It’s time for the 1995 season analysis on NHL Saturday, which was a weird year because of the strike-shortened, 48-game season—which means all the Point Shares (PS) marks below will look a little lower than usual. It also created a crazy “sprint” to the Stanley Cup playoffs, which helped re-invigorate U.S. interest in professional hockey, while making for some tight postseason races in the standings.
So, this is how it all went down … and our take on it.
1995 Hart: Eric Lindros (original, confirmed)
The three best candidates for the Hart were Philadelphia Flyers center Eric Lindros (8.79 PS), Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Jaromír Jágr (8.31), and Winnipeg Jets center Alex Zhamnov (7.46). With the short season, the Flyers had a 14-point playoff cushion, while the Pens had a 15-point cushion. Meanwhile, the Jets came up 3 points short of a postseason slot in the Western Conference. Lindros won the award, and we’re inclined to confirm it based on this straight-forward analysis.
At age 21, Lindros had yet to suffer the concussion aftershocks that would later derail his career: He posted 70 points (29G, 41A) to lead to league, and he also topped the NHL with 22 even-strength goals. His 20.1-percent shot percentage represented the final time in his career he’d post a number over 20 percent, as he did it three straight times to start his NHL residency.
1995 Norris: Paul Coffey (original, confirmed)
The three best candidates for the Norris were Detroit Red Wings star Paul Coffey (9.02 PS), Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque (7.21), and Chicago Blackhawks veteran Gary Suter (7.11). The Red Wings topped the NHL with 70 points while earning a 29-point playoff cushion, and the Bruins had an 11-point cushion themselves. The Blackhawks made it into the postseason with a 12-point margin of error. With Coffey’s PS mark being so much higher, we will confirm his vote win at the time.
This is Coffey’s fourth win from us (1985, 1986, 1989), and he’s won these awards with Edmonton, Pittsburgh, and now Detroit. His numbers during this abbreviated year: 14G, 44A, plus-18 rating, and 72 PIMs. The four Norris trophies tie Coffey with Denis Potvin for the second most in our estimation since we started this series with the 1968 season, trailing only Bobby Orr (7).
1995 Vezina: Dominik Hasek (original, confirmed)
The four best candidates for the Vezina were Buffalo Sabres wizard Dominik Hasek (10.26 PS), Montréal Canadiens legend Patrick Roy (8.29), Hartford Whalers journeyman Sean Burke (8.24), and Calgary Flames youngster Trevor Kidd (7.38). The Sabres had a five-point margin of error for the postseason, while the Habs and the Whale both missed the postseason by 3 points. As for the Flames, they won the Pacific Division with a 14-point cushion. This makes it easy to confirm Hasek’s vote win.
The Dominator made the difference between the postseason and the offseason for the Sabres, and his PS mark was stunning, considering the 48-game schedule. We often see goalies in the low double-digit realm for full 82-game seasons, so for Hasek to do it with a short year is amazing. How did he do it? He topped his peers in the same three categories as he did last season in winning this award: .930 save percentage, 2.11 GAA, and 5 shutouts.
He also played in 41 games, posting 19 victories and 7 ties while leading the league in several sabermetric categories, beyond just the standard counting categories. A reminder: This was the second of six straight years where Hasek posted the best save percentage in the NHL.
1995 Calder: Peter Forsberg (original); Jim Carey (revised)
The four best candidates for the Calder included Quebec Nordiques center Peter Forsberg (5.0 PS), Bruins goalie Blaine Lacher (4.6), Washington Capitals netminder Jim Carey (4.4), and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim left wing Paul Kariya (3.4). The Nordiques won the Northeast Division with 19-point playoff margin, and we know Boston had an 11-point cushion for the postseason. The Caps had just a 6-point safety net, while the Ducks posted the worst record in the Western Conference.
This makes Carey our most valuable rookie, as without him, maybe Washington struggles a lot more to qualify for the postseason. He played in just 28 games, but some of his numbers resembled Hasek’s efforts above: 18-6-3 record with a .913 S%, 2.13 GAA, and 4 shutouts. At age 20, Carey certainly earned this award from us, at Forsberg’s expense.
1995 Conn Smythe: Claude Lemieux (original), Martin Brodeur (revised)
The New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup, despite finishing just 22-18-8 in the regular season, and they did it with Finals sweep over the Red Wings. Right wing Claude Lemieux won the Conn Smythe vote despite posting just 16 points in 20 games, which included 13 goals and just 3 assists. He converted 20 percent of his shots on goal, while finishing fourth overall on his team in scoring. No matter what the context, this is not a Conn Smythe winner.
Who else on the Devils, then? RW Stephane Richer dropped 21 points (6G, 15A) in 20 games to lead the skaters on the New Jersey side, while goaltender Martin Brodeur posted a 16-4 record with a 1.67 GAA and a .927 S%—and 3 shutouts. Those are not typos, either. Clearly, Brodeur was the most dominant player on this roster, and it’s silly that the voters chose Lemieux, who was basically just the beneficiary of excellent passes from his better teammates—including Brodeur, who got a playoff assist!
Therefore, we re-assign this Conn Smythe to Brodeur, one season after taking away his Calder nod. He was robbed here, period.