Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Origins of NHL Trophies, Part V!

And to think we said we'd never make a sequel... Anyway, since we last blogged on this topic, there's been a change in the awards, so there's a new entry in the list! That, and we forgot one.

First, to the change. Sadly, this season we bid "adieu" to the Lester B. Pearson Award, about which we blogged here, and which has been retired and replaced. You may recall that this was the award handed out, on behalf of the NHL Players' Association, to the player voted "most outstanding" by his peers. Now, we are generally against the replacing of the NHL awards, and we're against this one. Nonetheless, we can have no objections to the man chosen to be honoured by the replacement award, especially given that it's handed out by the NHLPA.

The Ted Lindsay Award: Ted Lindsay (pictured above bothering Jacques Plante) was a hell of a hockey player. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he made up one third of the "Production Line" in Detroit, alongside Gordie Howe and Sid Abel. How good was the line? Well, in the 49-50 season, Howe finished third in the NHL in scoring... behind Lindsay and Abel.

Despite his on-ice prowess, however, Lindsay is better-known for something he did away from the rink. In the mid-50s, he and Doug Harvey of the Canadiens launched an attempt to form first an association, and then a union, for NHL players. Lindsay's career suffered for it; the Norris family, who owned the Red Wings, ended up trading him to the then-moribund Chicago Black Hawks. However, the players duly got their union, and the men who today pull down millions to play the game, and actually have some say in where they play it, can thank Ted Lindsay for that.

The Ted Lindsay Award will be given, as the Pearson Award was, to the league's most outstanding player, as voted upon by the membership of Ted Lindsay's NHLPA.

The Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award: This is the one we forgot. The Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award is awarded by MBNA America (a bank, in case you didn't know) to the goalie who records the best save percentage over the course of the season.

Roger Crozier was a capable goalie for the Red Wings for most of the 1960s, when he twice led the league in shutouts. In 1970, he moved to the expansion Buffalo Sabres, and became their first ever starting goalie. Crozier played the rest of his career in Buffalo, apart from a very short (3 game) stint with the Capitals, and retired in 1977. After his retirement, he went to work for MBNA America, and the award that bears his name was donated by his employers after Crozier's death in 1996.

No Oiler has ever won the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award.

I should point out here that there are a couple of other NHL awards; however, they're not named for figures from hockey's distant past, and I don't see much point in discussing them at any length. They are the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award (Current Holder: Jean Beliveau) and the ScotiaBank Fan Fave Award (Current Holder: Roberto Luongo).

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