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PHWA on Ovechkin all-star vote controversy: ‘We know we got this wrong’

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On Wednesday, it was revealed that Professional Hockey Writers Association votes gave Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin two spots on the NHL All-Star Team roster: As a first-team right wing, a position he played throughout the 2012-13 season, and as a second-team left wing, a position he had played throughout his career.

This led to Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers getting snubbed as a second-team left wing, and potentially losing some money in the process.

It also led to immediate backlash against the PHWA for this baffling vote, including a spreadsheet complied by blogger Tyler Dellow that detailed “Voters Who Knew Ovechkin Played RW.”

Kevin Allen, president of the PHWA, released a statement later that day to clarify, and rectify, the situation:

“It was the Professional Hockey Writers Association's recommendation that its members vote for Alex Ovechkin on the right wing, the position he played in the vast majority of his games this season.

“Prior to ballots being issued, we emailed a memo to our members reminding them of Ovechkin's position switch in 2012-13. But 45 of our members chose to vote for him on the left wing, the position he had played for many years. It is also the position listed for him on NHL.com.

“We are troubled by the all-star voting results, and plan to take a closer look at the events that led to Ovechkin winning All-Star acclaim at two positions. We know we got this wrong, and our objective is to make sure it never happens again.

“Even before this confusion was revealed, the PHWA had already planned a study of our voting process. At our annual meeting in New York, a committee was formed to look at all voting issues, including transparency and eligibility. The committee includes Mark Spector (Sportsnet.ca), Craig Custance (ESPN.com), Mike Russo (Minneapolis Star-Tribune), Nick Cotsonika (Yahoo.com), Bruce Garrioch (Ottawa Sun) and Frank Seravalli (Philadelphia Daily News).

“That group will also review this situation to see what can be done to eliminate this in the future.”

Having attended that meeting, I can second that a full evaluation of the PHWA’s voting process and transparency is underway. It’s not just lip service; there were important questions about the way things are currently done, and whether the group’s integrity is at risk if the voting process isn’t refined.

Lord knows it took a hit with Ovechkin’s double-duty on the all-star team.

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