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NHL Awards: History of the NHL Trophies

As I wrote the morning papers this week and I perused many articles talking about the various NHL trophies that were to be awarded tonight, and all the names associated with these trophies, I felt it was necessary to do a bit of research into the history of these names.  Who was Conn Smythe?  Can anyone tell me anything about Art Ross?  Who were these luminaries that the NHL felt merited the honor of having their names immoratilized on a trophy dedicated to excellence.

All pictures were provided by the Hockey Hall of Fame and the trophy descriptions come from

IC contributor’s Ezzy and Kyle have added their picks and thoughts as to who they think will win tonight.

Hart Memorial Trophytrophy hartlg 

The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the National Hockey League in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1923 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens

The trophy is presented to the most valuable player in the National Hockey League during the regular season.

Award Nominees:  Datsyuk(Det), Malkin(Pitt), Ovechkin (Wash).

David’s Winner:  Alexander Ovechkin.  Without Datsyuk and Malkin both those teams would have been worse but could have maintained.  Not so in Washington.
Ezra’s Winner:  Evgeni Malkin.  Malkin led the NHL in regular season scoring with 113 points (career-high) yet he is still considered an underdog to Alexander Ovechkin in this category heading into tonight’s NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.  Despite a few weaknesses in his defensive game this season, Malkin’s offensive dominance (especially on the power play) was integral to Pittsburgh’s colossal
late-season turnaround.
Kyle’s Winner: Evgeni Malkin.


Calder Memorial Trophytrophy calderlg

From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, Frank Calder, NHL President, bought a trophy each year to be given permanently to the outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the NHL presented the Calder Memorial Trophy in his memory and the trophy is to be kept in perpetuity.

It is awarded to the National Hockey League player judged to be the most proficient in his first season.

Award Nominees: Ryan (Ana), Mason (CbJ), Versteeg (Chi).

David’s Winner:  Steve Mason.  What he did on an average Columbus team is quite impressive.
Ezra’s Winner: Steve Mason.  It was unfortunate that the Blue Jackets were bounced so quickly by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2009 Playoffs, because it seemed like nothing could go wrong for Steve Mason in 2009. Or rather, everything seemed to go right for Steve Mason in 2009.  What did he do and why should he win this trophy? He led the Blue Jackets to their first ever playoff appearance at the tender age of 20, he finished first in the NHL in shutouts (10), was second in save percentage (.916) and was consistent every night on a pretty medicore team. That’s why.
Kyle’s Winner: Steve Mason.

Update:  Steve Mason wins.  All 3 IC contributors were correct.

James Norris Memorial Trophy:trophy norrislg

The trophy is named in honour of James E. Norris, owner of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings from 1932 to 1952.

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.

Award Nominees: Chara (Bos), Green (Wash), Lidstrom (Det).

David’s Winner: Mike Green.  Finished with 73 points and a +24. 
Ezra’s Winner:  Mike Green.  Green’s numbers this past regular season (31 goals, 42 assists, 73 points) resemble those of a first-line forward more so than a defenseman.  Regardless, in becoming only the eighth defenseman in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in a season, he has reinvented the position and should get recognized with his first piece of major hardware Thursday night.
Kyle’s Winner: Zdeno Chara.

Vezina Trophy: trophy vezinalg

The trophy is named in memory of in memory of Georges Vezina, an outstanding goalkeeper of the Canadiens, who collapsed during an NHL game Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later.

It is given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.

Award Nominees: Backstrom (Minn), Mason (CBJ), Thomas (Bos).

David’s Winner: Tim Thomas.  Had the best save % of the 3 and the lowest GAA.  Helped turn around a Bruins team that finished 8th the season previous.
Ezra’s Winner:  Tim Thomas.  Thomas’ Europe-to-North America story has been well documented and his emergence as a world class Number-1 NHL goaltender has CBC movie written all over it. Thomas led the Killer B’s to a first-place finish in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and finished the season with absolutely tantalizing numbers (36 wins, 2.10 GAA, .933 Save Percentage, Thanks Wikipedia!). Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets will get some votes, but the 2008’09 crease belonged to Timmy Thomas.
Kyle’s Winner: Tim Thomas.

Jack Adams Awardtrophy jackadamslg

The award was presented by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association in 1974 to commemorate the late Jack Adams, former coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings. His lifetime dedication to hockey has served as an inspiration to all who aspire to further the game.

It is given to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.

Award Nominees:  Julien (Bos), McLellan (SanJ), Murray (St.L).

David’s Winner: Claude Julien.  This is a tough one.  I could have easily said Murray for his turn around of the Blues but I think that Claude Julien did the best job over the course of the entire season.
Ezra’s Winner:  Andy Murray.  I’ve said many times on The Radio Show that Murray should win the Jack Adams trophy so I believe my prediction speaks for itself here.
Kyle’s Winner:  Claude Julien.

Frank J. Selke Trophytrophy frankjselkelg

It was named after Frank J. Selke, former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Selke Trophy was the fifth and last of the major NHL awards to be introduced that have been named after General Managers and owners of the Original Six teams

It is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

Award Nominees: Datsyuk (Det), Kesler (Van), Richards (Phi).

David’s Winner: Pavel Datsyuk.  I saw him 4 times this year and he is magic in Detroit’s end.  He finished 2nd in takeaways (89), had a +34 rating, and was fourth (97 points) in league scoring.
Ezra’s Winner:  Mike Richards.  The pride of Kenora, Ontario carries the tough-as-nails torch in Philly on his own now and leads by example on the ice with his impeccable defensive awareness. Richards is quite simply the best young two-way player in the game. His seven shorthanded goals this season really stand out.
Kyle’s Winner:  Ryan Kesler.

Update:  Pavel Datsyuk wins. 

Lady Byng Trophytrophy ladybynglg

Lady Byng was the wife of Canada’s Governor-General.  After Lady Byng’s death in 1949, the National Hockey League presented a new trophy, changing the name to Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

It is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

Award Nominees: Datsyuk (Det), Parise (NJD), St. Louis (TB).

David’s Winner:  Martin St. Louis.  This trophy has been owned by Datsyuk for the past 3 seasons but I think St. Louis who had a measley 14 minutes in penalties in 82 games will win this year.  Extra bonus for him if he does win as it is his 34th birthday today.
Ezra’s Winner:  Zach Parise.  Parise is a huge undedog to Pavel Datsyuk here but I still feel he deserves the trophy. Parise is one of the classiest guys in the NHL and plays a clean, physical game. He might not be the shutdown forward that Datsyuk is at this stage of his career, but Parise is nonethless a gentleman and a scholar.
Kyle’s Winner:  Pavel Datsyuk.

Update:  Pavel Datsyuk takes it home….again. 

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophytrophy billmastersonlg

The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers’ Association in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited, to a high degree, the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, after an injury sustained during a hockey game.

It is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

Award Nominees: Chelios (Det), Sullivan (Nash), Zednik (Fla).

David’s Winner:  Richard Zednik.  This is a tough selection because I could go with either Sullivan or Zednik.  Both have come back and made imporant impacts on their respective teams.
Ezra’s Winner:  Steve Sullivan.  Sullivan will be in tough against Richard Zednik in this category but he should win because of the simple fact that he posted solid regular season numbers (32 points in 41 games) after missing 142 straight regular season games. Sullivan is a natural born leader who is unselfish both on and off the ice. He scores at close to a point-a-game clip too which doesn’t hurt either.
Kyle’s Winner: Richard Zednik.

Lester B. Pearson Award:trophy lesterbpearsonlg

The award was first handed out at the conclusion of the 1971–72 NHL season. It is named in honour of Lester B. Pearson, who was Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968, the recipient of the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, and a former player and coach for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s ice hockey team.

The award is presented annually to the “most outstanding player” in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Award Nominees:  Datsyuk(Det), Malkin(Pitt), Ovechkin (Wash).


Art Ross Awardtrophy artrosslg

Although Art Ross is primarily remembered as an executive with the Boston Bruins hockey club, he is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame not as a builder, but as a player.

Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin will receive the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring champion.

Maurice Richard Trophy:   trophy richardlg

The Rocket Richard Trophy was donated by the Montreal Canadiens hockey club in 1999 to honour their outstanding star and ambassador, Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard.

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will be presented with this trophy as top goal scorer in the NHL. 

William Jennings Trophytrophy jenningslg

This trophy was presented in 1981-82 by the NHL Board of Governors to honour the late William M. Jennings, longtime governor and president of the New York Rangers and one of the key builders of hockey in the U.S.

Boston Bruins’ tandem of Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez will accept the trophy as the goaltenders for the club finishing the season having surrendered the fewest goals.

Seeing these pictures reminded me of collecting hockey cards back in the late 1980’s.  I even dug through the storage to find my old 1988 Esso All-Star collection booklet. (if anyone has a spare Larry Robinson from page 18, I would appreciate it).

And I found the insert which spurred this article in the first place.

I’ve never been a guy who was big on change.  I’m also not for forgetting your history.  The people who these trophies are named after were integral players in the early development of the game that we all love.  I for one, am not for forgetting your history.