By Sarah Kwak, SI.com
Did the NHL (oops!) inadvertently advertise its Hart Trophy winner by selling the Alex Ovechkin T-Shirts on its site days too early? Yes. Probably. But the NHL tried to explain it away like this: "In an effort to offer our fans the merchandise they want in a timely manner following an event such as the NHL Awards, our licensees prepare product for all possible outcomes," spokesman Frank Brown said in a statement.
Considering the awards are pretty much all figured out right after the regular season ends, this explanation doesn't make any sense. They have two months to plan for who the winner is. "All possible outcomes" just doesn't apply.
But could the NHL have inadvertantly spilled the beans on ALL of their award winners on their website? I have a sneaking feeling that they have. On the Trophies page, they show all finalists for all trophies (Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder, Byng, Selke, Adams, Pearson, Masterton) with nice little headshots and what the award is all about.
Now, take note of the order in which they are listed.
They're not in alphabetical order. They're not in reverse alphabetical order by the city name of each player's team. They're not in order from youngest to oldest. They're not in any real order at all, EXCEPT that all of the award front-runners are named first. Coincidence? No. I think somebody didn't think it through when they were pasting these up on the site and left them in the order of votes, thus making the first person the actual winner.
Therefore, with the awards ceremony set to air tomorrow (Thursday) at 7 p.m. on Versus, here are my prescient picks for the awards:
HART: Ovechkin; VEZINA: Evgeni Nabokov; NORRIS: Nicklas Lidstrom; CALDER: Patrick Kane; BYNG: Jason Pominville; SELKE: Henrik Zetterberg; ADAMS: Mike Babcock; MASTERTON: Jason Blake; PEARSON: Ovechkin
I don't think the NHL can lay the blame on their merchandising/licensing/e-commerce departments on this one.