We’re back on NHL Saturday with another season of high-scoring craziness in professional hockey across North America. The New York Islanders won their third-straight Stanley Cup, meaning over the last 15 seasons since we started this column feature series, only four teams have won the title (Montréal, Boston, Philadelphia, New York). That’s not very good distribution!
For now, however, let’s find out who won our awards this time out …
1982 Hart: Wayne Gretzky (original, confirmed)
This season, the Edmonton Oilers posted 111 points to post the top record in the Campbell Conference by 17 points, and their star center Wayne Gretzky won the Hart vote. He topped the league in Point Shares by 6.4 points over the next-best player, Islanders right wing Mike Bossy (13.31). In fact, the Great One’s 19.71 PS is the highest mark we have seen since the 1974-75 season. That gap is also incredible.
The Isles posted 118 points to top the Wales Conference, albeit by just 9 points over the Canadiens. Clearly, both Edmonton and New York would have made the postseason without their stars, but we just can’t get over that 6.4 PS gap noted above. In the time we have been doing these award analyses, we have never seen a gap that large.
In 1969-1970, Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr (19.53) topped everyone else in the NHL by 4.64 PS, and that was the record hitherto. We cannot ignore Gretzky’s dominance, even if his team was also very good around him. His traditional numbers—league-best marks in goals (92), assists (120), points (212), plus/minus rating (+80), even-strength goals (68), short-handed goals (6), game-winning goals (12), and shots on goal (370)—are stunning, and that goal total is still the all-time, single-season record today.
1982 Vezina: Billy Smith (original), Michel Dion (revised)
Seven goaltenders finished atop the league for PS and within 1.5 points of each other: Buffalo Sabres veteran Don Edwards (11.34); Islanders stalwart Billy Smith (10.47); Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Michel Dion (10.44); Vancouver Canucks vet Richard Brodeur (10.34); Quebec Nordiques netminder Dan Bouchard (10.13); Minnesota North Stars goalie Gilles Meloche (9.99); and Oilers rookie Grant Fuhr (9.93).
Edwards won our award here in 1978, but the others are all newcomers to the weekly discussion. The Sabres finished third in their division with a lot of breathing room, as the new NHL rules gave four postseason berths to each division, period. Same with the Islanders, Canucks, Nordiques, North Stars, and Oilers. In fact, only Pittsburgh was within 10 points of missing the postseason (Patrick Division).
That tells us, really, that Dion had the most value, as all the other goalies played on teams that still would have cruised into the postseason without their No. 1 guys in net. But not the Penguins: They needed every minute of Dion’s play to make it. His traditional numbers (25-24-12 record, 2.89 adjusted GAA) are not grandiose, but his value for Pittsburgh was season changing over those 62 games he appeared.
1982 Norris: Doug Wilson (original, confirmed)
Two defensemen finished in the league’s Top 10 for PS: Edmonton’s Paul Coffey (11.18) and Chicago Black Hawks youngster Doug Wilson (10.35). Neither won the award before, and Wilson won this vote as Chicago finished fourth in its division. The Black Hawks had a 15-point cushion, still, but without Wilson, perhaps the team would have had to sweat out its postseason chances. The Oilers would have been fine without Coffey, obviously.
We will confirm his vote win, therefore, based on the following tradition statistics: 39G, 46A, 85P, and 54 PIM. That’s a well-rounded season from a top blueliner on a borderline playoff roster.
1982 Calder: Dale Hawerchuk (original), Grant Fuhr (revised)
The best three first-year guys were Winnipeg Jets center Dale Hawerchuk (7.9 PS), Oilers goalie Fuhr (9.93), and Bruins center Barry Pederson (7.9). Fuhr lost just 5 times in 48 appearances, posting 28 wins and 14 ties in the process, and he was the biggest reason Edmonton took a leap from playoff fringe to standings toppers. He also topped the league in Goals Saved Against Average (38.3), a sabermetric gem.
The Jets had a big postseason cushion and experienced a 48-point boost in the standings, but clearly that wasn’t due to Hawerchuk (45G, 58A) alone. He had a great season, but his PS total isn’t that stellar. Likewise, the Bruins had a big playoff comfort zone, but they only improved 9 points in the standings. Maybe that was all Pederson (44ZG, 48A), but it doesn’t matter. Fuhr helped Edmonton gain a whopping 37 points in the standings—right in line with that GSAA mark.
1982 Conn Smythe: Mike Bossy (original), Billy Smith (revised)
The Islanders swept the Canucks in the Finals, and New York right wing Mike Bossy took home the Conn Smythe vote with 27 points (17G, 10A) in 19 games. His teammate, center Bryan Trottier, was a little better overall (6G, 23A). Meanwhile, Smith posted a 15-3 mark in net, with a 2.51 GAA and a .908 save percentage. All three of these guys are worthy of this award.
Bossy’s goal total is incredible, as no one else on the roster reached double digits, and Trottier’s assist total is insane, even if fourth other guys reached double digits on dimes. The fact is, though, that the one game Smith did not start, the Isles lost while giving up 5 goals. Someone was going to find the net with all those skaters posting so many assists, and that cannot be said for another goaltender in net stopping the pucks.