At the end of every NHL season, the league’s most successful goaltender earns a unique prize: the Vezina Trophy. It’s an honor with a fascinating history.
Georges Vezina was a goalie for the Montreal Canadiens between 1910 and 1925. A widely admired athlete, Vezina was diagnosed with tuberculosis in late 1925, and he died in 1926 at age 39. In 1927, the owners of the Canadiens established the Vezina Trophy as a tribute to his legacy.
The criteria for winning the Vezina Trophy have changed over the years. From its inception until 1945, it went to the goalie with the lowest GAA, or goals against average. (To learn more about this statistic and other goalie-related stats, have a look at our handy guide.)
Then, until 1981, the Vezina winner would always come from the NHL team with the least goals scored against it during regular season play.
Since 1981, however, all of the NHL general managers have voted for the Vezina honorees. First, each of them selects and ranks three goalies. Based on those votes, three finalists are chosen. The general managers then vote again, choosing one goalie from that shortlist.
During the 1960s and ’70s, it was common for two or three players to win Vezinas for the same season. There haven’t been any ties since the 1981 rule changes, though.
George Hainsworth earned the first three Vezinas; at that time, he played for the Montreal Canadiens. The most recent winner is Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Jacques Plante won seven Vezina Trophies, more than any other NHL player. Plante, who battled chronic asthma, changed the way hockey goalies play the game. Among his innovations, he was the first goaltender to go behind the goal to halt the puck. In second place are Dominik Hasek and Bill Durnan; they have six Vezinas apiece.
Quite a few goalies, including Bobrovsky, are in the running for the 2018 Vezina. Keep an eye on two standouts. Carey Price is a sensational player for the Canadiens. And, over the past couple seasons, Matt Murray has been blocking shots for the Pittsburgh Penguins with incredible speed and accuracy.
In short, the Vezina Trophy will be hotly contested again this year. Goalie-loving NHL fans wouldn’t want it any other way.
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