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NHL Awards Types

The Complete List of NHL Awards

The National Hockey League has 21 awards — can you name them? Unless you’re a truly rabid hockey fan or trivia whiz, chances are good you’ll need some help. Here is a list of all 21 NHL awards and a little bit of information about each of them.

NHL Player Awards

Hart Memorial Trophy
The Hart Memorial Trophy, unveiled in 1924, is awarded annually to the player deemed to be most valuable to his team. Who does the deeming? The league polls Professional Hockey Writers’ Association members in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season. Originally called the Hart Trophy, the award is named for Dr. David A. Hart, whose son, Cecil Hart, was a manager and coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Wayne Gretzky won the Hart eight years in a row, then one more time for good luck.

Ted Lindsay Award
The Ted Lindsay Award goes annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player, as determined by the members of the NHL Players Association. It’s an MVP award similar to the Hart Trophy, with the difference being the Ted Lindsay Award is decided by a peer vote. Originally called the Lester B. Pearson Award (after a former prime minister of Canada), the award was introduced in the 1970-71 season. The name was changed in 2010 in honor of Ted Lindsay, a standout forward who played for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, and also was later active in establishing the players’ union.

James Norris Memorial Trophy
The James Norris Memorial Trophy, usually referred to as the Norris Trophy, goes annually to the league’s best all-around defenseman. Named for James E. Norris, who owned the Detroit Red Wings starting in 1934, the trophy was first awarded after the 1953-1954 season. The winner is determined by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Bobby Orr won the Norris eight years in a row.

Vezina Trophy
Another annual award, the Vezina Trophy goes to the NHL’s top goalie, as determined by the general managers of all NHL teams. Introduced after the 1926-27 season, the trophy is named for Georges Vezina, goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens from 1910 to 1925 who died of tuberculosis in 1926. The criteria for this award have changed over the years. Originally, it was given to the goaltender on the team that allowed the fewest number of regular-season goals, but that award is now called …

William M. Jennings Trophy
The goaltender(s) playing for the team that allows the fewest number of regular-season goals (minimum 25 games) nets the William M. Jennings Trophy. This award is relatively new to the NHL, first awarded at the end of the 1981-82 season. William M. Jennings, who passed away in 1981, was a former president of the New York Rangers. Players with the most Jennings trophies: Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy, with five each.

Calder Memorial Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy goes annually to the NHL’s top first-year player, as voted by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association. The trophy is named after Frank Calder, the first president of the NHL. Eligibility for the Calder Trophy is somewhat complicated: As the NHL states, “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. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible.”

Frank J. Selke Trophy
Frank J. Selke was a highly successful general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Selke Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL’s top defensive forward, as determined by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. First awarded after the 1977-78 season, the award has been won four times by Bob Gainey (Montreal Canadiens) and Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins).

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
No fighting, please: The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is given annually to the NHL player demonstrating the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, along with a high level of skill. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association select the winner at the conclusion of the regular season. Lady Byng (nee Marie Evelyn Moreton), who married Viscount Byng of Vimy in 1902, was an avid hockey fan; she donated the trophy to the NHL in 1925 and selected the first winner, Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Bill Masterton, who played for the Minnesota North Stars in 1967-68, is the only NHL player whose death was directly caused by a game injury (internal brain injury after a hit). The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, first awarded after the 1967-68 season, is given to the NHL player demonstrating the greatest qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game. The winner is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Many recipients of this award have overcome major injuries or illnesses during their careers.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy
Selected by a panel comprised of representatives of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and NHL Broadcasters’ Association, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy is given annually to the NHL player who has demonstrated the best on- and off-ice leadership, and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Introduced in 1987-88, the award is named for Francis Michael “King” Clancy, who served the league as a player, coach, executive and referee.

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award
Established in 2007, the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award goes annually to the player best exemplifying leadership qualities on and off the ice. The selection of three final nominees and the winner are made by none other than Mark Messier, one of the league’s finest leaders of all time.

Maurice Richard Trophy
The NHL’s top goal scorer for the season receives the Maurice Richard Trophy, an award introduced by the league in 1998-99. It is aptly named for Joseph Henri Maurice “Rocket” Richard, the Montreal Canadiens legend who was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season. Alexander Ovechkin has won it seven times — far and away the top recipient.

Art Ross Trophy
The Art Ross Trophy is an annual award presented to the NHL player who leads the league in overall points for the regular season. First awarded after the 1947-48 season, the Art Ross Trophy has gone to Wayne Gretzky 10 times. Art Ross, who died in 1964, was a player, manager and innovator in the NHL — and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1949.

Conn Smythe Trophy
The Conn Smythe Trophy, selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, is awarded annually to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The award was introduced in 1965 and is named for Constantine Falkland Cary Smythe, who was owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961. Interesting side note: A player’s team need not win the Stanley Cup, nor even reach the final series, to receive this award.

NHL Team Awards

Presidents’ Trophy
The Presidents’ Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL team with the best regular-season record. Established in the 1985-86 season, the honor comes with a $350,000 cash prize that is divvied among the team and players. Prior to 1985-86, the Prince of Wales Trophy was awarded for this achievement from 1937 to 1967, and then the award was suspended until 1985-86 due to league expansion and reorganization.

Prince of Wales Trophy
The Prince of Wales Trophy since 1994 has been awarded annually to the Eastern Conference playoff champions. Prior to 1994, the trophy had been given for other team achievements, and dates back to 1925.

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
Since 1994, the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl has been awarded annually to the Western Conference playoff champions. Introduced in 1967-68, the award was earlier given for a variety of team accomplishments. Clarence S. Campbell was the third president of the NHL (served from 1946 to 1977).

Stanley Cup
The first Stanley Cup awarded by the NHL was in 1926, to the Ottawa Senators. The Cup, however, dates back further — it was first awarded to Montreal AAA in 1893. The Stanley Cup, of course, goes to the team that wins the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious and well-known trophies in the sporting world. Named for Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, the Stanley Cup has been won an incredible 23 times by the Montreal Canadiens.

Awards for NHL Coaches, Executives and Hockey Community

Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams Award goes annually to the NHL coach who contributed the most to the success of his team, as selected by a poll of the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association. First given in 1973-74, the award is named for Jack Adams, the outstanding head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. As Red Wings head coach, he won three Stanley Cups — and then for good measure, three more as the team’s general manager.

NHL General Manager of the Year Award
This honor may not win the NHL’s award for best-named award, but no one can dispute the importance of an NHL general manager. The NHL General Manager of the Year is voted on by the league’s general managers, along with a panel of NHL executives and media personnel. The award was introduced in 2010.

Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
The Willie O’Ree Award was established in 2018 and is determined by popular vote after a committee selects six finalists. Nominees for the award are not affiliated with the NHL. As the NHL states, “The Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award recognizes an individual who — through the game of hockey — has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society.” Willie O’Ree, who heads the selection committee, was the first black player to compete in the NHL (in 1958), and has continued to be an influential, all-around ambassador of hockey since.