On Thursday night, the NHL’s best players will be gathering in Las Vegas to hand out this year’s post season awards. The league’s MVP, best goalie, best defenseman, best coach, best defensive forward and most “gentlemanly” player will all be recognized on stage in Sin City. In my first in installment of Blackhawks History 101, I will be taking a looking back at the Blackhawks players who forever have their names attached to these historic trophies.
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. Two Blackhawks have won this award since its inception in 1968. Pit Martin won the award after the 1969-70 season, where his 63 points helped the Hawks make a worst to first move from the previous season. Defenseman Bryan Berard won the award following the 2003-04 season, where Berard made a comeback from an injury that left him legally blind in one eye. Former Blackhawk Steve Sullivan won the award while playing in Nashville.
The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success. This award was first given out following the 1973-74 season and only one Blackhawks head coach has been honored with it. Orval Tessier won the award for the 1982-83 season where he took the Blackhawks to the Campbell Conference Finals. He is best known for saying his team needed heart transplants after falling behind 2-0 to the Edmonton Oilers in the Conference Finals. Joel Quinneville won the Adams while coaching in St. Louis. Scotty Bowman won the award twice in his long coaching career. Other former Hawks coaches to win the Adams while in other cities include Bob Pulford, Mike Keenan, and Brian Sutter.
The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. Current radio color man, Troy Murray, was the first Blackhawk to win this award following the 1985-86 season. Dirk Graham was the last Blackhawks forward to win the Selke for his defensive play in the 1990-91 season. This is an award I expect Johnathan Toews to win at least once before his career is over. Former Hawks Doug Gilmour and John Madden have won the Selke while playing in Toronto and New Jersey respectively.
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. This is one of the oldest awards in the history of the NHL. It has been awarded yearly since 1925. Apparently the NHL thinks the Blackhawks are full of douchebags since no Hawk has won this award since 1968. Elwyn “Doc” Romnes was the first Hawk to win the Lady Bing in 1936. The Blackhawks had a run of 3 straight winners between 1943 and 1945 when Max Bentley, Clint Smith and Bill Mosienko all won the Bing. Bobby Hull received the honor for the 1964-65 season. Stan Mikita was the last Blackhawk to win the award doing it in 1967 and 1968. Former Hawk Brian Campbell is a finalist for this year’s award.
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. This is another historic award that has had some of the all time greats win it since 1933. Goalie Mike Karakas was the first Blackhawk to win the award in 1936 where he had 21 wins and a 1.85 GAA. Center Cully Dahlstrom won the award for having 19 points in 48 games during the 1937-38 season. Right winger Ed Litzenberger won the Clader in 1955 for putting up 40 points in 44 games his rookie season. 1959-60 saw Bill Hay make and immediate impact winning the Calder with his 55 points in 70 games. Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito had one of the greatest rookie seasons for a goalie back in 1969-70 where he posted 15 shutouts, which is still a NHL record for a rookie. My all time favorite Hawk, Steve Larmer scored 43 goals and added 47 assists during his Calder winning season of 1982-83. Ed Belfour was the third goalie in Hawks history to win the Calder after the 1990-91 season with his 43 wins, 2.47 GAA and .910 save %. Patrick Kane beat out teammate Jonathan Toews for the 2008 Calder after he put up 72 points in his rookie season. Other former Blackhawks who have won the Calder before coming to Chicago include Hall of Famers Glenn Hall and Bobby Orr along with Gary Suter, Bryan Berard and Sergei Samsonov.
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. Hall of Famer, Pierre Pilote won 3 straight Norris Trophies between 1963 and 1965. Current San Jose GM, Doug Wilson took home the honor as the league’s best defenseman for his play in the 1981-82 season. Chris Chelios won two of his three Norris Trophies, while wearing the Indian Head sweater, in 1993 and 1996. He won his first in 1989 while playing in Montreal. We all remember Duncan Keith’s dream season of 2009-10 where he won Olympic Gold, the Norris and the Stanley Cup all in the same year. Other former Blackhawks to win the Norris include Bobby Orr’s seven straight with Boston and Paul Coffey who won two with Edmonton and one in Detroit.
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. This is another iconic award that his been given to the greats between the pipes since 1927. Charlie Gardiner was the first Blackhawk to win the Vezina, doing it in 1932 and again in 1934. Lorne Chabot made it back to back seasons for Chicago having the best goaltender by winning the award in 1935. Up until 1964 the Vezina was awarded to the starting goalie of the team who gave up the fewest goals. Glen Hall won the award with the Blackhawks in 1963 and 1967 and again in 1968 while playing for the St. Louis Blues. In 1965, the NHL Governors began allowing teammates to share the Vezina Trophy. From 1965-1981, the Vezina was awarded to any goaltenders who played 25 or more games for the team allowing the fewest goals against. In 1970 Tony Esposito won his first Vezina. He won it again in 1972 and 1974 but had to shared it with Gary Smith and Bernie Parent respectively. The NHL adopted the current format for the Vezina after the 1982 season. Only one Blackhawk has won the award during this team and it was Ed Belfour in 1991 and again in 1993. Due to Belfour’s success the Hawks traded away Dominik Hasek to the Buffalo Sabres where he went on to win 6 Vezina Trophies.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The first Blackhawk to be named the league MVP was Max Bentley, in 1946 who had 61 points in 47 games. Goalie Al Rollins took home the Hart after the 1953-54 season. Bobby Hull won the Hart in back to back seasons in 1965 and 1966. Had 168 points combined in those two seasons. Stan Mikita kept the Hart in Chicago for two more years when he won it in 1967 and 1968 where he put up 184 points in two years. Mikita was the last Blackhawk to win the MVP but this is another award I expect our current captain to take home before his career is all said and done. The only other players to ever play for the Hawks to win the Hart are Orr (3) and Hasek (2).