Each year since 1999, the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy has gone to the NHL’s number one goal scorer (as opposed to point scorer) during the regular season. It’s the most recent addition to the NHL’s roster of awards for individuals. And, of course, it’s highly coveted.
The Montreal Canadiens, who provided the league with this trophy, named it after Maurice “Rocket” Richard. Richard, a Montreal native, who played for the Canadiens for 18 seasons. During five of those seasons, he scored more goals than any other NHL player. Not to mention, Richard was the first NHL star to score 50 goals in a single season as well as the first to notch 500 career goals.
In 1999, Teemu Selanne earned the inaugural Rocket Richard Trophy; he played for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the team now called the Anaheim Ducks. The most recent player to accept this honor was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby.
It’s possible for more than one person to win this award at the end of a season. Indeed, two players won it in 2010, and three tied in 2003.
Three players have been two-time Rocket Richard Trophy honorees: Pavel Bure, Steven Stamkos and Jarome Iginla. However, in the relatively short history of this trophy, one player truly stands out. He’s Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals’ captain.
Since his first NHL season began in 2005 — unsurprisingly, the league named him Rookie of the Year — Ovechkin has won this trophy six times.
Who will take the Rocket Richard Trophy when the current NHL season ends? More than a dozen players have a good shot, no pun intended. At this point, Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets, who’s only 19 years old, and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning may have the best chances.
One thing’s for sure: The person who wins the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2018 will add his name to a list of today’s greats and tomorrow’s legends.
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