When it comes to NHL awards and the Edmonton Oilers, very little valuable hardware has made its way this far north since the turn of the century. That could change this summer, and it occurs to me that many younger readers may not know their Oilers history in this regard. Here we go.
THE ART ROSS TROPHY
- Wayne Gretzky won the scoring championship 7 (!!) times as an Oilers player. He won them from age 20 to 26, the first one coming in 1981 just a few short months after he turned 20. Connor McDavid would duplicate that feat if he won the scoring championship this year (he is currently leading by five as of this writing).
THE HART TROPHY
- The most cherished of all trophies, the league’s most valuable player has been awarded to an Oiler player nine times. Wayne Gretzky won the award from 1980 through 1987, and Mark Messier won it in 1990. There is some disagreement about the last major award won by an Oilers player, it is either Messier’s Hart or Billy Ranford’s Smythe. Connor McDavid has earned this award in my opinion, we will see if he wins it.
CONN SMYTHE TROPHY
- If your team wins five Stanley’s, there should be several Conn Smythe awards. The trophy is given annually to the most valuable player in the postseason. Mark Messier won in 1984, Wayne Gretzky in 1985 and 1987, and Bill Ranford took home the hardware in 1990. The 1987 award was given to Ron Hextall, who was brilliant in a losing effort for the Philadelphia Flyers. I have always felt Jari Kurri should have won at least one Smythe.
JACK ADAMS AWARD
- Glen Sather won the award only once, 1986. That’s a laugh, but it happened just this way. Sather should have won this (coaching) award enough for it to be called the Glen Sather award, that or the GM award. I will tell you that John Muckler in 1990 and Craig MacTavish in 2006 should have received consideration, but this is an award for regular season performance. Todd McLellan will likely receive strong consideration based on improvement this year.
TED LINDSAY AWARD
- This award is given to the league’s outstanding player, as voted by the players. It used to be the Lester Pearson award, but they changed the name in 2010. It is a tougher award traditionally for great players to win. Wayne Gretzky won it five times, the first one age 21. Mark Messier also won the award as an Oiler. Connor McDavid should be considered one of the favorites for this award.
LADY BYNG TROPHY
- This is awarded to the league’s most gentlemanly player, and is sometimes misunderstood by newer fans. The award is given to the league’s most excellent player who can stay out of the penalty box more than other players of his ilk. Gretzky won it in 1980, Jari Kurri in 1985. I once got into a fight over this award, as a school chum suggested Johnny Bucyk of the Boston Bruins wasn’t tough (he won the award in 1971). So we fought over the Byng. Not my finest moment, but I was a kid.
JAMES NORRIS TROPHY
- The league’s best defenseman award was awarded to Edmonton’s Paul Coffey in 1985 and 1986. The Oilers have had some very good defenders over the years, but this award requires substantial offense and enough defensive acumen to post good defensive totals. Chris Pronger was a candidate in his Edmonton season.
- Grant Fuhr won this award in 1988, the only Oilers goalie with his name on the trophy. How any goalie won this award in front of that run and gun crew is beyond me, but he did it. I think Cam Talbot will receive votes this year, he has been splendid in goal.
KING CLANCY AWARD
- Three Oilers have received this award: Kevin Lowe in 1990, Ethan Moreau in 2009 and Andrew Ference in 2014. It is given to the player who displays Leadership and Humanitarian Contribution.
Will the Oilers grab hardware this summer at the NHL awards? There is still some script to be written, so we wait.