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Comeback Player of the Year


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The last time the Victory Hockey League introduced a new award for players was back in Season 59, when the Greg Clegane, Alexander Valiq, and Jake Wylde Trophies made their debuts. While I don't necessarily think we need more awards, it never hurts to have consider new ideas. One idea would be Comeback Player of the Year. Obviously this isn't very wild or inventive. It is something that exists in several sports leagues, but it is not something that we have ever had in the VHL. I do think there are arguments against such an award, but I will get into that later. The criteria for such an award would be pretty clear, but not so clear that the winner would always be cut and dry. The voters would select who they feel had a down year or two and returned to form in the current season.


If such an award were to be made official, I do think a clarification would have to be made to the Dustin Funk Trophy, which is awarded to the most improved player. While I do think both of these awards could exist together, I do not think that a player should ever be winning both of them in the same season. When considering Funk Trophy candidates, I personally believe that a player's whole career should be taken into account, not just last seasons compared to the current season. For example, If a player has a down year of 70 points after a couple seasons of 90, and then shoots up to 110, I think you have to look at what they had done before. Such a career path could make for a good candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. To be honest, my take on the Funk Trophy is actually part of the reason I would like to potentially see a Comeback Player of the Year award be introduced.

If I'm going to bring up the idea, it's only natural that I would have some thoughts on candidates. So let's get into that.


Andrew Su  @Da_Berr

From Season 74 to Season 77, Andrew Su averaged 45.25 goals and 111.75 points per season. A two-time MVP, Su is a surefire Hall of Famer. A year ago, however, he had just 82 points. He did still score 37 goals, which was not a huge drop off, but he was outside of the top twenty in the league. This season, he has matched his goal total already with 11 games to go. He is back in the top ten in goals scored and is on pace to reach 40 once again, though he'll have to increase his production to reach 100 points. Su has definitely had a bit of a return to form, and with a strong finish he could definitely be considered, though truthfully I don't know if it is quite enough.


John Merrick @Steve
Season 75 was the best of John Merrick's career on almost all counts. He had 45 goals, 62 assists, 109 hits, and 42 shots blocked. He led the league in points and was second in goals. These are all marks he has not topped since, and the 107 points that season are 23 more than his next closest, which was actually his rookie season. He has been a consistently average player, with his other seasons all ranging from 75 to 84 points. This season, he is back up over 100 points, and with 12 games left, it's likely that he will set a new career best. In all of the aforementioned stats, this season will at least be his second best. He is currently second in assists and fourth in points.


The Terrible Trivium @der meister
The Terrible Trivium has never been a star player, but last season was particularly bad compared to some of his earlier seasons, as opposed to the earlier two who went from having at least one very strong season prior to being average. Trivium's best season was Season 77, with 41 goals and 93 points. He followed this up with career lows of 26 goals and 54 points. Now, in his seventh season in the VHL, he has rebounded. In 59 games, he has 37 goals, putting him on pace to reach 45. He could also get back up to 90 points. His career has been very up-and-down as a whole, but in the last three seasons he could very likely be going from his best to his worst and then back up to a new best.


Truthfully, I don't think any of these players are clear-cut winners of the award, and there very well might be others out there who are better options. I don't even know which of these three I would go with. If Su were having a better season and actually getting back to ranking near the very top in offensive stats, I'd probably go with him. If Merrick had one more peak season, making his one earlier season look like less of a fluke year, then I'd likely point to him. Trivium already having a very inconsistent career just makes me think he isn't returning to form, he's just simply having one of his up years. I do think having multiple candidates worthy of selection but not having an obvious choice does make for a good award because it can generate discussion amongst those who have different opinions.


As I mentioned earlier, there is a case to be made against this award. One big thing is that we don't have injuries. Players coming back from being hurt are often going to make for strong cases for being the Comeback Player of the Year. We cannot possibly have story lines like that, and players are never really going to go from a lot of playing time to a little, and back to a lot. This is a sim league, where players are for the most part going to just get better until they possibly get worse due to depreciation, at which point they don't go back to getting better from one season to the next. While I think there are compelling candidates for this season, this is an award where we could have seasons with no one who really deserves the award.


In conclusion, I'm not sure if this is an award worth making. The qualifications for it would be more up-to-interpretation than most awards that we have. I do think some research into what prior winners would look like would be necessary, because we would want to make sure it is going to have legitimate winners each season. It is something that I think is worth talking about when there are players who fit the bill.



1117 words; claiming for weeks ending 8/22 and 8/29

Edited by scoop
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