It seems that every year, discussion pops up among fans and the media about changing the names of NHL awards to honor players who have excelled in recent times. "The names of Hart, Byng, Vezina, and Adams are from so long ago, how could today's fan relate?" they say. Well, on last night's "Hot Stove" on Hockey Night in Canada, analyst and former Director of Affairs for the NHLPA Glen Healy, said that the NHL may look at changing the names of its awards handed out every June. Healy's list included proposed name changes for six trophies:
Hart Trophy: Gordie Howe
Art Ross Trophy: Wayne Gretzky
Calder Trophy: Mario Lemieux
Norris Trophy: Bobby Orr
Lady Byng Trophy: Jean Beliveau
Jack Adams Award: Scotty Bowman
(Oddly enough this was the exact list that HNIC's Elliotte Friedman came up over a year ago on his CBC blog.)
There was no mention of the Stanley Cup, which even the thought of changing its name would cause global riots.
Like Craig Custance of the Sporting News, as one who is fond of hockey history, changing the names of the trophies is just plain wrong. The names hold history and bring fans back to the roots of the game and those that helped build the NHL into what it is today. There doesn't need to be change in the NHL every few years. Keeping history intact is a vital part of moving forward for the NHL. Hockey Night host Ron McLean and fellow analysts Pierre LeBrun and Mike Milbury were dead-set against the idea with Milbury making his first good point in ages:
"This is about the history of the game," HNIC analyst Mike Milbury said. "I know the players are a big part of it, but there are some other people in the business that had something to do with it. The names are good, they run with history. Leave it alone."
If you're wondering what that feeling is, it's likely you agreeing with Milbury for once.
LeBrun joined the chorus of others in the past that who have disagreed with changing the trophy names and would rather see players like Gretzky, Orr and Lemieux honored by renaming the divisions. If the NHL just renames the six divisions instead of the trophies, there's no need to worry about designing awards to reflect their new names or having to find someone to do the engraving on the current set of NHL hardware. That money can be saved and used to upgrade the VERSUS studios or buy Don Cherry another retina-destroying suit.
And so that brings us to this ...
Pass or Fail: The NHL should change the names of its awards.
- Mike Milbury
- Wayne Gretzky
- Mario Lemieux