The online Fan Vote for the Hobey Baker Award means very little in the grand scheme. It accounts for something like 1% of the final voting, so there is no real effect on the final outcome. And for good reason. Schools are allowed to submit as many as three nominees for the fan vote leading to a wide range of candidates of varying suitability and anybody can vote once per day with the relative ease of just two or three clicks.
Which brings us to this year’s vote, where the current leader of the fan vote is none other than Army junior forward Colin Bilek. As of writing this, getting almost one out of every four votes cast at 23.5% of the total vote.
Bilek is having a terrific season for the Black Knights. He’s second in the nation with 16 goals scored in 19 games played and has helped his team to a 13-5-1 record, which is far and away the best winning percentage in school history. He’s having an excellent season and will likely keep the Hobey committee from having to strain to include a top-10 finalist from Atlantic Hockey this year.
But how did a player that, all due respect, even most college hockey fans have never heard of end up with an overwhelming plurality of online votes?
To understand how Colin Bilek ended up in first place, you have to understand who is currently in second place for the Hobey Baker fan vote. That would be Wisconsin’s Cole Caufield. Caufield, of course, currently leads the nation in both goals scored(22) and total points(42). He’s one of the handful of favorites for the award, and if we’re being honest, should probably win the award this year. Add to that that Caufield had the backing of the Wisconsin fanbase, arguably one of the biggest in college hockey, and the Montreal Canadiens fanbase, who view their 2019 first round pick as a potential savior for the once-proud franchise that has languished with just one trip beyond the second round of the playoffs in the past decade.
Between those two groups, there was enough excitement to push Caufield out to an early lead in the Hobey Fan Vote, as one would expect. That’s where things got interesting.
A certain segment of the Toronto Maple Leafs internet fanbase, presumably sick of hearing of hearing Canadiens fans crowing about their golden prospect, decided to coalesce around Colin Bilek to keep Caufield from winning the fan vote.
Make sure you guys vote for Colin Bilek https://t.co/kZR2nst717— Holl 4 Norris (@LeafsAllDayy) February 16, 2021
Colin Bilek is an honorary Toronto Maple Leaf today— ThewsTML (@ThewsTml) February 17, 2021
Every Leafs Fan cast your vote for Colin Bilek! https://t.co/elXaRFyKs8— Jay (@HymanHustles) February 16, 2021
And apparently those Leafs fans seem to have voted in significant numbers.
It’s worth noting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have their own prospect nominated for the Hobey Baker fan vote in St. Cloud State freshman Veeti Miettinen, who is having a fantastic freshman season and could end up being a very similar player to Cole Caufield. But more important to the Leafs’ fans behind the vote was the trolling/memery/lulz of picking some a random player over Montreal’s golden child. You almost have to appreciate the pettiness.
So that’s the story. Maple Leafs fans wanted to stick it to Canadiens fans so they picked a random guy to boost above Cole Caufield in an online poll.
Fan voting continues until March 8th, and again, means very little, for very, very good reason.