Here on NHL Saturday, we are going to overlook the World Hockey Association for now and come back later to revisit it. Our columns would just get too unwieldy at this point with so many awards to analysis. So when we finish this initial series in this column (around January 2022, in truth), we will come back to the WHA and its handful of 1970s campaigns. There were some good players there, of course, but for now, we stick with the original National Hockey League.
One last time: We stated our methodology in the first entry in the series, so revisit that as needed. Now? On with the show!
1973 Hart: Bobby Clarke (original), Phil Esposito (revised)
Philadelphia Flyers center Bobby Clarke won the Hart vote despite finishing a ways back in the Point Shares list for forwards (10.27). The top PS mark (13.07) belonged to Boston Bruins center Phil Esposito, already a four-time winner of this award from us. Other forwards between these two guys were Montréal Canadiens center Jacques Lemaire (10.95) and Flyers center Rick MacLeish (10.54). That’s right: Clarke was not even the best at his position on his own team, showing just how badly this vote missed the mark for the Hart.
Considering the Bruins finished with 107 points in the standings to claim the second-best record in the NHL behind Montréal (120 points), we feel confident giving another Hart to Esposito—and his league-leading totals in goals (55), assists (75), points (130), short-handed goals (5), game-winning goals (11), and total shots on goal (411). He also added 87 penalty minutes. He still was pretty darn good at age 30. The only time Esposito has not won this award from us was in 1970, in fact.
1973 Vezina: Ken Dryden (original, confirmed)
Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden was clearly the best goalie in the league (13.17 PS), although Chicago Black Hawks stalwart Tony Esposito (12.63) was right behind him. Chicago posted 93 points to top the standings of the West Division, but Dryden won the Triple Crown of goaltending by leading the NHL in wins (33), goals-against average (2.26), and save percentage (.926). It’s hard to top that, and while Esposito clearly brought value to the Black Hawks with his 32 victories, 2.52 GAA, and .917 S%, Dryden was just a bit better.
1973 Norris: Bobby Orr (original, confirmed)
Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr topped the league in overall PS (15.56), and although this wasn’t anywhere near his best season, he was still the top guy at his position, obviously, too. Part of the issue was he played just 63 games, but Orr still posted 29G, 72A, 99PIM, and a plus-55 rating. Montréal defenseman Guy Lapointe (11.08 PS) was the next best blue liner in the NHL.
1973 Calder: Steve Vickers (original, confirmed)
Two rookie left wings were the best first-year players in the league: Steve Vickers of the New York Rangers (5.9 PS) and Bill Barber of the Philadelphia Flyers (5.9 PS). Vickers won the Calder vote, probably because Barber was playing with the likes of Clarke and MacLeish in Philly, while the Rangers didn’t have the same quality skaters. New York did post 102 points, though, so the roster wasn’t devoid of talent. However, Vickers was just 10th on the Rangers in Point Shares, while Barber was 7th on the Flyers. That’s interesting to note, but what about raw stats?
- Vickers: 30G, 23A, 37PIM, +35, 5GWG, 22.9% shot percentage
- Barber: 30G, 34A, 46PIM, +11, 2GWG, 14% shot percentage
Nothing jumps out here, except Vickers’ superiority in plus-minus rating and shot percentage. That being said, there is no reason to take the award away from Vickers that we can find. Barber had a good rookie season, but Vickers probably had a slightly better one.
1973 Conn Smythe: Yvan Cournoyer (original, confirmed)
Admit it: You don’t know who Montréal left wing Yvan Cournoyer is—but he netted 25 points in 17 playoff games to win the Conn Smythe as the Canadiens won the Cup Finals in six games over the Black Hawks. Yet our 1971 Conn Smythe pick, Frank Mahovlich, racked up 23 points himself, so we’re not quite sold on Cournoyer … Lemaire also added 20 points, as the Montréal roster was full of scorers in this postseason run to another Stanley Cup title.
Dryden didn’t dominate in net at all, posting a 12-5 record with a 2.90 GAA and a .907S%—and two Chicago skaters posted at least 20 points, too, in the Black Hawks’ run to Game Six of the Cup Finals: left wing Dennis Hull (24 points in 16 games) and center Stan Mikita (20 points in 15 games).
We assume Cournoyer got the nod for his 3 GWGs, even though Lemaire posted a plus/minus rating (+10) that was better than the combined rating for Cournoyer (+6) and Mahovlich (0). Cournoyer also scored on a ridiculous 30.6 percent of his shots on goals, too. Overall, we will stick with him, and he probably remains the most anonymous Conn Smythe winner we will find in our series.