The Vezina Trophy symbolizes greatness between the pipes, and the Canadiens share a special connection with the famed award. After legendary goaltender Georges Vezina collapsed during a game in late 1925 and died of tuberculosis several months later, then-Habs owners Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich presented a trophy to the League in his memory.
Initially, the Vezina Trophy was to be awarded to the goaltender whose team allowed the fewest number of goals in the regular season, a statistic that could be used to objectively identify outstanding performance by a puckstopper. But with a longer season schedule and the emergence of the backup goaltender - or of goaltending duos, depending on the situation - the Vezina criteria were eventually rewritten and, since 1981-82, the trophy is awarded to the most outstanding goaltender in the regular season, judged to be the best at his position as voted on by the League's general managers. (The William M. Jennings Trophy took the Vezina's place in recognizing the goaltender(s) whose team allows the fewest regular-season goals.)
Since 1925-26, Canadiens goaltenders have won the Vezina Trophy a whopping 29 times, including five wins since the new criteria were adopted. If Carey Price is to win on Wednesday, it would mark his second time capturing the honor. Here's a look at the Canadiens goaltenders who won it before him.
George Hainsworth arrived from Saskatoon in the wake of Vezina's death and took up the mantle, winning the first three Vezina Trophies from 1926-27 to 1928-29. Hainsworth was phenomenal, winning 28 (67 goals against), 26 (47GA) and 22 (43GA) games, respectively, out of 44. In the last year in which he won the Vezina, Hainsworth earned 22 shutouts, a club record that stands to this day. His 75 career regular-season shutouts are also still tops in team history.
Bill Durnan won six Vezina Trophies in a span of seven seasons between 1943-44 and 1949-50. In his first season, Durnan set an NHL record among rookie netminders by going undefeated in 14 straight games. The Toronto, ON native - who was team captain for four months in early 1948 - finished his NHL career with 34 shutouts and 208 wins in 383 regular season contests, blanking the opposition 10 times in 1948-49, his second-last campaign.
Jacques Plante holds the record for most Vezina Trophy wins with seven, six of which were earned with the Canadiens in a seven-year span from 1955-56 to 1961-62. The native of Shawinigan Falls, QC appeared in parts of 11 seasons with the Habs, presenting a 2.23 goals-against average and earning 58 shutouts with the team. The Hall-of-Famer also won the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 1961-62, becoming the first-ever goalie to win both the Hart and the Vezina in the same season. In January 1958, Plante set the team record for most wins in a month with 11. Plante's goals-against average of 1.86 in 1955-56 is second in team history among goalies who played at least 35 games in one season. He won his seventh and final Vezina as a member of the St. Louis Blues, sharing the honor with Glenn Hall.
Charlie Hodge won 33 games in 1963-64, posting a goals-against average of 2.26 along with eight shutouts en route to his first Vezina win. The native of Lachine would also share the win with Lorne "Gump" Worsley in 1965-66. Worsley also won the trophy again two years later, this time with Rogatien Vachon.
Ken Dryden / Michel Larocque
Ken Dryden captured his first Vezina Trophy in his second full season in the NHL in 1972-73, earning 33 wins and a goals-against average of 2.26 and six shutouts. His second win followed in 1975-76, and he would then go on to share the award three more times with backup Michel Larocque, in the dynastic years from 1975-76 to 1978-79. Larocque would win a fourth Vezina in 1980-81, sharing it with Denis Herron and Richard Sevigny, in the final year before the award criteria changed.
Patrick Roy would be the next Canadiens goaltender to win the trophy following the Larocque-Herron-Sevigny trio, capturing it in consecutive seasons from 1988-89 to 1989-90. Roy skipped a year and was awarded the Vezina again in 1991-92 on the heels of a 36-win season. With the trophy now being handed out on a voting system, Roy was also nominated two other years - 1990-91 (second place) and 1993-94 (third place).
Jose Theodore capped a brilliant 2001-02 campaign with a Vezina trophy win. He compiled a sterling .931 save percentage to go along with a 30-24-10 record, seven shutouts and 2.11 goals-against average, propelling the Canadiens back to the playoffs after a three-year absence.
Carey Price posted excellent numbers in his first Vezina Trophy-winning campaign in 2014-15. The native of Anahim Lake, BC broke a nearly 50-year-old team record with his 44-win season, leapfrogging Jacques Plante's previous high of 42. Price posted a shining 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage to go along with nine shutouts.
This year's nominees for the Vezina Trophy are the Canadiens' Carey Price, the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky and the Capitals' Braden Holtby. The winner will be announced on Wednesday night in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards.