The last Red Wing to win the Hart Memorial Trophy for "the player judged most valuable to his team" was Sergei Fedorov in the 93-94 season. At this point in the season, it is safe to say he will continue to be the last Red Wing to win it.
But should he be?
Jimmy Howard won’t win a regular season award this year, but he should be in contention for the Hart. He is 7th in GAA (for goalies with over 25 games played) and 8th in save percentage. Those stats alone won’t win you more than a pat on the back from your coach, but the Hart isn't the award for the goalie with the best stats (that’s the Vezina). The Hart is for the player judged most valuable to his team.
The Red Wings are currently inside the playoffs with their fate in their own hands. This is not because of their offense which is 21st in the league with just 2.48 goals per game. Not even the most diehard Wings fan will argue that their defensive core is strong. With the loss of Lidstrom and Stewart in the off-season, their only NHL proven defenseman is Kronwall. Despite Ken Hollands best attempts; he couldn't obtain another top line defenseman, so Kronwall has been skating with the turnover machine Ericsson all season. To make things worse, there was only a week and a half of preseason to teach the systems to Lashoff (first season with the team) Smith, Kindl, and White (in their second seasons with the Wings) and two new defensemen to the team in Quincy and Colaiacovo. The Wings were lucky to get DeKeyser to sign with them, but he too will make rookie mistakes that will have you swearing at the TV and scaring the dogs (or is that just me?).
So why are the Red Wings 7th in goals against per game? Jimmy Howard. Howard has had to stand on his head and make the big saves every game this season. Howard has been left on his own to fend off breakaways and has single handedly stolen a couple of W’s for us. He hasn't had the easy goalie jobs in the past years facing single digit shots (good ol crazy Hasak). No, Howard has had on average over 27 shots a game, and is still rocking the stellar .922 save percentage.
So will Howard win the Hart this year? No. But let’s all take a minute to appreciate that without Howard this year; we would be talking about the upcoming lottery, and not the playoffs.
Howard is the Hart of the Red Wings.