Established: Jan. 18, 1967
Mission Statement: The Professional Hockey Writers Association is dedicated to preserving the rights and improving the access for members of the North American-based media who cover hockey. The PHWA is comprised of approximately 300 dues-paying members in NHL markets who write about the sport for newspapers, magazines and online media. PHWA members vote on the following seven end-of-season NHL Awards: Hart Trophy, Calder Trophy, Selke Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy, Norris Trophy, Masterton Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy, in addition to NHL All-Star and All-Rookie teams.
PHWA EXECUTIVE BOARD
President: Frank Seravalli, TSN
Executive Vice President: Chris Johnston, Sportsnet
Executive Vice President: Emily Kaplan, ESPN
Treasurer: Sarah McLellan, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Registrar: Kevin McGran, Toronto Star
Secretary: Kevin Allen, formerly USA Today
Eastern Conference Representative: Rob Rossi, The Athletic
Western Conference Representative: Michael Russo, The Athletic
Awards Chair: Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet
Dillman Award Chair: Lisa Dillman, The Athletic
Elmer Ferguson Award Chair: Eric Duhatschek, The Athletic
Inclusion Co-Chair: Arpon Basu, The Athletic
Inclusion Co-Chair: Ryan Clark, The Athletic
Social Media Coordinator: Willie Ramirez, Associated Press
PAST PHWA PRESIDENTS
1966-68: Tom Fitzgerald, Boston Globe
1968-70: Red Fisher, Montreal Star
1970-79: Jack Berry, Detroit Free Press
1979-81: Bill Fleischman, Philadelphia Daily News
1981-85: Fran Rosa, Boston Globe
1985-87: Rod Beaton, USA Today
1987-93: Scott Morrison, Toronto Sun
1993-99: Jim Kelley, Buffalo News
1999-2001: Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
2001-03: Larry Brooks, New York Post
2003-13: Kevin Allen, USA Today
2013-17: Scott Burnside, ESPN
2017-18: Mark Spector, Sportsnet
2019-Present: Frank Seravalli, TSN
PHWA HISTORICAL TIMELINE
By Kevin Allen
Past PHWA President
Updated: July 1, 2020
With expansion looming and more interest in the NHL anticipated, sportswriters assigned to cover hockey during the 1966-67 season decided it was time to combine efforts in attempting to resolve the problems associated with chronicling the sport.
The original name of the group was the National Hockey League Writers Association.
Bylaws were written. Membership criteria was established. The group would have a local chapter in all six NHL cities. Each local chapter would have a president.
At the national level, the NHLWA would have a president, vice-president and secretary-treasurer, plus four directors.
The organization’s founding fathers believed the NHLWA would have clout with the league, and they were correct in that assessment. Here is look at how the association has evolved over the past 52 years:
1966-67: While attending the 20th NHL All-Star All-Star game in Montreal, a group of writers formed the NHLWA to represent writers’ interests in dealing with the NHL. Tom Fitzgerald (Boston Globe) was elected as the organization’s first president and Jacques Beauchamp (Montreal-Matin) was chosen as vice-president.
1967-68: The PHWA established the Bill Masterton Trophy, to be awarded annually to the player who exhibits “to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” The trophy honors the memory of the former Minnesota North Stars player who died Jan. 15, 1968 after collapsing during an NHL game. The first recipient was Claud Provost (Montreal Canadiens). He was a 15-year veteran when he won the award. Originally, it was assumed the award would primarily go to a veteran player, perhaps an unsung hero or player with a reputation for being his team’s hardest worker. But in recent years, the Masterton has gone most often to a player who has overcome medical hardship to find NHL success.
1968-69: Red Fisher (Montreal Star) elected PHWA president. George Gross (Toronto Telegram) was elected vice president.
1970-71: Jack Berry (Detroit Free Press) elected PHWA president.
1970-71: Sportswriter Shirley Fischler asked New York’s Human Rights Commission to review the NHLWA’s policy of only admitting men. Fischler applied for membership in the New York chapter, and had received no response. The New York chapter said her application was forwarded to the national officers for consideration and no decision had been reached.
1971-72: At the NHL All-Star Game in Boston, National Hockey League Writers Association officially changed its name to the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Secretary-treasurer Jack Dulmage (Windsor Star) said the change was necessary to “disassociate” the organization from the NHL.
1972-73: PHWA changes its rules to allow female members.
1974-75: Robin Herman (New York Times), a PHWA member, and radio journalist Marcel St. Cyr became the first females to enter a professional sports dressing room when they were credentialed for the 1975 NHL All-Star game in Montreal. At that time, Herman was the only female PHWA member. Amid the publicity created by the event, the New York Rangers’ wives asked their husbands to petition against women in the dressing room. According to news reports at the time, the Rangers then voted to limit Herman to areas outside the dressing area.
1979-80 to 1980-81: Bill Fleischman (Philadelphia Daily News) elected PHWA president.
1981-82 to 1984-85: Fran Rosa (Boston Globe) elected PHWA president.
1983-84: Hockey Hall of Fame began honoring “distinguished members of the hockey writing profession” with the Elmer Ferguson Award. Ferguson was an esteemed Montreal newspaper reporter who was in the first group to receive the award. Others who were honored in the first class: Jacques Beauchamp (Montreal-Matin, Le Journal de Montreal), Jim Burchard (New York World-Telegram), Red Burnett (Toronto Star), Dink Carroll (Montreal Gazette), Jim Coleman (Southam Newspapers), Ted Damata (Chicago Tribune), Marcel Desjardins (La Presse), Jack Dulmage (Windsor Star), Milt Dunnell (Toronto Star), Elmer Ferguson (Montreal Herald/Montreal Star), Tom Fitzgerald (Boston Globe), Trent Frayne (Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Toronto Globe and Mail), Al Laney (New York Herald Tribune), Joe Nichols (New York Times), Basil O’Meara (Montreal Star), Jim Vipond Toronto Globe and Mail), Lewis Walter (Detroit Times).
1985-86 to 1986-87: Rod Beaton (USA TODAY) elected PHWA president.
1986-87: On Feb. 4, 1987, three-term PHWA president Scott Morrison led a charge of reporters into the Toronto Maple Leafs’ dressing room in defiance of owner Harold Ballard’s banning of media from the dressing room. Ballard used a cane to swing at a Toronto Globe and Mail reporter, but no one was injured in the rebellion. But, it drew the league’s attention. The situation didn’t change overnight. But in the offseason, bylaws were changed to prevent Ballard from denying media access to the dressing room.
1987-88 to 1992-93: Scott Morrison (Toronto Sun) was elected PHWA President.
1987-1988: Morrison negotiates for the NHL to pay a $10,000 fee to the PHWA voting for NHL Awards. The money is primarily used for the organization’s Masterton scholarship.
1989-90: The PHWA established the Dick Dillman Award to be given to the NHL’s top public relations team of each season. The award honored the memory of the former Minnesota North Stars public relations guru who died unexpectedly on May 24, 1988. The PHWA had previously recognized Dillman’s work by awarding the North Stars’ the Red Burnett “Best Press box” award 11 times. His daughter Lisa Dillman (Athletic) is a PHWA member.
1996-97: On April 25, 1997, during the playoffs, PHWA president Jim Kelley was attacked by injured Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek outside the Sabres’ dressing room. Hasek was suspended for three playoff games and fined $10,000. Bystanders had restrained Hasek after he grabbed Kelley by the neck. Kelley was not injured during the confrontation. Hasek was unhappy over Kelley’s critical column about him. “There is no dispute that Mr. Hasek had physical contact with Mr. Kelley,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ruled. “Such contact between any NHL personnel — coaches, players, league officials or team executives — and media personnel will not be tolerated. We want a clear message sent to the media who cover our games that they have a safe environment.” Hasek apologized to Kelley, his team and the fans.
1993-94 to 1998-99: Jim Kelley (Buffalo News) elected PHWA President.
1999-00 to 2000-01: Helene Elliott (Los Angeles Times) elected as the first female PHWA president.
2000-01: Amid pressure from the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), PHWA members vote to discontinue accepting a fee from the NHL for its voting on awards.
2001-02 to 2002-03: Larry Brooks (New York Post) elected PHWA president.
2003-04 to 2012-13: Kevin Allen (USA TODAY) elected PHWA president.
2003-04: PHWA expanded its NHL Awards voting pool format from two-per-NHL-city to a list of “qualified voters.” From 2002-03 to 2003-04, the number of voters increased from 59 to 105. By 2006-07, more than 140 members were voting.
2004-05: PHWA successfully appeals the NHL’s revocation of Larry Brooks’ and Mark Everson’s (New York Post) right to use the NHL media site.
2004-05: The Dick Dillman Award is reinstated. It had been discontinued a few years before as a protest to access issues with NHL teams. Today, there are separate Dillman Awards for both the Eastern and Western Conference. On occasion, Lisa Dillman has presented the awards.
2004-05: Helene Elliott (Los Angeles Times) becomes first woman to win the Elmer Ferguson Award.
2010-11: Members of the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils chapters boycott voting for NHL Awards to protest the Islanders’ decision to revoke the credential of Islanders chapter member Chris Botta, who was writing for AOL Fanhouse.
2013-14 to 2016-17: Scott Burnside (ESPN) elected PHWA president.
2015-16: The Jim Kelley Memorial Scholarship is established to honor the memory of the PHWA’s past president who had died of cancer in 2010. The scholarship must go to a son or daughter of a PHWA member. Applicants are asked to write an essay about how their parent’s writing career has influenced their lives. The first winner was Paula Duhatschek, daughter of Eric Duhatschek (The Athletic).
2015-16: PHWA adds 10 national and independent broadcasters to its voting roll, including, Glenn Healy, John Shannon, Scott Oake, Ray Ferraro, Lavoie Renaud, Darren Dreger, Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, Craig Button and Nick Kypreos in the first year. Broadcasters help bring the PHWA’s voting bloc to approximately 175 voters each season.
2016-17: Mike Russo (Athletic) named the inaugural winner of the Red Fisher Award as the NHL’s top beat writer. The PHWA established the annual award to honor Fisher’s contributions to the writing profession.
2017-18: Mark Spector (Sportsnet) elected PHWA president.
2017-18: By an overwhelming margin, PHWA members voted to publish every voter’s selections after the NHL Awards winners are announced. The PHWA announced that 81.3% of the membership voted in favor of transparency.
2018-19: The PHWA retires membership card No. 1 to honor the memory of legendary hockey writer Red Fisher, who held card No. 1 when he died Jan. 19, 2018. Fisher wrote about the NHL for 58 years. Former PHWA president Mark Spector called Fisher “the father of hockey writing as we know it today.” Ben Olan, formerly of the Associated Press, has the No. 2 card and former Toronto Star columnist Frank Orr has card No. 3.
2019-20: Frank Seravalli (TSN) elected PHWA president.