Carlson's greatness may never be full appreciated


This was John Carlson's moment to shine. 

The Norris Trophy should've been a moment for a great Capital to truly be recognized for what he's accomplished in Washington. Instead, it went to Predators defenseman Roman Josi. Yes, Carlson was named to the First All-Star Team, but selfishly, I wanted more. We all did. Anyone who cares about this team. 

I worry Carlson's greatness will never truly be appreciated.

Now, before you start typing an angry tweet about that statement, let me explain. 

As long as Alex Ovechkin is a member of the Washington Capitals, Carlson will always be in his shadow. An individual award isn't everything, sure, but it would've gone a long way when it came to national recognition for Carlson, or even just with the casual fan.

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This is far too often how it goes in sports though. Great players that just so happen to be on the same team as an all-time great, tend to almost get lost in the shuffle more than they should. 

Think about it, this season Carlson led all defensemen in points with 75 (which was ten more than Josi by the way), assists (60), and set or tied career highs in every offensive category. He averaged over a point per game (1.09 to be exact), the most by a defenseman since the 1993-94 season.


He was on pace for a ridiculous 89 points. If we'd had a normal end to the season and he'd reached the milestone, Carlson would've been just the tenth defenseman in history to rack up that many points in an NHL season. This was HIS time and would have been the cherry on top of a brilliant career.

Did his play fall off some in the second half? Sure. Just like the rest of his team. And Carlson was clearly hobbled in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And his supporting cast wasn't what it was two years ago. It was a great season and there's no shame in finishing second in the Norris voting, but Carlson had the trophy on lockdown at mid-season.

Any other arguments for any other player felt silly. Credit Roman Josi for continuing to play well. The analytics even said he had the better overall season - though putting up video-game numbers we haven't seen in the NHL since the early 90s should have trumped all of that in the end.

It's just another instance of Carlson not quite getting his due. He was the best defenseman on a Stanley Cup champion. He scored the OT gold-medal game-winner for the United States as a cocky teenager at the World Juniors in Canada in 2010. Before that, he won a Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears in 2009. He's a champion.      

Now you may be saying "But Nick, I love John Carlson. I don't overlook him ever." Good. I wish more fans were like you. 

So much of this season before the shut down was Ovechkin and his chase for 700. Yes, Carlson's really hot start tapered off a bit into just a warm stretch, and yes Carlson was getting some credit for the numbers he was putting up, but Ovi is and always will be the ultimate Capital. 

This by the way isn't me ripping anyone either, it's just pointing out the reality of their dynamic with the franchise, the fanbase, and the NHL as a whole. Ovi is a once-in-a-lifetime player. If he sneezes, people care.

I'd like to see someone that has Carlson's talent get more recognition on a national stage, and by the more casual fan. It's great for him and the Capitals franchise. The team is different with him on the ice. They're clearly better.

I see it, you may see it, but he deserves to have everyone see it.