PHWA reveals 2023 NHL Awards ballots

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Since 1967, the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) has been counted on to independently vote on six major NHL Awards, as well as end-of-season All-Star and All-Rookie teams.

For the sixth consecutive year, the PHWA has published the ballot of each individual voter in the interest of full transparency.

“The 2022-23 NHL season will be remembered forever for some of the most incredible individual performances in decades,” said PHWA President Frank Seravalli. “Once again, the PHWA delivered with an honest and fair voting process that, in the end, recognized extremely deserving winners.

“We’re incredibly proud of the countless hours our voters put into their ballots – researching, watching at the rink, and gathering opinions from trusted sources to make sure we get it right. With more attention and scrutiny on our ballots than ever before, we’ve also put more time and thought into the process.”

The PHWA voting contingent this season included 180 members and 20 invited international broadcasters.

Out of 200 ballots distributed, three selected voters did not return a ballot in the allotted time: Tim Rosenthal (Bruins Daily), Henrik Sjoberg (HockeyNews.Se) and Cheryl Pounder (TSN). As per PHWA policy, those members have lost future voting privileges.

There were also procedural errors in the voting process that resulted in some ballots being rejected. Phil Thompson (Chicago Tribune) made an ineligible selection for the Calder Trophy, which nullified his trophy selections. Marc De Foy (Journal de Montréal), Ken Powtak (Associated Press), Gunnar Nordstrom (Expressen), Scott Powers (The Athletic) and Kyle Fredrickson (Denver Gazette) made omissions resulting in their All-Star team selections being voided. Salim Valji (TSN) and Harman Dayal (The Athletic) made ineligible selections nullifying their All-Rookie team selections.

In total, 200 ballots were distributed and of the 197 that were returned, 196 were counted for trophies, 192 were counted for All-Star teams, and 195 were counted for the All-Rookie team.

Each individual vote can be viewed at the links below:

Hart Memorial Trophy

James Norris Memorial Trophy

Calder Memorial Trophy

Frank J. Selke Trophy

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

2022-23 All-Star Team: Center

2022-23 All-Star Team: Left Wing

2022-23 All-Star Team: Right Wing

2022-23 All-Star Team: Defense

2022-23 All-Star Team: Goaltender

2022-23 All-Rookie Team: Forward

2022-23 All-Rookie Team: Defense

2022-23 All-Rookie Team: Goaltender

The PHWA wishes to congratulate all 2023 NHL Award winners and finalists on their well-deserved honors.​​

Hurricanes, Oilers selected as 2023 Dick Dillman Award winners for PR excellence

The Professional Hockey Writers Association is pleased to announce the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers have been selected as 2023 winners of the Dick Dillman Award, presented annually to honor the excellence of NHL public relations staffs in each conference.

The Hurricanes are no stranger to the Dillman, having been awarded the Dillman Trophy in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Similarly, the Oilers were honored by the selection committee in 2020-21.

“It’s no secret that PR staffs are one of the linchpins to storytelling for journalists, and the staffs in Edmonton and Carolina have shown themselves to be among the class of the hockey world time and time again,” said PHWA president Frank Seravalli. “Without their assistance and support, we’d have a much more difficult time telling hockey’s stories on a daily basis and serving as the conduit between fans and the players and executives they’re craving to learn more about. Thank you to Mike Sundheim and Jamie Cartmell and their teams for setting the bar for how to develop a rapport and relationship with the media in 2023.”

In Edmonton, the Oilers’ communications department is led by Jamie Cartmell, director of hockey communications, along with hockey communications manager Shawn May. 

“We’re honoured and humbled to be selected as the 2023 Dick Dillman Award winner,” said Cartmell. “Our thanks to not only to the voting members of the PHWA for this recognition, but also our players, coaches and hockey operations staff whose cooperation and willingness to share their time and their stories have made this award possible. Thanks also to those who cover the Edmonton Oilers, your efforts are critical to our success off the ice and it’s our pleasure to work with you.”

The Carolina Hurricanes public relations staff is headed by Mike Sundheim, longtime vice president of communications and team services, along with Mike Brown, manager of communications and David Piper, communications coordinator. 

“We take pride in working with writers from across the league and trying to be as helpful as we can,” Sundheim said. “That wouldn’t be possible without buy-in from our owner, GM, coaching staff and players, and for that we are grateful. Thank you to the PHWA for this honor, which truly means a lot to our staff.”

The Dillman Award is presented in honor of the late, great Minnesota North Stars public relations guru Dick Dillman. The Dillman committee is chaired by Dillman’s daughter, Lisa Dillman, and voting is conducted by a panel of senior PHWA members.

PHWA Ballots: Marchessault’s 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy win

LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault was the overwhelmingly choice for 57th winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs by a panel of Professional Hockey Writers Association members on Tuesday night.

Marchessault, 32, became the first undrafted player since Wayne Gretzky in 1988 to collect the Conn Smythe Trophy. By scoring 13 clutch goals over Vegas’ playoff run – 10 of which either tied the game or gave the Golden Knights the lead – Marchessault earned 13 of 18 possible first place votes.

Vegas teammates Jack Eichel and Adin Hill finished second and third in voting, respectively, while Golden Knights captain Mark Stone and Florida forward Matthew Tkachuk also garnered votes. Eichel, who paced the postseason in points, earned the other five first place votes.

Over the course of the Golden Knights’ 59-day quest for hockey’s holy grail, Marchessault tied for the postseason lead in goals (13) and finished second in points (25). He registered at least one point in all five of the Stanley Cup Final games, bridging a total 10-game point streak that spanned the last five games of the Western Conference Final. One of the original six Golden Misfits still remaining with the Golden Knights since the 2017 Expansion Draft, Marchessault has appeared in every playoff game in Vegas franchise history.

Marchessault is one of only 10 wingers to win the Conn Smythe, joining Alex Ovechkin (2018), Justin Williams (2014) and Patrick Kane (2013) in the NHL’s salary cap era. The 5-foot-9 native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, played for three different teams in his first four years in the NHL before being castoff alongside Reilly Smith by the Florida Panthers in the Expansion Draft. Marchessault lifted the Conn Smythe while Smith netted the Cup-clinching goal against their former team in the Final.

In the interest of full transparency, the PHWA has once again revealed each individual ballot for all 18 Conn Smythe voters:

2023 Conn Smythe Trophy ballots from Professional Hockey Writers Association members.

Voting Point Totals
Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas: 80 points (13 first place votes)
Jack Eichel, Vegas: 56 points (5 first place votes)
Adin Hill, Vegas: 17 points
Mark Stone, Vegas: 8 points
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida: 1 point

Points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis and the deadline to submit ballots to the NHL occurred with 10 minutes remaining in Game 5.

PHWA Women’s Hockey Chapter votes Loren Gabel as MVP of Premier Hockey Federation

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced Boston Pride newcomer Loren Gabel has been selected as both the PHF Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

The MVP award was determined by an independent vote conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) Women’s Hockey Chapter, while the Outstanding Player of the Year award recipient was selected by members of the PHF Players’ Association (PHFPA).

This year marked the first time that PHWA members voted on PHF MVP.

“It is an absolute honor to win the 2022-23 MVP and Outstanding Player of the Year awards, and I am proud to be recognized by my fellow players and by the dedicated media that cover this league,” said Gabel. “I couldn’t have done it without every single person who has helped me get to this point. The PHF has a tremendous amount of talent, and I am fortunate that I get to play alongside and against some of the best every day. I am thankful for the opportunity I was given to play in Boston, and I am looking forward to my future in the PHF.”

The MVP and Outstanding Player of the Year honors bring Gabel’s 2022-23 awards count to four, making her one of the most decorated players in single-season history. She was also selected as the PHF Newcomer of the Year and earned the Offensive Player of the Year award as the league’s top regular-season scorer.

Gabel helped Boston finish in first place in the overall standings with the league’s highest-scoring offense. Her 40 points in 22 games tied a single-season record, while her 20 goals and 20 assists were both leading figures that gave the league its first offensive triple-crown winner since the inaugural 2015-16 campaign.

“As chair of the newly formed Women’s Hockey Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA), it is an honor to announce Boston Pride forward Loren Gabel as the 2023 PHF Most Valuable Player,” PHWA chair Erica L. Ayala said. “Although this isn’t the first time media have voted for league awards, this is the inaugural year media have voted as members of the PHWA. Loren received six first-ballot votes from our panel of 13 women’s hockey reporters and led all vote-getters with 43 points overall. It was an honor to represent the PHWA alongside Commissioner Reagan Carey, PHF Players Association Executive Director Nicole Corriero, and the league’s first-ever MVP Brianna Decker, to surprise Loren with the news. Congratulations to Loren on a spectacular first season! We look forward to all that is to come in what we hope is a long professional hockey career.”

Loren GabelBoston Pride64143
Kennedy MarchmentConnecticut Whale35434
Corinne SchroederBoston Pride22218
Brittany HowardToronto Six11210
Jade Downie-LandryMontréal Force1016
Ann-Sophie BettezMontréal Force0103
Mikyla Grant-MentisBuffalo Beauts0022
Fanni Garat-GasparicsMetropolitan Riveters0011

PHWA announces 2023 Masterton Trophy nominees

The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) is pleased to announce the 2023 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominees.

Each of the PHWA’s 32 local chapters submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.”

The top three vote-getters, as determined by a membership-wide runoff, will be designated as finalists. The Masterton Trophy will be awarded, along with the other NHL major awards, during the Stanley Cup Final.

The following are this year’s nominees:

ANAHEIM — JAKOB SILFVERBERG: The 32-year-old Silfverberg has represented hard-working consistency over his 10 seasons with the Ducks but his ability to persist and give them some effective play after dealing with health issues in recent years is why he deserves to be nominated for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He has overcome major hip surgery and blood clotting issues in his leg in the last two years. Healthy again, Silfverberg has missed only one game and brought his offensive production back into double digits in goals (10) and assists (16) while remaining dedicated to playing at both ends of the ice.

ARIZONA — CLAYTON KELLER: Clayton Keller could have focused his entire offseason on rehab. When he broke his right femur into two clean pieces after crashing into the boards on March 30, 2022, most analysts — internal and external — figured he would miss the start of the season. But this summer wasn’t just about getting healthy; it was about getting better. On his own dime, Keller hired a battery of specialists to help with everything from movement and mental state to on-ice strategy. Now he’s threatening to break Keith Tkachuk’s single-season Coyotes franchise points record, and he has blossomed into a bona fide NHL superstar.

BOSTON — NICK FOLIGNO: After a challenging first season with the Boston Bruins where injuries got in the way, Nick Foligno showed his determination and perseverance in enjoying a bounce-back season in Boston. After scoring just two goals in 2021-22, the 35-year-old Foligno rebounded with 10 goals and 26 points in 60 games while playing a vital bottom-6 role for a Boston Bruins hockey team that took the rest of the NHL by absolute storm. His leadership off the ice also helped tighten the team’s bond while shepherding along some of his younger teammates and lightening the captaincy load on Patrice Bergeron.

BUFFALO — CRAIG ANDERSON: The NHL’s oldest player at 41 years, goalie Craig Anderson agreed to come back for one more season and has been a major presence in both the locker room and on the ice. Coach Don Granato considers Anderson another coach and has often spoken of the calming influence the goalie has had on the NHL’s youngest team. Anderson, the 2017 Masterton winner while with Ottawa, has navigated Buffalo’s three-goalie rotation to win at least 10 games for the 15th time in his career while posting a .908 save percentage.

CALGARY — MIKAEL BACKLUND: Flames center Mikael Backlund is not only an example of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game, but you can add another important word to the list — loyalty. In March, Backlund joined an exclusive club by becoming just the third player to log 900 career regular-season appearances on behalf of the Flames franchise. The 34-year-old has been a model citizen around the Scotiabank Saddledome. He’s reliable on the ice, a perennial contender for the fittest Flame title, a leader in the locker room, and active in a community he has now called home for the past 14 seasons.

CAROLINA — JORDAN MARTINOOK: Jordan Martinook had to hold his breath at the start of the season after the Hurricanes put him on waivers in a cap-related move. Five months later, it’s hard to imagine Carolina without him. The 30-year-old alternate captain, who has battled injuries the past three seasons, has cemented himself in the Hurricanes’ top nine by becoming an invaluable part of the team’s shutdown line. His 11 goals are one shy of his total from the last three years, and his 31 points are a career-high. Most importantly, he’s a locker room leader and the ultimate team-first player.

CHICAGO — ALEX STALOCK: The Masterton shouldn’t just be a comeback player of the year award, but Alex Stalock’s dedication and perseverance in the face of the unknown — a diagnosis of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) following a bout with Covid-19 that allowed him to play just one NHL game over the 2021 and 2022-23 seasons — can’t be understated. And the gregarious goalie’s popularity and respect leaguewide despite being a journeyman/tweener throughout his career underscores his high level of sportsmanship. That he’s played so well (and so entertainingly) behind such a terrible team despite a concussion and ocular dysfunction (separate injuries) only boosts his case.

COLORADO — ANDREW COGLIANO: If you leave the Avalanche dressing room following a morning skate, you’ll probably see Andrew Cogliano running springs or doing some form of squat. At 35 years old and 1,200-plus games into his NHL career, Cogliano is as dedicated to his craft as ever. Cogliano came to Colorado from San Jose at the 2022 trade deadline and, as one of the most respected veterans in the league, became an instant leader, giving a memorable speech to the team ahead of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. After winning his first championship, he re-signed with Colorado for another year, and he has his most goals in a season since 2017-18.

COLUMBUS — BOONE JENNER: During a 10-year NHL career, Boone Jenner has built a reputation as one of the league’s most dedicated and respected players. The Columbus chapter of the PHWA is proud to nominate him for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Jenner, 29, is relentlessly competitive but rarely crosses the line with opponents or officials. He has played as the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 center all season, playing higher in the lineup because of a desperate need on the Columbus roster. Despite missing three weeks (11 games) with a broken thumb, Jenner has a club-leading 26 goals, the second-highest total of his career.

DALLAS — JAMIE BENN: In the four years coming into this season, Jamie Benn’s play was heavily scrutinized by those inside the Stars organization and those on the outside. Benn rose to prominence as a prolific scorer but his production took a dip since the 2018-19 season. After an offseason of altering his workout routine, Benn is having one of his most productive seasons in half a decade. He also played in his 1,000th career NHL game in February and became the longest-tenured captain in franchise history.

DETROIT — ROBBY FABBRI: At age 27, Fabbri already has undergone three ACL surgeries. His latest one delayed his debut this season to Jan. 4. . Fabbri’s determination showed in how energetically and effectively he played, as he recorded goals in three of his first four games. He immediately elbowed his way into the top six mix and power play time. Fabbri appeared in 28 games, recording seven goals and nine assists.

EDMONTON — DEREK RYAN: Derek Ryan was an undrafted 24-year-old when he graduated from the University of Alberta Golden Bears 12 years ago, and left Edmonton for four years of pro hockey Europe. He rekindled his NHL dream in 2015, Carolina camp fodder at age 29. Today he is 36 and a trusted depth forward in Edmonton, seventh on the team with 12 goals. Dependable, with better hands than you’d think, he’s approaching 500 NHL games played. “My life’s changed a lot since my university days,” said Ryan, the Oilers nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. “It’s nice to (be) back here.”

FLORIDA — PATRIC HORNQVIST: After winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hornqvist really does not have anything to prove on the ice. But yet, there he is, each and every day, working out in yellow no-contact garb with the Panthers either in practice, morning skates or just to warm up the goalies. Hornqvist, 36, has been on long-term injured reserve after suffering his second concussion within a span of a month back in December. The Panthers say he will not play again this season, yet there the 15-year veteran is there every time the Panthers hit the ice. Florida coach Paul Maurice also credits Hornqvist for helping Anthony Duclair come back from Achilles tendon surgery as those two were workout partners in the months leading up to Duclair’s return. Just don’t call him ‘Coach Hornqvist.’ He’s not ready for that just yet.

LOS ANGELES — PHEONIX COPLEY: When Pheonix Copley was signed on July 13, 2022 by Los Angeles as a free agent, the move was thought to be a minor league goaltending depth add as Pheonix had only played two NHL games since the 2019-‘20 season. But with established starters Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen underachieving, the 31-year-old Copley was summoned to the big club and made his biggest save, that of the Kings season. He set a franchise record by becoming the fastest goaltender to reach the 20-win mark needing only 29 appearances and earned a one-year contract extension.

MINNESOTA — MASON SHAW: When Mason Shaw tore an ACL for the third time, his father, Aaron, flew to Des Moines to take his son home for good. Instead, Shaw stayed, began his third six-month rehab and this past fall had an exceptional training camp before being named Iowa Wild captain. Called up after two games, the 24-year-old Shaw never left. He became a fourth-line mainstay and penalty killer before suffering another season-ending knee injury on April 1 at Vegas. Shaw could have quit umpteen times. He could have been a minor leaguer forever. Instead, he worked exhaustively to become an NHLer. That’s why as devastated as teammates were for him in early April, they have no doubt he’ll be back.

MONTRÉAL — ALEX BELZILE: À 31 ans, Alex Belzile a marqué son premier but dans la LNH le 12 février dernier contre les Oilers d’Edmonton. Il en était à son 20e match avec le Canadien, réparti sur les trois dernières saisons. Depuis l’époque de l’expansion de 1967, il est le plus vieux joueur du Canadien à obtenir son premier but. Jamais, Belzile n’a abandonné son rêve d’atteindre la grande ligue. Il a franchi les étapes une à la fois, jouant 168 matchs dans la ECHL à Gwinnett en Georgie, à Anchorage en Alaska, à Boise en Idaho, à Fort Wayne en Indiana et à Loveland au Colorado. Il a aussi visité plusieurs villes de la Ligue américaine avec des arrêts à Hamilton, San Antonio et Laval pour un total de 319 rencontres. Capitaine du Rocket de Laval en début de saison, l’ailier symbolise la persévérance et le dévouement pour son sport.

Alex Belzile scored his first NHL goal on Feb. 12 against the Edmonton Oilers…at 31 years of age. It was his 20th game with the Canadiens spread over the past three seasons. Since the 1967 expansion, he is the oldest Canadiens player ever to score his first NHL goal. Belzile never gave up on his dream of reaching the NHL, getting there step by step. He played 168 games in the ECHL, from Gwinnett County, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska to Fort Wayne, Indiana to Boise, Idaho to Loveland, Colorado. His stops over 319 games in the AHL included places like Hamilton, Ontario, San Antonio, Texas, and finally, Laval, Quebec. Named captain of the Laval Rocket at the beginning of this season, the winger personifies perseverance and dedication to hockey.

NASHVILLE — CODY GLASS: Despite just turning 24, Glass has faced his share of adversity in his young career, including injuries, inconsistencies that led to long stretches in the minors, and even being stuck in the U.S. during the height of Covid-19 unable to return home to his native Canada while rehabbing a torn ACL. Called into GM David Poile’s office prior to the team’s season-opening trip to Europe, Glass became emotional when told he would be accompanying the team. He’s remained at the NHL level all season, spending a significant amount of time centering Nashville’s top line.

NEW JERSEY — DOUGIE HAMILTON: Dougie Hamilton is a Canadian defenseman who plays for the New Jersey Devils. The Boston Bruins selected Hamilton with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft – and he’s grown into one of the league’s top defensemen since then. Hamilton, 29, has a career-high in points (71), goals (20) and assists (51) this season, despite suffering a brutal jaw injury last January. Hamilton said he “still can’t feel” his jaw sometimes, but he’s persevered and has been a key part of the Devils’ turnaround season (New Jersey clinched its first playoff berth since 2017-18 on March 25).

NEW YORK (ISLANDERS) — ZACH PARISE: Zach Parise: At 38, Zach Parise is a 20-goal scorer for the 11th time in 18 NHL seasons and for the first time since 2019-20, making him and the late J.P. Parise the fourth father-son duo in NHL history with 20 goals for the same franchise. He’s played on the top line and is a regular on both special teams. His teammates rave about how supportive he is. In short, hockey is fun again for Parise after his on-ice role was reduced by the Wild and he was ultimately bought out of the final four seasons of a 13-year, $98 million deal.

NEW YORK (RANGERS) — JIMMY VESEY: A journeyman that competed for four different teams over three seasons, Jimmy Vesey returned to the first team he signed with as a coveted free agent out of Harvard, the Rangers, on a professional tryout. He parlayed it into a one-year contract, and then a two-year extension through 2024-25 after it became clear that he was an invaluable addition to the lineup. Vesey, who had to change his game over those tough three seasons to remain in the NHL, saw time on every single line this season. His current 24 points represent his highest production since his last season in New York in 2018-19. This season has been a full circle moment for Vesey, who seemingly always wanted to make it work on Broadway and now he actually has.

OTTAWA — DERICK BRASSARD: Derick Brassard arrived at training camp on a PTO and was considered a long shot to crack the Senators’ roster. But the 35-year-old earned a contract just prior to the start of the regular season and has carved out a full-time role with the Senators in 2022-23. At Madison Square Garden in March, Brassard suited up for his 1,000th career NHL game and embraced the moment by scoring two goals to help propel the Senators to a victory.

PHILADELPHIA — NICK SEELER: The 29-year-old defenseman is a study in perseverance. In 2020-21, he stepped away from hockey for a season because he needed a “mental and physical break.” A journeyman most of his career, he wasn’t expected to be a regular this season. But he has become one of the Flyers’ best defensemen. He has set a career-high in goals and points, is second on the Flyers in hits, and is second among their D-men with a plus-2 rating. In addition, he is among the NHL leaders in blocked shots. Seeler is the ultimate team player. He is someone who always hustles, always plays with physicality, and drops his gloves to protect a teammate. For someone who left the sport for a year, he has revived his career and made his mark.

PITTSBURGH — KRIS LETANG: The Penguins’ nominee for a fourth time, Letang’s 17-year career has been one setback after another. His best friend, Luc Bourdon, died in a motorcycle accident during Letang’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final (2008). Letang, a lifetime sufferer of debilitating migraine, had a stroke (2015) that led to the diagnosis of a small hole in his heart. He and his wife lost a child to a miscarriage (2016). A neck injury forced him to miss the Penguins’ Cup run (2017). He also has missed games on three occasions because of a concussion. But even with all of that, this season has been especially trying for Letang. He missed time because of a second stroke and the death of his father. Still, Letang remains the Penguins’ best defenseman — leading that position in goals, points, and minutes — while also serving as a mentor to Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a fellow French Canadian who lives with Letang’s family in Pittsburgh. Always a deserving nominee, Letang would be a worthy winner of the Masterton Trophy.

SAN JOSE — NIKOLAI KNYZHOV: Knyzhov was the Sharks’ rookie of the year in 2020-21. That season ended with sports hernia surgery, which set off a nearly two-year odyssey to get back to game action. The first surgery led to four total procedures, infection, and missing all of 2021-22. Then, in the run up to this season, Knyzhov suffered a torn Achilles tendon. He earned consistent praise for his attitude and work ethic during the rehab process. Knyzhov returned to play in the AHL on Jan. 25 – 623 days after his last game with the Sharks, and to the NHL on March 6.

SEATTLE — BRANDON TANEV: Rugged Kraken winger Brandon Tanev overcame a torn ACL that ended his 2021-22 season midway through and has rallied to form part of arguably the NHL’s best fourth line for his playoff-bound squad. Admired by teammates for his locker room sense of humor and gritty on- ice leadership, Tanev has also taken a primary role in helping the Kraken form lasting bonds within the Seattle community. He was the first Kraken player last season to volunteer to make community visits. This season, he’s continued that in hospitals and schools – his ghost-like facial expressions becoming a huge hit with children.

ST. LOUIS — SAMMY BLAIS: Sammy Blais, 26, endured long odds of making it to the NHL as a sixth-round draft pick of the Blues in 2014. Not only did the winger find his way into the league, but he was a productive member of St. Louis’ Stanley Cup-winning club in 2019. In 2021, Blais was traded to the New York Rangers in a high-profile trade involving Pavel Buchnevich, but he played in just 14 games before suffering a torn ACL and missing the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Blais returned to the Rangers’ roster in 2022 but was subsequently dealt back to the Blues in another high-profile trade involving Vladimir Tarasenko in 2023. After scoring zero goals with the Rangers in 54 games, Blais eclipsed his career point total in St. Louis.

TAMPA BAY — PIERRE-EDOUARD BELLEMARE: In a Lightning locker room full of stars, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare carves out his leadership niche with his constant positive attitude and passion for the game. This season, he played his 608th NHL game, setting the record for most played by a French national. He’s played with a heavy heart. In October, he found out that cancer had returned for his mother, Frederique. He left the team briefly around Thanksgiving to return to France to essentially say goodbye to his mother. Days after his mother died in late January, Bellemare gave an inspirational speech to his team and in his second game back, scored a goal in the Lightning’s win over the Kings and pointed to the sky.

TORONTO — MARK GIORDANO: The oldest Maple Leaf at age 39, Giordano broke the modern-day NHL record for most career shot blocks in February with his 2,045th. While the stat has only been kept regularly by the league since 2005-06, it remains a remarkable achievement, given how hard pucks are fired today and the heightened risk of injury. As of early April, he is also ranked in the top 30 for blocks by an NHL defenceman this season. Giordano has proved indispensable for the Leafs in many other ways, as a mentor to the youngest players and the club’s last defenceman to take a game off in the 2022-23 regular season, consistently ignoring team suggestions to skip morning skates. In his first full season in Toronto, he has averaged 18:57 of ice time. In the summer of 2022, Giordano signed a two-year contract at a near minimum salary to try and help the team’s tight salary cap situation and be part of his hometown’s first appearance in the Stanley Cup final since 1967.

VANCOUVER — BROCK BOESER: The Canucks winger is in his sixth NHL season and none have been easy. He lost his father to dementia and cancer last season, an exceptionally painful loss for him and his family. This season he suffered a wrist injury in pre-season, came back, had his surgical wound re-open, putting him back on the shelf for a time, then was nearly a healthy scratch on Hockey Fights Cancer night. But since Christmas, he’s improved his game and has become the no. 1 choice on J.T. Miller’s right wing. He’s now three points shy of tying a career-high while proving to be a solid two-way winger.

VEGAS — PHIL KESSEL: Kessel’s perseverance and dedication to ice hockey are unquestionable with his 1,060 (and counting) consecutive games played as proof. Kessel has played through bumps, bruises, and worse to be there for his team night in and night out for more than 13 years. The Ironman streak alone is worthy of the nomination, and his love for the game helped cement it. He’s one of the most popular players in every dressing room he enters, and his smile on the ice every day at practice is contagious.

WASHINGTON — JOHN CARLSON: The same night he assisted on Alex Ovechkin’s 801st goal and minutes before No. 802, John Carlson took a slap shot to the head from former teammate Brenden Dillon. Carlson went to the hospital. The damage was a fractured skull and a severed temporal artery. Even with the Capitals realistically out of the playoff chase, Carlson returned exactly three months later to show he could still play hockey in light of the injury.

WINNIPEG — SAM GAGNER: It hasn’t been an easy road for Sam Gagner, whose path to 1,000 NHL games included several unplanned stops in the minors during the past several seasons. But those three demotions to the American Hockey League didn’t diminish Gagner’s love for hockey, it simply provided some additional motivation and perspective. The sixth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft was signed by the Jets in early September to provide some versatility and flexibility. That’s exactly what he was able to do, playing a variety of roles before his season came to a premature end after he underwent hip surgery.

PHWA, PHF announce Media Partnership & Women’s Hockey Chapter

BOSTON, MA — The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), in association with the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA), has announced a new media partnership that includes the PHWA independently voting on an array of PHF annual awards. The partnership began with the introduction of a PHWA Women’s Hockey Chapter that includes 13 inaugural members who cast ballots to determine the PHF’s Most Valuable Player of the 2022-23 season.

“The growth of professional women’s hockey is accelerated with impactful collaborations and increased visibility in the media which make this partnership with the PHWA a win for our sport,” PHF commissioner Reagan Carey said. “We’re proud that the PHWA has recognized a significant opportunity with thePHF and the thriving community of dedicated and talented women’s hockey contributors we’re grateful for. Their influence as part of our awards process is another example of trailblazing initiatives within the PHF and is an important step in the enhancement and amplification of these prestigious honors.”

The PHWA has independently voted on the biggest NHL Awards, including the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng, and Conn Smythe trophies, each season for more than six decades. The PHWA managed the PHF’s MVP voting process for 2023 and the partnership is expected to expand next season to include other awards that celebrate and honor annual excellence in the game. The PHWA will also have a seat at the table in helping shape the PHF’s media access policy in the near future.

“We are thrilled to witness the growth of women’s hockey, and we’re appreciative of the stability, resources, and leadership that the PHF has demonstrated,” PHWA president Frank Seravalli said. “We are excited to collaborate with the PHF and branch out into a league beyond the NHL for the first time in our organization’s 56-year history. It was time. Our newest members have poured their souls into covering the women’s game like a blanket, and we’re proud to bolster the premier women’s hockey writers on the planet with more support and resources to aid and enhance their coverage.”

Finalists for 2022-23 PHF MVP and other annual league awards will be announced in advance of Sunday’s 2023 Isobel Cup Championship at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona, as the Toronto Six meet the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Award recipients will be announced individually following the final.

PHWA mourns the loss of trailblazing member Robin Herman

Robin Herman refused to accept anything short of equal access for women covering the National Hockey League – no matter the sexist taunt or crude comment thrown her way.

And she heard them all.

“Go ahead if you want to see nude men,” Herman was told by Atlanta Flames coach Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion in 1974.

Some players clutched their towels when Herman entered. Others thought it would be funny to yank away a teammate’s towel during an interview.

Once, Toronto Maple Leafs manager Harold Ballard said that women would be allowed to ask players questions after games if they also took off all of their clothes.

She persisted nonetheless.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association is mourning the passing of Herman, a pioneer member who broke the hockey media’s gender barrier as one of the first female reporters to enter a professional sports locker room. Herman died this week at 70 after a battle with ovarian cancer, her family told the New York Times.

Herman was the PHWA’s lone female member in 1974-75. After being denied at various team facilities throughout the league, she burst through at the 1975 All-Star Game in Montreal, when the game’s coaches – Fred Shero and Bep Guidolin – said they had no problem with a woman entering the locker room.

Herman, just 23 at the time, and Montreal-based radio reporter Marcelle St. Cyr broke the barrier when they walked into those Forum locker rooms, forging a path forward for so many women interested in covering pro sports.

“Every female sportswriter and TV sports personality owes a great debt to Robin Herman,” said Los Angeles Times columnist Helene Elliott, the PHWA’s only female president and Elmer Ferguson Award winner.

“If not for her and her insistence on being allowed to do a job she was eminently qualified to do, the door would never have opened for hundreds of women who followed because she made it possible.”

Elliott said she recently spoke a young male journalist and mentioned that early in her career she was not allowed into many locker rooms.

“He had no idea that had ever been the case,” Elliott said. “If not for Robin and Lawrie Mifflin and Mary Flannery and a few others, equal access might have come about far more slowly than it did.”

To be fair, the Professional Hockey Writers Association was not initially inclusive when it came to accepting female members. Former PHWA president Kevin Allen learned while documenting the organization’s history that New York-based reporter Shirley Fischler asked the Human Rights Commission in 1970 to investigate the PHWA’s practice of only admitting men. The PHWA’s senior leadership at the time never replied to Fischler.

In 1972-73, two seasons later, the PHWA reconsidered and allowed female members. Herman was the organization’s lone female member in 1974-75 while covering the New York Islanders for the New York Times.

By the time Larry Brooks began covering the Islanders for the New York Post in 1976, it was the norm for women to be covering hockey in New York, in part because of Herman’s courage of conviction.

“Robin was a trailblazer,” Brooks said on Thursday. “We had several women covering New York hockey teams – Robin, Lawrie Mifflin, Helene Elliott, Mary Flannery, Robin Finn. That was just business as usual for me. Robin and I were friends. She was a pro’s pro, sharp, excellent reporter, could write [well]. She was tough, as all the women had to be in order to make it.”

Herman moved to the New York Rangers beat in 1978, ending her five-year run covering hockey in 1979 with a move to the paper’s metropolitan desk. It wasn’t until 1987 – some 12 years after Herman first entered the locker room at All-Star weekend – that the NHL formally instituted media regulations that granted league-wide access for all accredited journalists, regardless of gender.

Herman later wrote for The Washington Post and spent 13 years at Harvard University’s School of Public Health as assistant dean for communications before retiring in 2012. While retired, Herman began an appropriately titled blog “The Girl in the Locker Room,” which is how she will be forever remembered in the organization.

“Fittingly, the dressing room Robin set foot in was that of the storied Montréal Canadiens,” said current PHWA member Erin Brown. “Above the stalls is the message: ‘To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.’ I always thought that was perfect for such a historic moment, and a reminder to all of us women who have pursued careers in sports. We’ve got the torch, Robin. I hope we’re doing our part to hold it high for the next generation of girls as you did for us.”

The Professional Hockey Writers Association sends sincere condolences to Herman’s husband, Paul Horvitz, as well as her two children, Eva and Zachary, and two grandchildren.

To read more about Herman, please visit her obituary in the New York Times.

PHWA: Fighting for fair media access since 1967

When sportswriters formed the National Hockey League Writers Association in 1967, it’s doubtful they anticipated that members would someday need to know how to storm a castle.

On Feb. 4, 1987, the organization’s president Scott Morrison (Toronto Sun) and a platoon of writers pushed past security and into the Toronto Maple Leafs post-game dressing room in violation of owner Harold Ballard’s edict that no media was allowed.

“Scotty was like King Arthur leading the charge,” recalled Toronto Sun writer Lance Hornby.

Ballard has closed the dressing room when the NHL had decreed that he had to grant the equal access to female reporters. Opposed to women in the dressing room, Ballard concentrated on “equal” being interchangeable with “the same” He ordered that no one, male or female, could interview players in the dressing room.

Even players were miffed that they had to do interviews in the hallways.

“It was brutal,” Morrison said. “There would be a lot of nights on the road where you would be in a barn like St. Louis Arena and [Maple Leafs public relations director] Bob Stellick would have to drag guys out of the room wrapped in a towel and nothing else. They were in filthy hallways in the bowels of arenas. The wind would blow through. Players were tired of it. None of us were getting any one-on-ones. We weren’t getting any traction complaining to the league.”

At the Cyrano bar in Toronto, Morrison met with the sports editors of all of the Toronto newspapers, plus the Hamilton Spectator. The battle plan was drawn up.

Not sure how anyone was going to react, writers steeled themselves like they were preparing for a street brawl.

“I remember saying to the late Tony Fitz-gerald before we went in, ” Hornby said, “I’ll see you on the other side.”

They pushed through the door in two waves: Morrison led the writers and then the radio and television people, not knowing exactly what was happening, formed the second attack force.

As everyone fanned out to conduct interviews, players began to laugh. “They thought it was a hoot,” Morrison recalled.

According to Hornby, Salming asked: “Is this Christmas?”

Not everyone thought it was funny. Ballard had his assistant wheel him down to meet the invaders. He was cursing and waving his cane. “He swung it at a Toronto Globe and Mail photographer,” Hornby said.

Now 33 years later, veterans of that skirmish say the most amazing aspect of the charge of the writer’s brigade, is that people kept the plan secret. “That’s really hard to do in Toronto,” Hornby said.

Later, Morrison said he “semi-apologized” to Stellick “for putting him in a bad position.”

Stellick had always been sympathetic to the writers’ position, but couldn’t do anything about it. But Morrison felt strongly that the writers had to do something bold.

Stellick had wondered why this Los Angeles-Toronto game on a Wednesday had drawn so many writers. Each paper had three or four people at the game. The press box was full.

“Stellick told me, “I couldn’t figure it out,” Morrison recalled.

The daring raid on the Maple Leafs’ dressing room didn’t immediately fix the problem. It was back to interviews outside the dressing room, with more security, at the next Toronto home game. “But it got the league’s attention,” Hornby said.

Morrison said NHL public relations director Gary Meagher, who was sympathetic to the writer’s cause, helped facilitate a meeting with NHL president John Ziegler at the draft. It was agreed that the league would change the bylaws to prevent Ballard, or any other owner, from using them to deny access.

The NHLWA, later renamed the Professional Hockey Writers Association, was formed with the idea that unity would give writers more strength in dealing with the NHL on problems. That turned out to be true, particularly in the early years of the organization.

Nashville Predators senior vice president Gerry Helper started as a public relations person with the Buffalo Sabres in 1979 and recalls the “PHWA had a fair amount of influence at that stage.”

In 1979, the NHL had grown from 17 to 21 teams by annexing World Hockey Association teams.

“If you think back about how fans got their information, it was through the writers,” Helper said. “So the writers carried a lot of clout. If the PHWA said, we need x amount of phones in the press box, the league and teams really worked to make that happen.”

In the early years, making sure women were allowed into the locker room, and treated appropriately, were always significant issues, even as late as the 1980s.

To put this issue into perspective, consider the PHWA didn’t allow women to join the organization up until the mid-1970s. Robin Herman (New York Times) was the PHWA’s only female member when she became the first woman to enter an NHL dressing room at the 1975 All-Star Game in Montreal.

“It was a sideshow for all terrible reasons,” said 2019 Elmer Ferguson winner Frank Brown, who was working at the game. “Which players were going to wear a towel and which ones weren’t? Was there going to be a scene at the doorway.”

Brown said Herman would have much preferred to just do her job without the spotlight.Her groundbreaking locker room appearance didn’t instantly transform the NHL dressing rooms into a female-friendly place.

Helene Elliott (Los Angeles Times) began working professionally at the Chicago Sun Times in 1977 and then went to Newsday in 1979 before moving to the LA Times in 1989. How difficult was it for women?

“Very,” Elliott says bluntly.

She said there were dozens of times when she had to overcome impediments to do her job.

“For a long time, the NHL let teams set policy for locker room access,” Elliott said. “There was no blanket edict from the league. That created a lot of problems. There were so few female sportswriters that we used to give each other tips. We would say such and such team is friendly, or say this team is going to be really tough, or avoid so and so or so and so will be really helpful.”

Duhatschek, a PHWA vice president for a decade, said Morrison did a lot of “the heavy lifting” formalizing access rules, including how female journalists were going to be treated in the NHL.

According to Duhatschek, NHL PR executive Gary Meagher was a PHWA ally in trying to firm up access policy.

“Those two worked together to do a lot of good in terms of developing policy and putting in firm rules,” Duhatschek recalled.

Their work was much needed. “People like Harold Ballard and Phil Esposito were not very welcoming to women,” Duhatschek said.

Duhatschek said the situation improved dramatically when Gary Bettman became the first NHL commissioner. “The foot dragging on policy stopped,” Duhatschek said. “Back then, he was very helpful to the Professional Hockey Writers Association.”

Elliott has an important place in PHWA history, because she is the only woman ever to serve as the organization’s president and the only woman to be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Elmer Ferguson Award.

She was president when PHWA members voted to stop accepting a $10,000 fee from the NHL for voting on NHL Awards. The money was partially used to fund a scholarship. The Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) had been pushing the PHWA to stop taking the stipend.

“I thought it was the right thing to do to stop taking the money, but it got really, really ugly,” Elliott recalled.

Not every member agreed with that decision. “It was hard,” she said. “A lot of us were told by our employers that we could not continue to be members if the (PHWA) continued to take money from the league.”

Even beyond the money, voting has long been a contentious issue. Some news outlets do not allow their sportswriters to vote because they see it as a conflict of interest. Some writers believe we shouldn’t vote because trophy race finishes can impact player bonus money. Some team executives believe writers shouldn’t vote on the awards because they didn’t play the game.

The voting procedure changed dramatically in 2003-04 when the PHWA expanded the pool of eligible voters.

Prior to then, each NHL city only had two votes. Writers would split votes. Some writers would vote only for the Hart Trophy or Norris Trophy. Another writer would vote on All-Star teams. Some highly qualified voters received no votes at all.

The problem with that process was that too few people were determining winners. If people forgot to vote, 60 votes would drop to 58 or 57. If someone left an obvious choice off his or her ballot, it could have a significant impact on the outcome.

It also meant some highly qualified voters – national coverage reporters – received no votes at all.

Plus, it was possible, under this system, that a center could win the Hart Trophy and not be named 1st team All-Star center because different groups were voting on those two honors.

Team officials preferred the old system because it had geographic balance. Every city received two votes. It seemed fair to old school executives.

But the PHWA approached the NHL about accepting that a qualified voter is a qualified voter regardless of where they live. The PHWA group argued that increasing the number of voters diminished the impact of outliers.

In days gone by, it made sense to limit the number of voters. You didn’t receive much information about what was happening in other NHL cities. In today’s technology world, a New York sportswriter knows as much about Los Angeles, Arizona and Vancouver as he or she knows about their old team.

Today, the PHWA has almost three times as many voters as it had in 2002-03. The results have shown that this voting system, with a larger sampling of quality voters, works effectively.

Not all of the PHWA history is as serious as voting issues and bold protests. Not every issue needs to be debated with passionate rhetoric. Duhatschek tells the story of how an off-hand suggestion by a part-time writer led to a change in NHL Awards.

In the early 1980s, Jack Newman was the Sports Information Director of the University of Calgary. He also worked as a stringer at Calgary Flames’ games for the Canadian Press. That earned him the right to join the Calgary chapter of the PHWA.

“He said to us, ‘Why don’t we have an All-Rookie team?'” Duhatschek said. “He said baseball had one.”

Duhatschek told Newman he didn’t know the answer, but he would take the suggestion to the national meeting.

“I told our secretary-treasurer Don Wilno and he said: We never thought about it, but it’s a great idea,” Duhatschek said.

The NHL All-Rookie team was introduced the following season, in 1982-83. Newman was in the PHWA for a short time. But he had a lasting impact.