NHL·The Buzzer

Don't trust anyone over 30 (to win the NHL scoring title)

Today's edition of our newsletter looks at the surprisingly young age of the typical Art Ross Trophy winner. Plus, a big NHL contract extension and the latest from the WTA Finals.

The typical Art Ross Trophy winner is younger than you might think

Marty St. Louis: one of the few old guys you could trust. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Here's what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

The NHL scoring race is no country for old men

Connor McDavid is set to play in his 300th NHL regular-season game tonight. He's already won two scoring titles and an MVP, and he's racked up 393 points. That works out to 1.31 per game — tied with Marcel Dionne for the fifth-best rate ever among guys who have played at least as many games as McDavid has. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Bobby Orr piled up points at a better clip. Pretty impressive.

Plus, you might be thinking, McDavid isn't even close to his prime yet. He doesn't turn 23 until January. His best seasons are still ahead of him. He'll be piling up massive point totals for at least another decade — and probably longer.

All that might turn out to be true. But hockey is more of a young man's game than you might think. In fact, when it comes to predicting scoring champions, you shouldn't trust anyone over 30. Consider:

  • In the 71 years since the NHL started awarding the Art Ross Trophy to the player with the most points, someone past his age-30 season has won it only six times.
  • If we throw out the lockout-shortened 2013 season, when 37-year-old Marty St. Louis won the scoring title in an old-guy-friendly 48-game schedule, the oldest Art Ross winner is 34-year-old Gordie Howe. His full-season age record has stood for more than six decades — surprising if you assume that modern training methods, diets, etc., should extend players' primes.
  • Even the all-time greats have struggled to win the scoring title in the back end of their careers. Just one of Gretzky's record 10 Art Ross trophies came after age 30 (he was 33 in 1993-94). Lemieux picked up his sixth and last one at age 31 in 1996-97. Phil Esposito and Jaromir Jagr were 31 and 28, respectively, when they won their fifth and final scoring titles.
  • The average age of the 71 Art Ross winners is 25.8. Since the 2004-05 lockout, it's 25.3. And it's 24.4 if you toss that lockout-shortened season.

Look, no one is saying Connor McDavid is going to be washed in a couple of years. He's going to be very good for a very long time. Just know that his scoring prime might come and go faster than you expect. So enjoy it.

Hat tip to hockey-reference.com for this handy page listing all the Art Ross winners.

Also a very trustworthy person... when he wasn't elbowing someone in the head. (Doug Ball/Canadian Press)

Quickly...

The Nashville Predators gave their captain a ton of money. Roman Josi signed an eight-year extension worth just over $9 million US per year. This keeps him from becoming a free agent next summer. Josi is a good defenceman, but he's also 29. So there's a good chance the Preds regret this deal on the back end. Read more about the contract here.

Naomi Osaka quit the WTA Finals. After winning her round-robin opener, the world's No. 3 player pulled out before today's match because of a shoulder injury. She was replaced by alternate Kiki Bertens, who seized the opportunity by beating top-ranked Ash Barty. Despite coming in late, Bertens still has a chance to qualify for the semifinals if she wins her last round-robin match. But a few things are working against her: she doesn't inherit Osaka's win, and number of matches played is the first tiebreaker for deciding who advances. In doubles action today, Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and her Chinese teammate Yifan Xu fell to 0-2. Read about all of today's results here.

Bianca Andreescu plays her second match of the WTA Finals tomorrow. She faces No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova around 8 a.m. ET. Both players lost their opener, and Andreescu was hampered by a sore lower back. Another loss would be devastating to her chances of advancing. Quick viewing note: we mentioned in our explainer on how the tournament works that the only way to watch it in Canada is via the streaming service DAZN. That's true for English. But TVA Sports has the French-language rights, so you can watch on that channel if you get it. Thanks to reader Brian for pointing this out.

The NCAA might finally allow athletes to make money off their fame. The organization that oversees college sports in the U.S. decided it should start letting athletes "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness." It's unclear what will be allowed, though. The NCAA said it wants to protect its amateurism rules, competitive balance and "the values of college sports" (whatever that means). This move comes just after California passed a law making it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to stop athletes from earning money from things like endorsements, autograph signings and social media advertising. Read more about the NCAA's move here.

The World Series can end tonight. For that to happen, the home team will have to win for the first time. Washington took the first two games in Houston, then Houston returned the favour with three straight wins in D.C. The Astros will be hoping for another first-time occurrence tonight: a World Series win by starting pitcher Justin Verlander. The future hall of famer and 2019 Cy Young Award candidate is 0-5 with a bloated 5.73 ERA in six career starts in the Fall Classic. Which is strange because he's 14-5 in the rest of his post-season appearances. Washington's hopes of staying alive rest on Stephen Strasburg, who has a 1.34 lifetime ERA in the post-season and threw six good innings to get the win in Game 2.

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