Boston College forward Nathan Gerbe is getting plenty of support in the media for his fine statistical season on Chestnut Hill. The gifted speedster just posted one of the most prolific tears in recent NCAA memory with 27 points in nine games, yet the gap between he and top-ranked Kevin Porter (PHX) of Michigan in CSTV's Hobey Watch is rather wide. Porter is a great player in his own right, but it's dumbfounding how Gerbe cannot garner one first-place vote from the CSTV panel. From hobeybaker.com:
Hobey Baker Memorial Award Criteria 1. Candidates must exhibit strength of character both on and off the ice. 2. Candidates must contribute to the integrity of the team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game. 3. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportmanship. 4. Candidates must comply with all NCAA rules: be full time students in an accredited NCAA college or university; and complete 50% or more of the season.Gerbe's aforementioned praise comes while being criticized for incidents of questionable behavior on the ice. Essentially a blend of the NHL's Lady Byng and Hart trophies, fans should wonder which carries more weight when reading various Hobey forecasts. Let's not be ignorant and suggest that the feisty forward fits the trophy's criteria to a T. He doesn't. He has the character and skills of the first two points. I'm assuming he's compliant with #4. It's the sketchiness of #3 that causes his detractors to claim that he'd misrepresent what the trophy stands for. The great namesake of the Hobey was called for only one penalty during his career at Princeton from 1911-1914. Gerbe has 21 minutes this year alone, but it's still just the eighth-most on the Eagles squad. Even Porter himself has 18 for the Wolverines. The astute hockey fan knows this isn't about penalty minutes anyways. The same set also knows that the game of hockey has changed quite a bit in 94 years. The sport's pace and style demand that a player who's often half-a-foot shorter than his foe doesn't back down. Gerbe's game of skill isn't lacking physicality, something he'll need to continue exuding as a pro. This is really all Sabres fans should be concerned with at this point. Don't get me wrong. Hockey can do without the occasional dive and chirping between whistles. Butt-ending an opponent, like Gerbe did against Merrimack to earn a one-game suspension earlier this year, is a dishonorable thing to do on the ice. I'm not excited that he had been warned about his behavior prior to the suspension, though I wonder if Gerbe was more guilty of retaliating in that particular instance. Merrimack has played a chippy brand in the past, and that particular night saw Eagles goalie John Muse get run, and senior forward Dan Bertram get knocked out of the game by a checking from behind misconduct. It's hard to say when Gerbe's infraction took place because he wasn't penalized for it during the game. I've been critical of Gerbe until this season. I've wanted to see a balanced, dominating presence from the Oxford, MI native, and that's exactly what coach Jerry York has gotten in a season that has seen the suspension of upperclassmen Brett Motherwell (has since left the program) and Brian O'Hanley, and injuries to junior forward Brock Bradford. Gerbe's 1.71 points-per-game is tops in the country, with his 18 goals landing him 5th on the national list. He's a double digit guy in the plus column, and his three short-handed goals are second in the NCAA. Nathan Gerbe is a player with immense talent and heart, much like Hobey Baker. If he doesn't exemplify college hockey's top boy scout to a few media members, so be it. His future is looking to be pointed straight at the NHL, something the coveted award doesn't guarantee.