The “12 Days of Christmas” is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
Today’s list actually features two separate awards, each of which a member of the Detroit Red Wings has won seven times. First, the Art Ross Trophy, awarded to the top point scorer in the league, and second, the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the top defensive forward in the league. For context, recent Art Ross winners include Leon Draisaitl and Nikita Kucherov, while Sean Couturier and Ryan O’Reilly are the last two Selke recipients.
Today’s countdown to Christmas begins with the Art Ross Trophy and the scoring line that won it more often than not during a decade of dominance.
The Production Line Won the Art Ross Trophy for 5 Straight Years
Ted Lindsay was the first Red Wing to ever win the Art Ross Trophy, and he did it just the third time the NHL awarded it, which was in the 1949-50 season. Then just 24 years old, he kicked off a five-year streak for the Red Wings, as fellow legend Gordie Howe went on to win it each season from 1950-51 through 1953-54. Howe would capture it twice more, in the 1956-57 and 1962-63 seasons, which remains the last time any Red Wing earned the trophy.
The years in which Lindsay and Howe earned the Art Ross were part of a decade of dominance from the famed Production Line. Lindsay, whose 78 points earned him the award in 1949-50, was in good company at the top, as linemates Sid Abel and Howe were not far behind after recording 69 and 68 points, respectively. The team won its fourth Stanley Cup that season, beginning a stretch of four championships in six seasons.
Howe, meanwhile, also won the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) in three of the six seasons he received the Art Ross, recording a combined 523 points in the process.
Though the Red Wings’ seven Art Ross Trophies are impressive, they are far from the most by a single team. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won 15 times, followed by the Edmonton Oilers (10), Montreal Canadiens (9), Chicago Blackhawks (8), and Boston Bruins (7). Wayne Gretzky’s 10 are more than any other player, followed by Mario Lemieux (6), and Howe (6).
A Red Wing has been close to the scoring title a number of times, as Pavel Datsyuk finished fourth with 97 points in both 2007-08 and 2008-09. Sergei Fedorov finished second with 120 points in 1993-94, and Steve Yzerman finished fourth in 1992-93 (137 points), third in 1989-90 (127 points) and third in 1988-89 (155 points).
Detroit Forwards Get Defensive in the 1990s and 2000s
The NHL first gave out the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1978, and no Red Wing captured it until Fedorov following the 1993-94 season. He went on to win it again in 1995-96, followed by Yzerman (1999-00), Kris Draper (2003-04), and Datsyuk (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10).
Fedorov’s season in 1993-94 was particularly special, as he finished with 120 points on 56 goals and 64 assists en route to earning the Hart Trophy (MVP), Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player, selected by the NHLPA), and a first-team All-Star selection in addition to his Selke Trophy. The other year he won, 1995-96, the Red Wings celebrated a 62-win season. Fedorov gave Detroit plenty of reasons over the years to retire his number, but those two seasons stand at the top of the list.
The Red Wings and Canadiens have each had a player win the Selke Trophy seven times, followed by the Bruins, with five. Patrice Bergeron and Bob Gainey both won four times, followed by Datsyuk, Guy Carbonneau, and Jere Lehtinen, with three wins apiece.
Raking in the Hardware
Detroit’s 11 Stanley Cups prove they are no stranger to success, and the team has hauled in the accolades over the years. Of all the major trophies given out at the end of the season — Art Ross, Selke, Hart, Norris, Calder, Lindsay, and Vezina — the Red Wings have won them a combined 44 times.
In the midst of a rebuild, it may be a few years before the Red Wings have a chance to earn more individual trophies, but with a pipeline full of promising draft picks who are performing well to this point, it’s just a matter of time before some of their players make it back to the awards ceremonies.