The Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player that is judged most valuable to his team, as deemed by a panel of esteemed voters. It is the MVP award for the NHL. Over the years, many of hockey’s best have hoisted the trophy such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr.
In fact, the Hart Memorial Trophy may be the most prestigious award in sports history, as it has been awarded for 90 years and has generally been a good indicator of the best player in a given year. In addition to its longevity, the award is one of the few in sports that almost guarantees that all winners go on to join the Hockey Hall of Fame. In fact, of the 54 players who have won the award, all but 3 of the eligible players have gone on to join the Hall of Fame.
This means that the list of players who have taken home the Hart Memorial Trophy is littered with some of the greatest players to ever play the game.
That makes coming up with this list even harder. This list will look to name ten of the worst players to ever win the Hart Memorial Trophy. This was an extremely tough process as almost all of the Hart winners are among the best players in NHL history, so some good players are bound to appear on this list. So, we apologize if you don’t agree with some of the players listed.
The criteria used for selection consisted of things such as: their career before and after the Hart season, their comparison to other players that year and how they measure up to other Hart winners.
The list was not easy to compile, but here it is, the top ten worst NHLers to win the Hart Memorial Trophy.
10 Babe Siebert in 1936/37
Siebert, originally of the Montreal Maroons, was known primarily as a fighter and aggravator, who offered little more than that to his teams early in his career. However, once he was traded to the Bruins and switched to defense, he had a career revitalization of sorts. This revitalization culminated in him winning the Hart trophy in 1936/37 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, despite only scoring 28 points in 44 games. He appears on this list because that season seemed to be a fluke, and he has never scored even 40 points in a season before.
9 Babe Pratt in 1943/44
Pratt was a talented all around defenceman who won the 1944 Hart Memorial Trophy as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pratt won an extremely close vote over Bill Cowley to win the award. Pratt finished with 26.93% of the votes and Cowley with 26.01%. Pratt appears on this list because while he was a talented and serviceable defenceman, he was never able to put up the points or have the success that you would expect from a Hart winner, apart from in that one season. He was also busted for gambling on hockey in 1946 and was suspended from the NHL, which puts a damper on his legacy.
8 Henrik Sedin in 2009/10
Now we get to a more recent winner of the award. Sedin won the Hart Memorial trophy in 2010 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Despite finishing with the league lead in points, there were some who felt the award should have gone to either Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby, as they outscored Sedin by over 20 goals. Sedin has been a talented star player in the league for the last decade, but his Canucks haven’t yet been able to taste a cup win. If they don't, it’s unlikely he’ll make the Hall of Fame
7 Chris Pronger in 1999/00
Chris Pronger was the first defenceman to win the award since Bobby Orr did so way back in 1972. Pronger won the award as a member of the St. Louis Blues. The 2000 Hart trophy vote was one of the closest of all time with Jaromir Jagr finishing only one vote behind Pronger, much to the dismay of many NHL fans. Pronger appears on this list because he was known primarily as a defensive defenceman who could lay body checks and impose his will. He is also known as one of the dirtiest players in NHL history. The voters got it wrong this year, as Jagr's 96 points or Pavel Bure's 58 goals should've taken it.
6 Tom Anderson in 1941/42
Tom Anderson, who won the award in 1942 with the Brooklyn Americans, is next up on the list. Anderson won the award in his final season in the NHL as a defenceman with a total of 41 points, the highest of his career. That 1942 season was also the first time in his 8 year career that Anderson even received votes for an award in the NHL. This shows that, despite being a serviceable player, he is not on the same level as many of the other players who have won this prestigious award.
5 Eric Lindros in 1994/95
Eric Lindros won the Hart Memorial trophy as a bright eyed 21 year old center with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1995. That 1994/95 season was shortened by a lockout, so that adds somewhat of an asterisk to this win. Throughout his career, Lindros was never able to return the same form as his Hart winning season. This is not entirely his fault, however, as his career has been littered with concussion related problems and injuries. He is also one of the three players who have won the Hart Memorial trophy but have not made the Hockey Hall of Fame.
4 Corey Perry in 2010/11
Corey Perry is another recent winner that appears on this list of the worst Hart winners of all time. Perry won the Hart as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2011 season. This season was the NHL version of a “one hit wonder” as Perry put up 98 points with 50 goals. Nowhere else in his career has Perry gotten up to even 90 points. Also, Perry’s next best showing in the race for the Hart trophy came in 2013/14, when he finished 13th in voting. While he did have a great season and is a more than capable player in the NHL, his MVP season was an aberration.
3 Jose Theodore in 2001/02
Now this one is another example of a player winning the Hart because of a down year in the NHL, as no one scored even 100 points. Theodore won the award in 2002 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, with a 30-24 record and a 2.11 GAA, as he pulled a lackluster team into the playoffs. This race was so close that both Theodore and Jaromie Iginla finished with the exact same number of votes with 434. Theodore got the nod because he had three more first place votes than Iginla. Theodore was never able to replicate this year and finished his career rather disappointingly by playing with four different teams in his final six years in the league.
2 Chuck Rayner in 1949/50
Chuck Rayner won the Hart Trophy in 1950, despite finishing with a fairly mediocre record of 28-30 with a GAA of 2.62. The argument made by voters is that his team deserved much of the scrutiny and that he was quite good. In fact, he led the Rangers to the cup final that year, but Rayner is extremely out of place among his Hart winning peers, as he never once had a winning record throughout his career, along with leading the league in loses in four different times.
1 Al Rollins in 1953/54
Now we have reached the worst player to win a Hart Memorial trophy. That accolade goes to goaltender Al Rollins who won the award in 1954 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. His record that year was a dismal 12-47 with a 3.23 GAA. We cannot think of a reason why the goalie of the worst team in the league should win the Hart. In fact, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Harry Lumley finished with better stats in every category and led his team to the playoffs, and would’ve been a much better candidate. No matter how you slice it, this man should not have won the Hart Memorial Trophy.