Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pearson To Lindsay

The trophy being held in Alexander Ovechkin's left hand is one of the more prestigious trophies that is given out on an annual basis at the NHL Awards. The Lester B. Pearson Trophy is given annually to "the most outstanding player from the regular season as voted by members of the National Hockey League Player's Association". It is the NHLPA's equivalent to the NHL's Hart Trophy in that it normally goes to the best player in the league as judged by his peers in the NHLPA. It was announced today, however, that the Lester B. Pearson Trophy will be renamed as the Ted Lindsay Trophy in honour of former Detroit Red Wings' legend Ted Lindsay, according to a statement from the NHLPA. The official announcement will happen Thursday at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Lindsay, a legend in Motown, was instrumental in the formation of the NHLPA during the 1950s. Lindsay was also credited as being the first player to hoist the Stanley Cup above his head and skate with it around the rink, something that is now quite common after the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the victors.

Because this award is voted upon by members of the NHLPA, I realize that they should have some say in terms of for whom the trophy is named. What I don't like is that it took forty years for the NHLPA to make this change. The first Lester B. Pearson Award was handed out in 1970-71 to Boston's Phil Esposito. Esposito was certainly tight with NHLPA boss Alan Eagleson, and there was never any problem with the name of the trophy until now.

I've gone over some of the interesting facts about the Lester B. Pearson Award, and I think that its former name was fine. I had no issues about calling it "the Pearson" ever. Personally, changing the name will only confuse casual fans more if they are just learning about the game.

Honestly, what I believe the NHLPA should have done is created the "Ted Lindsay Award" as a separate and distinct honour on its own. As to what it would be awarded for, combine the newly-founded Ted Lindsay Award and the NHL Foundation Award, which honours commitment, perseverance and teamwork in helping communities, and make it a joint award. After all, the NHL and NHLPA want to promote their stars within their communities, and there's nothing like some excellent charitable work to gain that exposure.

Honestly, I think Ted Lindsay was an excellent player. Four Stanley Cups, an Art Ross Trophy, and a trailblazing past in terms of sports labour relations says he is certainly worthy of being honoured.

However, Lindsay is also deeply committed to charitable work. His charity, the Ted Lindsay Foundation, was founded in 2001 and is working to find a cure for autism. The Ted Lindsay Foundation has raised over $1.5 million towards finding a cure for autism, and has given large sums of money to centers that are dedicated to helping children with autism. Clearly, the man is dedicated to his charitable work as much as he was his labour relations work.

Personally, keep the Lester B. Pearson Award as it is. Honour Ted Lindsay for the work he has done on behalf of players and on behalf of children everywhere with his own award.

Thoughts on this? Do you think it's a good idea to change the name of the Lester B. Pearson Award? Are there other changes the NHL has made that you would like to see changed back or abolished altogether? Hit me in the comments with your thoughts on these or other changes!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Jim BC said...

I don't have a problem with the name change. I don't have the time to look up why the award was named after Pearson to begin with but my thoughts are that it is better to appreciate Mr. Lindsay's efforts with the NHLPA.

I don't recall the name of the CBC movie that told Terrible Ted's story but I do think it's required viewing for anyone interested in the NHL's past and how the NHLPA came to be. He put up with a lot of crap...

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is just me, but I never cared about individual awards in any sport. And really, I have no idea what any of them are to begin with, so changing the name doesn't affect me.

Kris said...

I like the name change myself. I mean it is an evolving game. I can see the next one they change being the James Norris Trophy to the Bobby Orr Trophy. Great Post!