Joe Thornton's resurgent season was not enough to earn him a Hart Trophy nomination. Dallas' Jamie Benn, Chicago's Patrick Kane, and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby are the finalists for the award, the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced today.
As a 36-year-old, Thornton posted the sixth-highest point total of his career, finishing the campaign with 82 points in 82 games. He finished fourth in points, second in assists, and as Adam Gretz of CBS Sports points out, had arguably the biggest impact of any player on his respective team:
When Thornton is on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Sharks control close to 57 percent of the shot attempts in the league and outscore their opponents by a 64-25 margin. When he is not on the ice they control just under 50 percent of the shot attempts and have been outscored 104-79. No other top player in the league (Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Karlsson included) has seen that sort of swing in their team's performance when they are on the ice vs. when they are off of it this season.
This is the second time in as many weeks Thornton has arguably been snubbed for a PHWA-voted award. As Jake pointed out last week, Thornton's a more than worthy Selke candidate, but could not crack the top three. It's pretty much impossible to envision that the Sharks would still be playing, let alone would have made the playoffs, had Thornton not played at the level he did this season. Although the three finalists finished first, second, and third in points, it's hard not to feel like Thornton deserved more recognition.