Monday, April 27, 2009

NHL Vezina Nominees

According to
Steve Mason, the brilliant young goalie of the Columbus Blue Jackets, could become only the fifth NHL player to win the Vezina and Calder trophies in the same year.

But he'll have to beat out the Minnesota Wild's Niklas Backstrom, and Tim Thomas, whose league-leading goals-against average was a driving force for the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins this season.

Mason could become only the fifth goalie to win the Calder and Vezina trophies in the same year, joining Ed Belfour, Tom Barrasso, Tony Esposito and Frankie Brimsek.

"I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about it," Mason said of being a Vezina finalist. "When you look back at the players who have done it, just to be nominated for one of these awards is a special honor. I'm just thinking about all the people who helped me along the way, my family, the players this season, the coaching staff and Blue Jackets' management. Without that support, none of this would have been possible.

"I've never been to Las Vegas and I'm excited to go and see what it's all about," Mason said. "I'll be going with my family and my girlfriend and hoping we come away winners, not losers."

The three Vezina Trophy finalists finished 1-2-3 in lowest goals-against average. Thomas allowed a mere 2.10 goals per game, while Mason was next at 2.29 and Backstrom third at 2.33. The goalies will be on hand for the 2009 NHL Awards, which will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on June 18 on VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Ed Belfour, breaking in with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1991, was the last rookie goalie to win the Vezina in the same year he won the Calder Trophy, which rewards the NHL rookie of the year. Buffalo Sabres goalie Tom Barrasso swept the awards in 1984.

Blackhawks goalie Tony Esposito won both awards in 1970 and Frankie Brimsek, "Mr. Zero," won both for the Bruins in 1939.

The Vezina Trophy has been voted on by the NHL's general managers since 1981. Prior to that, it was awarded to the goalie(s) of the team that allowed the fewest goals in a season. The Montreal Canadiens donated the trophy in 1926, the year their former goaltender, Georges Vezina, died of tuberculosis, little more than a year after he collapsed during a game. Vezina had been the Canadiens only goalie from 1910-25 in both the NHL and its predecessor, the National Hockey Association. He won two Stanley Cups and allowed the fewest goals seven times.

Ironically, Vezina's successor, George Hainsworth won the Vezina in its first three seasons. Montreal's Bill Durnan and Philadelphia's Ron Hextall won the Vezina as rookies, but not the Calder.

Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante has won the most Vezina Trophies, seven, while Durnan and Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominic Hasek won six.

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