Written by Dan Greene
In the spirit of the NHL Awards, I figured it would be interesting to see which Puck Agency clients have won awards in the past. While none of our clients won this year, many have won in previous years.
First, we have to mention one of the greatest defensemen of all-time and Hall of Famer Brian Leetch. While playing for the New York Rangers, Leetch won the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the NHL’s top defenseman twice (1992,1997) and the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie (1989). In 1992 he became the fifth defenseman to eclipse 100 points (102) in one season. I bet if he strapped the skates on today he would do the same. Just by looking at the picture you can tell that he hasn’t aged a bit. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s playoff MVP after winning the Stanley Cup in 1994, becoming the first American born player to win the award. Tim Thomas became the second American to win the award this past season and then beat out Puck Agency’s Pekka Rinne for the Vezina Trophy. Damn Tim Thomas!
Ken Dryden, who is also a hockey legend and Hall of Fame inductee, has also accumulated many prestigious awards. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1971 and then captured the Calder Memorial Trophy the following season. You might be thinking how a guy could win the Playoff MVP award one year and then Rookie of the Year the following year. Well, for most of the 1970-71 season Dryden played for Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL (33 games), and was then called up to play only six games for the Canadiens where he won all six games while only allowing nine goals. The former Cornell Big Red standout then started in goal for the Canadiens throughout the playoffs on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. The following year, in his offical rookie season, Dryden became the full time goaltender as he won 39 games and posted a 2.24 GAA. Then came his long stretch of winning the Vezina Trophy for the NHL’s top goaltender. Over a seven year span starting in 1973 and ending in 1979, Dryden won the trophy five times (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979). It’s pretty amazing how he accomplished all of this while wearing a flimsy goalie mask. You could not pay me to wear that mask while flying rubber is heaing towards your head.
Puck Agency clients from Sweden have also won NHL awards. Mats Naslund, who spent the bulk of his career with the Montreal Canadiens, won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1988 which is awarded to the player who shows “the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Previously, Naslund won the Viking Award twice for being the best Swedish player in the NHL (1985, 1986). The only other players to win the award in consecutive years are Borje Salming, Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, and Henrik Zetterberg. You can also count the Sedins as Henrik won in 2010 and Daniel won this year. Fellow Puck Agency client Patrik Sundstrom was also awarded the Viking Award twice (1984, 1989). So, if you’re keeping track at home, the top Swedish player in the NHL for most of the latter half of the 80’s (four out of six years) was represented by Puck Agency.
Also, Kris King, a former Winnipeg Jets captain, was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1996 which is “given to the the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” During his time in Winnipeg, King was very active in the local community. He took a lot of time out to help charitable organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House where he was an Honorary Chairman, the Manitoba Muscular Dystrophy Association where he was a Chairman, and the Jets’ Goals for Kids Foundation. King also assisted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to help guide underprivileged youth. Sounds like Mother Teresa on skates if you ask me.
Last, but certainly not least, is current NHL superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. In 2004 with the Atlanta Thrashers, Kovalchuk had a tremendous season, accumulating 41 goals, 46 assists, and 87 points in 81 games. For his excellent season, he was awarded the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy for being the NHL’s leading goal scorer and the Kharlamov Trophy, which is given to the most valuable Russian NHL player. With the recent relocation of the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg, it is safe to say that Kovy is the greatest player to ever wear a Thrashers uniform (even though the team only lasted a little over a decade). The high-flying Russian leads the Thrashers all-time in goals (328), assists (287), and obviously points (615). Also, unlike fellow Puck Agency clients Brian Leetch and Kris King, Kovy did not wear a bowtie when receiving his trophy.
You also can not forget Kovalchuk’s teammate in Atlanta Johan “Moose” Hedberg, who won the Player’s Player Award in his first two seasons with the Thrashers. He also won the award in New Jersey this past season. Mark Recchi, who was Johan’s teammate in Atlanta and just won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, once called Hedberg the most hard-working player he’s ever played with.
This past season Puck Agency client Pekka Rinne finished second in the Vezina voting and fourth in the Hart Trophy voting. Expect players like Rinne and other future stars represented by Puck Agency to bring home a post-season trophy very soon.