Friday, June 25, 2010
On this date in 1998, the NHL Board of Governors announced the creation of the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy to be awarded to the NHL's leading goal scorer every season.
While Richard never won the Art Ross Trophy as the leading point scorer during his career, he did lead the league in goal scoring on five occasions, was the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals and captured the attention of the hockey world when he became the first player to ever score 50 goals in 50 games.
Maurice Richard with the trophy named in his honor
The trophy, donated by his former club the Montreal Canadiens, was first awarded to Teemu Selanne of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, whose 47 goals were three more than his closest pursuers. 1998-99 would actually be the third time Selanne would lead the league in goal scoring, having scored an amazing 76 goals as a rookie in 1992-93 and topped the league the year before with 52. Selanne had also previously won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year following his record-shattering rookie campaign and later added the Masterton Trophy in 2006.
Pavel Bure, then of the Florida Panthers, took home the award the following two seasons with first a dominating 58 goals, 14 more than anyone else, in 1999-2000 and retained the award with 59 goals the following season.
The Calgary Flames Jarome Iginla won his first Richard Trophy after scoring 52 goals to win the goal scoring title by 11. He was followed by the Colorado Avlanche's Milan Hejduk's 50 goals in 2002-03.
The league-wide emphasis on defensive play, the tolerance of obstruction combined with the increasing size of goaltender equipment reached it's peak in 2003-04 when the league leaders in goals were limited to 41 goals, the lowest winning total in the 12 year history of the award.
Three players shared the award that season, Iginla for the second time, Russian Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers as well as the 19 year old Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla accept their award in 2004
Following the NHL lockout of 2004-05, rule changes were instituted to eliminate obstruction and limit the size of goalie gear and the resulting increase in goal scoring was immediate, with Jonathan Cheechoo of the San Jose Sharks benefitting from not only the new rules package, but the mid-season acquisition of playmaker Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins, won the award with 56 goals, double his total of 28 in 2003-04.
Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning set a career high with 52 goals on his way to the goal scoring title in 2006-07 the year prior to the third Russian to win the award, the dynamic Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who won back to back titles, first with 65 goals in 2007-08, the highest total since the inception of the Richard Trophy, and backed that up with 56 in 2008-09.
Most recently, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby broke through with his first title with 51, which he shared with the impressive second year player Steve Stamkos of the Lightning, who equalled Crosby's goal total of 51.
Today's featured jersey is a 1998-99 Mighty Ducks of Anahiem Teemu Selanne fourth jersey, as worn during the season Selanne's 47 goals won the inaugural Richard Trophy.
Third, or "alternate", jerseys were first introduced to the NHL in 1995-96, with the Mighty Ducks first alternate jersey being the disastrous "Wild Wing" jersey, abandoned after only six wearings. The Mighty Ducks reentered the alternate jersey program in 1997-98 with a white jersey (first worn during one of their opening pair of games in Japan) and for good measure produced today's featured jersey, a jade version of the white jersey. It was the first time in NHL history that a team had a fourth different jersey to pick from.
This jade fourth jersey was worn for just two seasons before being retired. Selanne was the NHL's leading goal scorer both of the two seasons this jersey was used, including winning the inaugural Rocket Richard Trophy in 1999.
Our next video is Alexander Ovechkin accepting his Richard Trophy in 2009.
Here is an interview with 2010 Richard Trophy winners Stamkos and Crosby.