It’s time for 2001, an ice odyssey, on NHL Saturday. Professional hockey in America was gearing up for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where NHL and other professionals from around the world would compete for only the second time in Olympic history. That made many interleague battles even more intriguing to the fans and the players, too.
But enough about that … here’s the awards analysis you all came here for!
2001 Hart: Joe Sakic (original), Jaromír Jágr (revised)
Three forwards found their way into the league’s Top 10 for Point Shares overall, including Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic (15.85), Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Jaromír Jágr (14.13), and New Jersey Devils left wing Patrik Elias (12.48). Sakic won the Hart vote, and Jágr has won this award from us the last two seasons in a row (1999, 2000). What does the data tell us this time?
Sakic’s PS mark was the highest in the league, but Colorado had a 28-point buffer in the standings after posting a league-high 118 points. His value takes a hit there; meanwhile, the Pens had just an 8-point cushion as the difference between the postseason and the offseason. Jágr’s value gets a bump, therefore. As for the Devils, they topped the Eastern Conference with 111 points, with plenty to spare.
Thus, while Sakic may have been the best player in the league, Jágr was the most valuable one—again. He topped the NHL in assists (69) and points (121), while also leading his peers in even-strength goals (37). Jágr was basically a one-man wrecking crew on the offensive side of the sheet for Pittsburgh. He finished third in the Hart voting at the time.
2001 Norris: Nicklas Lidström (original), Sergei Gonchar (revised)
Five defensemen cracked double digits in PS, lead by Detroit Red Wings veteran Nicklas Lidström (12.22) who won the Norris vote. But Detroit cruised to 111 points with plenty of playoff margin, so are any of the other candidates worthy in terms of value?
They were Dallas Stars stalwart Sergei Zubov (10.7); Washington Capitals star Sergei Gonchar (10.6); St. Louis Blues eternal Al MacInnis (10.5); and Avalanche legend Ray Bourque (10.2). Dallas had a 16-point cushion, while Washington had an 8-point buffer. The Blues cleared the bar by 13 points, and the Avs had the best record in the league. Here, we see Gonchar as the most valuable blueliner, then.
Lidstrom is an all-time great, but playing for the Red Wings during this era, his sabermetric value took a hit. He has yet to win a Norris from us, although this is Gonchar’s first nod here for the following stat line: 19G, 38A, plus-12 rating, and 70 PIMs. Without him, the Caps might have missed the postseason dance.
2001 Vezina: Dominik Hasek (original), Curtis Joseph (revised)
Six goaltenders finished in the league’s overall Top 10 for Point Shares, showing once again where the best teams were centered. The six goalies were, in order, Phoenix Coyotes journeyman Sean Burke (14.41); Toronto Maple Leafs star Curtis Joseph (14.04); Buffalo Sabres wizard Dominik Hasek (13.85); Capitals stonewall Olaf Kölzig (13.09); Carolina Hurricanes veteran Arturs Irbe (12.86); and Ottawa Senators newbie Patrick Lalime (11.99).
Hasek won the vote; we’re here to analyze and assess that, of course. But Phoenix missed out on the postseason via tiebreaker, so that’s huge for Burke’s value. The Maple Leafs squeaked in to the playoffs by 2 points; the Sabres had a 10-point buffer, however. The Caps had that aforementioned 8-point cushion, and the Hurricanes won a tiebreaker to get the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. With 109 points, the Senators cruised into the postseason.
So, this comes down to Burke, Joseph, and Irbe:
- Burke: 25-22-13, 2.27 GAA, .922 S% in 62 games
- Joseph: 33-27-8, 2.39 GAA, .915 S% in 68 games
- Irbe: 37-27-9, 2.45 GAA, .908 S% in 77 games
Burke compiled the highest PS mark, and he’s the best statistically here, as well, even if he played in the fewest games—and his team lost a tiebreaker. That’s not his fault; likewise, Carolina didn’t win the tiebreak in the other conference because of Irbe. Both goaltenders did all they could to get their teams to their final position(s).
In the end, we’re going with Joseph, because it’s a compromise in terms of PS value and team finish. We will not argue anyone who supports the other two goalies, either. Regardless, this is CuJo’s third Vezina nod from us (1992, 1993). He is proving to be one of the more underrated players in NHL history, and it’s a shame he’s not in the Hall of Fame.
2001 Calder: Evgeni Nabokov (original, confirmed)
Two rookies separated themselves from the masses, and they were both goalies: San Jose Sharks youngster Evgeni Nabokov (11.7) and Florida Panthers acquisition Robert Luongo (10.6). Nabokov won the vote at the time, as the Sharks qualified for the postseason with a 5-point cushion in the standings, while the Panthers missed the playoffs by a wide margin.
With no other rookies topping 6.9 PS, then we will confirm Nabokov’s vote win for the following statistical line: 32-21-7, 2.19 GAA, .915 S% in 66 games. It’s quite probable San Jose does not make the Western Conference playoffs without him.
2001 Conn Smythe: Patrick Roy (original, confirmed)
The Avs won a thrilling Stanley Cup Finals matchup with the Devils in seven games, winning Game Six on the road and Game Seven at home. Goaltender Patrick Roy won the Conn Smythe vote at the time for posting a 16-7 record with a 1.70 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He started every game for Colorado in the postseason and played all but one minute for the Avs in net.
Roy won this award from us twice before (1986, 1993), and a third nod would tie Wayne Gretzky for the most Conn Smythes in our little world here. But can we give it to him? Sakic posted 26 points in 21 games for Colorado, while his linemate—RW Milan Hejduk—also posted 23 points in 23 games. Clearly, Sakic had some value, too, even though he missed two games. He won the 1996 award, by the way.
This Avs roster was loaded with skating talent, including Bourque on defense, so Roy’s job was a lot “easier” in that sense. For the Devils, they had no skaters with at least one point per game, and their goalie (Martin Brodeur) was inconsistent throughout the postseason. Therefore, we will confirm Roy’s vote win here, as this was his last great NHL hurray at age 35.