Canada's Hockey Experience

The NHL trophies, part 2

The Stanley Cup may be the most prestigious trophy in hockey, but several others are also highly prized in the NHL.

The President’s Cup was first awarded in 1985–86 to the team with the best record during the regular season. Edmonton Oilers won it in its inaugural season.

The Conference final winners are given the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and the Prince of Wales Trophy.

The Campbell award was first given to the West Division winner in 1968. However, it was first crafted out of sterling silver by a British silversmith in 1878. Since 1994 it has been passed on to the Western Conference winner — the most recent winner being Chicago Blackhawks.

The Prince of Wales, late King Edward VIII, donated the award named in his honour in 1924. From 1927 to 1938 it was given to the top team in the American Division. Since 1994, the Wales has been given to the Eastern Conference since 1994. Philadelphia Flyers won it most recently.

Individual awards start with the Art Ross Trophy, given to the league’s highest scorer. It’s named for one of the first inductees in the Hall. Ross played with the pre-NHL Cup-winning Kenora Thistles in 1906-07 and followed that with a Montreal Wanderers win the next season. Those were as a player, but as a coach he won Stanley Cups with Boston Bruins.

The Art Ross Trophy was established for the 1947–48 season.

Next is the Hart Trophy named for Dr. David Hart, father of Montreal Canadiens coach Cecil Hart. It is awarded to the player deemed most valuable to their team and is chosen by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. It’s the oldest individual accolade, first given to Frank Nighbor of Ottawa Senators in 1923–24. The original trophy was retired and the new Hart Memorial Trophy was first awarded in 1960 to Gordie Howe of Detroit Red Wings.

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is named for the businessman who purchased the Detroit franchise and renamed it the Red Wings. It was first awarded to the league’s top defenceman, Red Kelly of Detroit, after the 1953-54 season.

In 1925 the Governor General’s wife donated a trophy in her name to the NHL. The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is given to the player displaying premiere sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct while performing at a high standard. After Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers won the award seven times in the first 11 years, Lady Byng gave him the original trophy and then donated a second trophy for 1935–36. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk has won it for four of the most recent five years.

The Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year was named for the NHL’s first president Frank Calder and was first awarded to Carl Voss of Detroit Red Wings for the 1932–33 season. The oldest player to win it was Sergei Makarov of the Calgary Flames in 1989–90. He was 31.

Emblazoned with a silver Maple Leaf Gardens on a wood base, the Conn Smythe Trophy — named for the man who created the Toronto Maple Leafs — is awarded to the player judged to be the top performer during the playoffs. The first honouree was Montreal Canadiens’ Jean Beliveau in 1964–65.

Only one Maple Leafs has claimed the trophy: Dave Keon in 1966–67 — also the last season Leafs Nation saw Lord Stanley’s prize.

For the men between the pipes, the Vezina Trophy was first given in 1926–27 by three former owners of the Montreal Canadiens: Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich. Named for former Habs netminder, Georges Vezina, who died in 1926 of tuberculosis, it was first awarded to Canadiens goalie George Hainsworth.

Another award for goalies is the William M. Jennings Trophy. Named for longtime governor of the New York Rangers, it was first introduced in 1981–82 to the netminder(s) with fewest goals allowed in at least 25 games. Rick Wamsley and Dennis Herron of the Montreal Canadiens were co-winners during its inaugural season.

In the history of the NHL only one player has died of his on-ice injuries. For Bill Masterton, who might have never played in the NHL if it wasn’t for the expansion, his game against the Oakland Seals as a Minnesota North Star would be unfortunately memorialized.

On Jan. 13, 1968 two Seals players checked Masterton and he fell backwards, landing on his head. He was carried off the ice unconscious. He would never awake from his coma and would die two days later.

In his memory the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was created by the NHL’s board of governors and awarded to a player in the NHL exhibiting perseverance, which in recent times has transitioned into overcoming adversity.

Jose Theodore of Washington Capitals was honoured last year after losing his two-month-old son, Chace, to respiratory complications derived from his premature birth. In the past, players like Phil Kessel, Jason Blake, Saku Koivu and Mario Lemieux have overcome cancer. Goaltender Jamie McLennan of St. Louis Blues had to learn to walk again after battling bacterial meningitis. The first honouree was Claude Provost of the Montreal Canadiens in 1968.

Top coaches are given the Jack Adams Award, named for the Detroit Red Wings’ bench boss who won Cups during the 1940s and 1950s. Fred Shero of Philadelphia Flyers was the first winner in 1973–74. The late Pat Burns has won the most with three and all with different Original Six teams: Montreal in 1988–89, Toronto in 1992–93 and Boston in 1997–98.

For defensive forwards, the NHL’s board of governors created the Frank J. Selke Trophy — in honour of the Maple Leafs and Canadiens builder — for the 1977–78 season.

Bob Gainey of Montreal won it the first four years. Doug Gilmour is the only Leaf to win.

Originally called the Lester B. Pearson Award for former Prime Minister, and also player and coach of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, another award was recently renamed the Ted Lindsay Award.

The change honours Lindsay’s perseverance in creating the NHL Players’ Association, and the winner is one adjudged most valuable by the NHLPA. It was first given in 1971–72 to Phil Esposito of Boston. Alexander Ovechkin of Washington was the first to win it under the Ted Lindsay name in 2009–10.

For noteworthy humanitarian work, NHLers earn the King Clancy Memorial, named for board of governors member and player Francis M. Clancy. No one has won the trophy more than once since its creation in 1987–88.

Calgary Flames forward Lanny MacDonald was the first winner. Curtis Joseph is the only Leaf to earn the trophy.

The final and youngest of the trophies is the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. First given out at the end of 1997–98 season, it honours the NHL’s most proficient scorer. Anaheim Might Duck Teemu Selanne was the first recipient. Ontario’s own Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay Lightning was the most recent.

With 18 trophies in all, that’s a lot of silver. That probably explains why the accolades are housed in a former Bank of Montreal building at 30 Yonge Street in Toronto.

Sponsored by The Canadian Experience and Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment, “Canada’s Hockey Experience: The Sport of a Country” is a unique, 20-week online series on the history of hockey.

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