There are few sports that care about the history and tradition of their trophies quite like hockey, particularly the NHL. Each year, the team and individual awards are handed out in front of a national audience, with many of them subject to public debate. Some of the trophies handed out date back to the early part of the 20th century, but which ones are the oldest? Here are the five longest-running individual NHL awards.
5. Art Ross Trophy
The first trophy on the list is the Art Ross Trophy, which was first handed out after the 1947-48 NHL season. While the other trophies on the list are completely subjective and at the whim of hockey writers, general managers, and executives, the Art Ross Trophy is given to the player who scores the most points (goals and assists combined) in a season.
Elmer Lach of the Montreal Canadiens won the first Art Ross Trophy, but there’s one name that became synonymous with the trophy: Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One” took home the Art Ross a whopping 10 times during his career, surpassing the six times that Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe won. Other notable multiple-time winners include Jaromir Jagr, Connor McDavid, and Phil Esposito.
4. Calder Memorial Trophy
Frank Calder was the NHL’s first-ever president, and the award given out to the league’s best rookie is named after him. The Calder Memorial Trophy was first handed out following the 1936-37 NHL season and the age range between the oldest and youngest to win the award is quite staggering, especially in the trophy’s early years.
At 25 years old, Carl Voss of the Detroit Red Wings won the first Calder Trophy, while the 1940s saw a trio of 19-year-olds and a 27-year-old win. Four 18-year-olds have won the Calder Trophy, with Bobby Orr, Dale Hawerchuk, Tom Barrasso, and Nathan MacKinnon setting the bar.
3. Vezina Trophy
Major League Baseball has the Cy Young Award that’s given out to the best pitcher each year, a position that rarely gets an MVP Award. Hockey has a similar setup where goaltenders get their own award, with the Vezina Trophy handed to the league’s top goalie of the season. Named after longtime Canadiens goalie Georges Vezina, the award dates back to the 1926-27 NHL season.
George Hainsworth of the Canadiens won the Vezina Trophy the first three times it was given out. Bill Durnan became the first man to win the Vezina six times, but his record wouldn’t last long. In 1969, Jacques Plante won his seventh award while playing with the St. Louis Blues. Dominik Hasek is the only other goalie to win the award six times.
2. Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
The NHL is the only one of the big four sports leagues in North America where one of the major awards is given out to the person who showed the most sportsmanship while also being exceptional as a player. The second oldest individual trophy, the Lady Byng is given to one gentleman each year and is named after the wife of former Canadian Governor General Viscount Byng.
Frank Nighbor won the first two Lady Byng Trophies that were handed out, and many of the players that have won the title have done so multiple times. Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers won the award seven times while Wayne Gretzky, Red Kelly, and Pavel Datsyuk won the title four times.
1. Hart Memorial Trophy
While other professional sports leagues in North America simply call it the “most valuable player” award, the NHL recognizes the MVP via the Hart Memorial Trophy. Cecil Hart, who coached the Montreal Canadiens from 1926 until 1939, is the namesake for the trophy after his father gave it to the league.
The Hart Trophy was awarded for the first time in 1924, given to Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators. Many eventual Hall of Fame players have won the Hart Trophy, including Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux. Only two players who won the trophy prior to 2000 didn’t go on to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame (Al Rollins and Tommy Anderson).