Keeler: All Hail Cale Makar, NHL MVP! Avalanche defender and Hart Trophy are destined to be collectively. Here’s why.


The nice ones lead the scouting report. Cale Makar makes you rip the silly factor up and begin over from scratch.

“I remember having (coach) meetings (where they asked), ‘How do we defend this guy? If he goes down to here, where do we go?’” Rick Tocchet, the previous Avs assistant coach and Turner Sports hockey analyst, stated just lately when requested about Makar, a generational defenseman. “You virtually need to reinvent your system, proper?

“Sometimes for Makar, he does stuff that a lot of defensemen have never done in the past, (such as) where he ends up (on a play). So it kind of screws up your system … (that’s) what MVP guys do: They put a wrinkle in your system.”

It’s not an “if” anymore. It’s a “when,” like the primary snow on Beaver Creek or Dick Monfort genuflecting to season ticket holders after he’s robbed them blind. Cale Makar and the Hart Memorial Trophy, offered yearly to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, are destined to be collectively.

In simply 178 regular-season video games, the 23-year-old Albertan has wolfed up NHL awards the way in which Pac-Man gobbles pellets — wrangling the Calder Trophy as a rookie in ’19-20; then the Norris (a franchise first) and Conn Smythe trophies in ’21-22.

When Wayne Gretzky likens you to the good Bobby Orr on national television, there’s nowhere to go however up, child. And no place to cover.

“With the fact that Cale can play 28 minutes a game and does what he does on the ice. I think it’s inevitable at (some) point that he does eventually win an MVP,” Turner Sports analyst Paul “Biz Nasty” Bissonnette stated of No. 8, who’ll lead the opening salvo of Colorado’s Stanley Cup title protection on Wednesday at Ball Arena.

“What I really like in regards to the league now’s you simply have all these high guys — the (Auston) Matthews, the (Leon) Draisaitl and (Connor) McDavid, they’re all pushing one another. They’re all type-A guys that simply need to be one of the best participant on the ice each single evening. And they drive one another … you see extra of a lot of these video-game-(like) gamers arising, the place all they do is eat, breathe and sleep hockey.

“So I would definitely say that Makar will have an MVP in the next five seasons. Whether it’s this year, I don’t know.”

The nice ones blow up performs. Makar blows minds.

“Gretzky last year … I think Gretz had Cale Makar as his MVP, just for the impact he’s made night-in, night-out, with the amount of ice (he has) to carry,” Bissonnette continued. “If he stays healthy this year, and we see what we saw in the second half of (last) season, and in the postseason, he’s definitely going to raise (the Hart). It’s hard to deny.”

And more durable to win, particularly in case you play alongside the blue line. Only two defensemen since 1972 — a 50-year span — have snatched the Hart Trophy: The Blues’ Chris Pronger in 2000 and the aforementioned Orr after the ’71-’72 season.

The 6-foot-6 Pronger was a beast 22 years again: 62 factors and a league-best plus-52 plus/minus score whereas averaging greater than half-hour of ice time per evening.

While you gotta love the massive lug for plastering Justin Bieber’s face all around the boards in a star sport 5 years in the past, Pronger’s finest general season, wherein he averaged 0.79 factors per sport, pales offensively to the bar Makar retains elevating each winter.


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