What is the Norris Trophy?

Photo: NHL

The Norris Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s best defenseman. It is named after James Norris, a former owner of the Detroit Red Wings, and has been a fixture of the NHL awards ceremony since 1954.

The origins of the Norris Trophy can be traced back to the mid-1950s when the NHL’s governors decided to recognize the league’s top defenseman. Prior to the establishment of the Norris Trophy, the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player, was often given to a forward rather than a defenseman.

The first recipient of the Norris Trophy was Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings. Kelly was a two-way defenseman who could contribute offensively as well as defensively. He won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings during his career and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.

Over the years, the Norris Trophy has been awarded to some of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. Names like Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, Ray Bourque, and Nicklas Lidstrom are all synonymous with the Norris Trophy. Orr won the award a record eight times, including seven consecutive wins from 1968 to 1975. Bourque won the award five times, and Lidstrom won it seven times, tying him with Harvey for the second-most wins all-time.

The criteria for the Norris Trophy has changed over the years. Originally, the award was given to the defenseman who showed the most skill and ability in all aspects of the game. In the 1980s, the criteria shifted to reward defensemen who were more offensive-minded. This led to some criticism of the award, as some argued that it became too focused on offensive statistics and did not properly recognize the contributions of more defensive-minded defensemen.

In recent years, the criteria for the Norris Trophy have shifted once again, with a greater emphasis placed on all-around defensive play. This has led to a more diverse group of winners, with players like Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns winning the award despite not being traditional shut-down defensemen.

The Norris Trophy remains one of the most prestigious awards in the NHL, and winning it is a significant achievement for any defenseman. The list of Norris Trophy winners reads like a who’s who of NHL history, and it will continue to be an important part of the league’s awards ceremony for years to come.

  • 1954 – Red Kelly (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 1955 – Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1956 – Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1957 – Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1958 – Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1959 – Tom Johnson (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1960 – Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1961 – Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1962 – Doug Harvey (New York Rangers)
  • 1963 – Pierre Pilote (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1964 – Pierre Pilote (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1965 – Pierre Pilote (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1966 – Jacques Laperriere (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1967 – Harry Howell (New York Rangers)
  • 1968 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1969 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1970 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1971 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1972 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1973 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1974 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1975 – Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)
  • 1976 – Denis Potvin (New York Islanders)
  • 1977 – Larry Robinson (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1978 – Denis Potvin (New York Islanders)
  • 1979 – Denis Potvin (New York Islanders)
  • 1980 – Larry Robinson (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1981 – Randy Carlyle (Pittsburgh Penguins)
  • 1982 – Doug Wilson (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1983 – Rod Langway (Washington Capitals)
  • 1984 – Rod Langway (Washington Capitals)
  • 1985 – Paul Coffey (Edmonton Oilers)
  • 1986 – Paul Coffey (Edmonton Oilers)
  • 1987 – Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins)
  • 1988 – Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins)
  • 1989 – Chris Chelios (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 1990 – Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins)
  • 1991 – Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins)
  • 1992 – Brian Leetch (New York Rangers)
  • 1993 – Chris Chelios (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1994 – Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins)
  • 1995 – Paul Coffey (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 1996 – Chris Chelios (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1997 – Brian Leetch (New York Rangers)
  • 1998 – Rob Blake (Los Angeles Kings)
  • 1999 – Al MacInnis (St. Louis Blues)
  • 2000 – Chris Pronger (St. Louis Blues)
  • 2001 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2002 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2003 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2004 – Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey Devils)
  • 2005 – No winner due to NHL lockout
  • 2006 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2007 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2008 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2009 – Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins)
  • 2010 – Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 2011 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
  • 2012 – Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators)
  • 2013 – P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens)
  • 2014 – Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 2015 – Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators)
  • 2016 – Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings)
  • 2017 – Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks)
  • 2018 – Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • 2019 – Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames)
  • 2020 – Roman Josi (Nashville Predators)
  • 2021 – Adam Fox (New York Rangers)
  • 2022 – Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Connor Green

Managing Editor | Inside the Rink

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