The NHL is considering a move that would change the name of some individual awards to honour some of the game's all-time greats, CBC Hockey Night in Canada analyst Glenn Healy says.
"It started as a whisper," Healy said during the Hotstove segment on Saturday night's telecast, "but I think it's grown into something that they are [seriously] going to take a look at."
Here is the list of the proposed changes, with the current trophy names and new suggestions, according to Healy :
- Hart (most valuable player) — Gordie Howe.
- Art Ross (most points) — Wayne Gretzky.
- Calder (top rookie) — Mario Lemieux.
- James Norris (top defenceman) — Bobby Orr.
- Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player) — Jean Beliveau.
- Jack Adams (coach of the year) — Scotty Bowman.
Naming trophies after former players is nothing new. In the 1998-99 season, the NHL introduced the Maurice (Rocket) Richard trophy — named after one of the greatest scorers in Montreal Canadiens' history — for the player who scores the most goals.
The award for top goaltender is named after another former Hab, Georges Vezina.
Time to pay tribute
It's about time the NHL made further changes to pay tribute to those who made history on the ice, rather than in the boardrooms, Healy said.
"The award for best defenceman is currently named after a [former Detroit Red Wings] owner. Give me a break," he said.
Most people don't even know who Lady Byng (the wife of Gov. Gen. Viscount Byng of Vimy) was, he added.
But the proposed changes are likely to face plenty of opposition.
"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."
"I hate it, too," HNIC host Ron MacLean added.
After the 1992-93 season, the NHL changed the name of its divisions, replacing the historically based names of Norris, Patrick, Adams and Smythe, with geographical names. There was some criticism at the time, since many fans felt that the division names were rooted in Canadian history.
In case you're wondering, there are no indications the NHL plans to tinker with the name of the Stanley Cup.
Savard extension questioned
In another development, a complicated financial matter is likely to dominate the NHL's front office over the coming days and, perhaps, weeks.
The league is expected to launch an investigation and a formal challenge to the contract extension offered to Marc Savard by the Boston Bruins, HNIC contributor Pierre LeBrun said.
The seven-year, $28.5-million US deal looks fishy to the NHL because it goes all the way to 2017, when Savard will be pushing 40, and he'll likely be retired.
Savard will be making $7 million, $7 million, $6.5 million, and $5 million for the first four years. Then there's a huge drop off. The final two years of the contract call for Savard to make a paltry $525,000 a season.
The length of the contract brings down the average salary per year, as it pertains to the salary cap.
The NHL feels that the way the contract is structured violates the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement, LeBrun said.