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NHL Awards and Finalists

Shortly after each season, the NHL hands out the hardware to its elite performers -- all trophies steeped in a rich tradition. 

Below are the stories behind each award, with the 2008-09 winners listed beside it. 

Hart Memorial Trophy


The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season.

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.

Wayne Gretzky won the award a record nine times during his career, eight consecutively. Gretzky and his Edmonton Oilers teammate Mark Messier are the only players to win the Hart Trophy with more than one team. In 1990, Mark Messier took the Hart over Ray Bourque by a margin of two votes, the difference being a single first-place vote.

Players from the Montreal Canadiens have won the award sixteen times; players from Boston Bruins are second with twelve winners, and the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers have seen players win the award nine times. Joe Thornton became the first Hart Trophy winner to switch clubs during his winning campaign in 2005–06 NHL season, having played for both the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks that year.

The voting is conducted at the end of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs.

The closest the voting for the Hart Trophy has ever come was in the 2001–02 season, when Jose Theodore and Jarome Iginla tied in the total voting. The tiebreaker for choosing the Hart Trophy winner in such a case is number of first-place votes: Theodore, who had 86 first-place votes to Iginla's 82, claimed it.






Vezina Trophy


The Vezina Trophy is an annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.

Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau, and Joe Cattarinich, former owners of the Montreal Canadiens, presented the trophy to the National Hockey League in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vezina, outstanding goalkeeper of the Canadiens, who collapsed during an NHL game Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later.

Until the 1981-82 season, the goalkeeper(s) of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season were awarded the Vezina Trophy.

Billy Smith of the New York Islanders was the first winner of the Vezina under the current system.

There have been numerous instances of players receiving the trophy many times in different years, and players tying for the trophy. Jacques Plante holds the record for winning the most Vezinas with seven, trailed by Bill Durnan and Dominik Hasek both of who have won six. Hasek has won the most under the current system of honouring the best individual goalie. Players for the Montreal Canadiens have won the Vezina 28 times. Under the original definition, there would often be multiple winners from the same team during one season. In the 1973–74 NHL season, Tony Esposito of the Chicago Black Hawks and Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers finished tied for the fewest goals against, the only time that there would be a tie between two players from different teams.

The voting is conducted at the end of the regular season, and each individual voter ranks their top three candidates on a 5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs.






James Norris Memorial Trophy


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. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.

The James Norris Memorial Trophy was presented in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris in memory of the former owner-president of the Detroit Red Wings.

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 trophy was first awarded at the conclusion of the 1953–54 NHL season.

Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins won the award for a record eight consecutive seasons (1968–75). Doug Harvey won the award seven times, while Nicklas Lidstrom has won it six times in his career and Ray Bourque won it five times during his career; between them, those four players have won half the Norris Trophies awarded to date. The Boston Bruins have won the most Norris Trophies with 13. The Montreal Canadiens are second with 11.

The voting is conducted at the end of the regular season, and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10–7–5–3–1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL awards ceremony after the conclusion of the playoffs.






Calder Memorial Trophy


The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs.

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.

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. The player must not be older than 26 years before September 15 of the season in which he is eligible.

In 1990, Sergei Makarov of the Calgary Flames became the oldest player, at age 31, to win the Calder. After that season, the rules for awarding the Calder were amended so that players could only be eligible if they were 26 years old or younger by September 15 of their rookie season.

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league. The latter fact was perhaps most prominent when in 1979–80, first-year phenom Wayne Gretzky was not eligible to win the Calder Trophy despite scoring 137 points (the previous rookie record at the time being 95), because he had played a full season the previous year in the World Hockey Association. The trophy has been won the most times by rookies from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have won it on nine occasions.






Lady Byng Memorial Trophy


The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy 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. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Lady Byng, wife of Canada's Governor-General at the time, presented the Lady Byng trophy in 1925. She decided the trophy's first winner would be Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators. Late in the season, Lady Byng invited Nighbor to Rideau Hall, showed him the trophy, and asked him if the NHL would accept it as an award for its most gentlemanly player. When Nighbor said he thought it would, Lady Byng, much to Nighbor's surprise, awarded him the trophy.

After Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers won the award seven times in eight seasons, he was given the trophy to keep and Lady Byng donated another trophy in 1936.

After Lady Byng's death in 1949, the National Hockey League presented a new trophy, changing the name to Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

Besides Boucher, a number of players have won the award multiple times, including Wayne Gretzky who won it five times, Red Kelly with four wins, and Bobby Bauer, Alex Delvecchio, Mike Bossy, Ron Francis and Pavel Datsyuk with three each. Because of Boucher's seven wins, the New York Rangers have won the award the most out of any club, fifteen times, followed by Detroit with thirteen, Toronto with nine, Chicago and Boston tied with eight, and Los Angeles with five.

No goaltender has ever won the award; Bill Quackenbush and Red Kelly are the only defensemen to do so, and no defenseman has won in over fifty years.






Frank J. Selke Trophy


The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.

The trophy was first awarded at the end of the 1977–78 NHL season. 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, the other awards being the Art Ross Trophy, James Norris Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, and Jack Adams Award.

The first recipient was Bob Gainey of the Canadiens, who won the trophy the first four years it was given, and to date he has won it more times than any other player. Players from the Montreal Canadiens have won the trophy the most times, a total of 7 times, though these 7 trophies were amassed by only two players. Bob Gainey has won the most, winning it four times while Guy Carbonneau and Jere Lehtinen have each won it three times. During the late 90's, Lehtinen and Carbonneau both played on the Dallas Stars, under then GM, Bob Gainey. The team with the most different winners is the Detroit Red Wings, as Sergei Fedorov (twice), Steve Yzerman, Kris Draper, and Pavel Datsyuk have combined for five Selke award trophies, all wins coming since 1994.






Jack Adams Award


The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success. The winner is selected in a poll among members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association at the end of the regular season.

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.

Jacques Demers is the only coach who has won the award in consecutive seasons. Four coaches in history have won the award with 2 different teams. Jacques Lemaire, Pat Quinn, and Scotty Bowman have won the award twice, while Pat Burns is the only coach to win the award three times.

The franchises with the most Jack Adams Award winners are the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, with four winners, followed by the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes with three, although the Coyotes had two winners in Winnipeg before they moved to Arizona. Bill Barber and Bruce Boudreau are the only coaches to win the award after replacing the head coach who started the season. Barber took over for Craig Ramsay during the 2000–01 season, while Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon, a month into the 2007–08 season. The closest vote ever occurred in 2006, when the winner Lindy Ruff edged out Peter Laviolette by a single point.






Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy


The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy 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. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.

A grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.

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 was first awarded following the 1967–68 regular season. As of the end of the 2006–07 NHL season, players for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins have won the trophy 4 times each, while the Los Angeles Kings have won 3 times.






Lester B. Pearson Award


The Lester B. Pearson Award is presented annually to the "most outstanding player" in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the National Hockey League Players' Association.

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.

Wayne Gretzky won the award five times during his career. Members of the Pittsburgh Penguins have won the award the most number of times, with seven winners, followed by the Edmonton Oilers, with six winners.

The Pearson Award is considered to be the companion of the Hart Memorial Trophy—thirteen players have won both trophies for the same season: Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux , Mark Messier, Brett Hull, Sergei Fedorov, Eric Lindros, Dominik Hasek, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Sakic, Martin St. Louis, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Of those thirteen, only Lafleur, Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, St. Louis, Crosby, and Ovechkin have also won the Art Ross Trophy for the same season and completed a Hart-Pearson-Art Ross sweep.