Should the OHL Change the Way It Hands Out Awards?

The Red Tilson Trophy is handed out to the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player. Since it is the only award voted on by OHL Sportswriters and Broadcasters (yours truly has submitted his vote), I am going to focus strictly on that award.

The process as it stands now has each of the twenty OHL Teams submit their nominee for the most outstanding player and the sportswriters and broadcasters vote on their first, second and third place choices from that list of twenty. Write in ballots are not allowed.

CHL Awards, may 30th, 2015
Connor McDavid, CHL Awards, May 30th, 2015. Photo courtesy of OHL Images

Is that a fair process? I’m not sure that it is. Two specific examples I cite that will suggest a change is needed:

First, the Erie Otters nominated goaltender Devin Williams as their most outstanding player. I’m not suggesting that Williams is not worthy of recognition, he is, but I would argue that so are Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. Will allowing the three Otters to be eligible “split” the vote? Maybe, but it also has the effect of having writers and broadcasters that don’t see Williams as their most outstanding players vote for an alternative, at least in some circumstances.

Second, Mitch Marner is the London Knights’ nominee and I can’t find anyone who doesn’t think that his teammate Christian Dvorak should receive consideration. Knights Assistant General Manager Rob Simpson told the London Free Press “We actually flipped a coin to decide because the league came back and told us we couldn’t put two on the ballot and we couldn’t come to a decision because they should both be on there.”

Is there something wrong with having two Otters or two Knights finishing first and second?

With all due respect to the players in the OHL, but are the players I’ve mentioned not more deserving than nominees from the Sudbury Wolves, Guelph Storm, Hamilton Bulldogs or Flint Firebirds whose teams didn’t qualify for the playoffs?

I have confidence in the knowledge of the OHL writers and broadcasters to make the right choice in an open ballet. I think we’d see a different result if an open ballet were allowed over the “controlled” vote we have today. I can only speak for myself, but I know my votes would have been different if everyone were to be eligible.

It’s time for a change.

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