They call it the Hobey Hat Trick.
I call it a load of crap.
Wednesday night, the Hobey Baker Foundation announced the three final candidates for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, and T.J. Hensick wasn’t one of them.
I’m not upset because I’ve spent the last four years watching Hensick dazzle crowds with spectacular moves. The trophy is supposed to be a reward for an outstanding season, not an outstanding career.
(But while we’re talking careers, can we please take a moment and think about Hensick’s 222 points, including 147 assists? If this was a career award, it’d be sitting on Hensick’s mantle already.)
I’m upset because Hensick simply deserved to be among the last three considered for college hockey’s top honor.
He led the country in scoring with 69 points. He picked up his defensive play (the biggest knock against him in previous seasons), even spending time on the penalty kill. He passed the puck as good as, if not better than, any of the NCAA’s top players.
Don’t believe me? Ask his linemates, Kevin Porter or David Rohlfs. They scored 41 goals combined, and for most of those, it was Hensick who put the puck on their sticks. They would certainly vouch for the senior center.
So why the snub? Well, we can only speculate why the 25-member committee wasn’t impressed enough with Hensick.
Maybe the 10-minute misconduct he got slapped with as the last 12 minutes of Michigan’s season-ending loss to North Dakota ticked away had something to do with it. After all, the award isn’t just about skill, it’s about character. Few people know exactly what Hensick said to the referee to earn such a harsh punishment, but I can’t be mad at Hensick for getting emotional when he saw his last shot at a trip to the Frozen Four slipping away. I lose my temper getting stuck in traffic. How would you react to your college hockey career ending like it was for him? And why should those 10 minutes cancel out a season of amazing play?
The Howell native’s character can’t come under scrutiny from that one penalty – no one knows the exact terms of it anyway. If hockey legend Red Berenson names someone an alternate captain of the Michigan hockey team, his character can’t be too shabby.
Well, maybe the competition for the award was just too stiff to include Hensick in the final three. Notre Dame’s David Brown, Air Force’s Eric Ehn and North Dakota’s Ryan Duncan were the ones chosen over Hensick.
I’ve seen all three play in person this season – Brown three times, Ehn and Duncan once.
I think Brown is an intelligent goaltender who benefits from the stifling defense played in front of him by forwards and blue liners. The senior doesn’t get tested much, but when he does he usually passes it.
I think Ehn has raw offensive talent. And while his some of the junior’s 64 points (second in the nation, behind Hensick) did come against a few feeble Atlantic Hockey opponents, he did play impressive hockey all while surviving the rigors of a military academy.
I think Duncan is also talented, and lucky to play on a line with equally talented players T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews. As the Wolverines can attest, playing against WCHA teams is not easy, so Duncan’s 57 points for the Fighting Sioux are big.
That said, Hensick not only belongs in that group, he should be at the front of it. I don’t mean to discredit the other players, and I haven’t seen them in person as much as Hensick, but keeping Hensick out is simply unfair.
I can’t tell you how many times my jaw hit the floor after watching Hensick fool a defender or goaltender. Players like that don’t come along every recruiting class.
It’s a shame someone that special can’t even be a finalist for an award he deserved.
– Colvin suggests you take the time to look up who Hobey Baker actually was and prepare to be amazed. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.