J. Oshie, Lee Jubinville or Kevin Regan, but I never really looked at them as likely members of the Hat Trick. In any event, someone gets left out no matter what.

So, who?

Obviously, Porter isn’t getting left out. He’s going to win the darn thing, so he’s got to be there.

That leaves Jones, Gerbe, Lamoureux and Lerg to fill two spots, although I felt that Michigan State needed to get to the Frozen Four for Lerg to have a shot at the Hat Trick. I don’t know that he would have made it even with those wins, but MSU isn’t in the Frozen Four, and Lerg isn’t in the Hobey Hat Trick (keep an eye on him for next season, though).

So, that leaves Jones, Gerbe and Lamoureux for two spots.

I can’t think of a player who embodies everything you want in a collegiate athlete better than Ryan Jones. Obviously, he’s one of the best players in the country, he plays in all situations, and was the captain of a team that ascended to the nation’s No. 1 Ranking with a 2007 Hobey Baker finalist sidelined in the first game of the season (Nathan Davis did return, of course, but Miami got to No. 1 without him). On top of that, there’s the much-publicized donation of his long hair to Locks for Love (hopefully, he’ll keep it through the Hobey ceremony before he cuts it off), and the fact that he took a special “sprint” course in the first half of the spring semester, so that he could complete his degree requirements before the NCAA tournament, allowing him to start his pro hockey career immediately while still getting his degree from Miami.

That leaves Gerbe and Lamoureux, and I’m sure the folks who are upset about Lamoureux not making the top three will point to the infamous suspension in November. For the third or fourth time, that became a dead issue when Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said himself that it shouldn’t disqualify Gerbe from consideration. Of course, since there hasn’t been a Hobey Hat Trick without and Eastern representative – and that factored into the prediction I made on Monday – I’m guessing the cries of “East Coast Bias” will follow in short order.

Folks, I’ve seen all the finalists. I saw more than three quarters of the Division I teams in the country, and I can tell you with great confidence that I did not see a more exciting player than Nathan Gerbe. The numbers do not lie: Gerbe deserves to be there.

And so does Lamoureux.

In the end, that’s what it all comes down to: more players who deserve spots than there are spots to be awarded.

So, if you want to get upset over the fact that Lamoureux probably finished fourth in the voting, and didn’t finish third, well, that’s your perogative.

Lamoureux, I’m sure, is more concerned with getting his team past Boston College in a week.

After all, being named to the Hobey Hat Trick just gives you the right to shake Kevin Porter’s hand after he wins, and I’m sure Lamoureux would rather do that in the handshake line after the national championship game.

Author: Elliot Olshansky

Elliot Olshansky covers the Hobey Baker Award beat for USCHO.com and also covers men’s and women's hockey and lacrosse at NCAA.com for Turner Sports. His experience includes four years covering college hockey for CSTV, stints at other media outlets including the New York Daily News and Spike TV, and freelance writing. His debut novel, "Robert's Rules of Karaoke," is currently available from The Write Deal (www.thewritedeal.org).