March 13, 2021

New York Rangers Flashback: A look at the Blueshirts Norris Trophy winners

Leetch (AP)

If I had to place a wager as to which current New York Rangers defenseman is likeliest to win the Norris Trophy it would be Adam Fox. The award goes to the NHL’s top defenseman and he is showing flashes on both sides of the puck for being worthy.

The Jericho, Long Island native, has been nothing short of sensational since turning pro and making his Rangers debut in 2019. Surely and admittedly, #23 has a ways to go before entering the conversation dominated by the likes of Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty and John Carlson.

If Fox is some day is able to capture the trophy named after the the longtime owner of the Detroit Red Wings, James E. Norris, He would be the fourth Blueshirt to do so. In today’s piece, we will look back at the previous three Norris Trophy Award winners.

Brian Leetch 1991-92 & 1996-97

brian leetch
Dec 2, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Brian Leetch walks out during the jersey retirement for Vic Hadfieldat Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports Brian Leetch

Has there ever been a better Ranger who played the bulk of his career on the corner of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street than Brian Leetch? When it comes to capturing individual awards, Leetch certainly has an impressive display on his mantlepiece. Along with being a Stanley Cup Champion and Team USA World Cup winner, Leetch won the Calder for Rookie of the Year. He also captured the Conn Smythe as the Playoff MVP in 1994, and twice won the Norris Trophy becoming the only Blueshirt to win it multiple times.

Leetch’s unparalleled combination of talent, skill, hockey IQ, work ethic and toughness were ubiquitous during his 17 year New York Rangers career. His #2 proudly hangs from the iconic Garden ceiling and will remain there all of eternity.

Harry Howell 1966-67

Ask your parents and grand parents about Howell’s wonderful, but tumultuous career playing for the Rangers. Unfortunately and undeservingly, Howell was nothing short of a warrior but became the target for the frustrated Garden Faithful as the franchise meandered their way through the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Stanley Cups were a pipe dream and when you have a 1 in 6 chance to win your sport’s top prize and you’re not even in the same zip code of the contenders, who can blame the exacerbated fan base for turning on their beloved hockey team.

Howell should not have been singled out as the scapegoat. That’s why his Norris Trophy winning season of 1966-67 is so special. Howell had his #3 jersey retired to the Garden rafters in February of 2009 along with his former teammate Andy Bathgate in a dual ceremony that was decades overdue.

Doug Harvey 1961-62

Doug Harvey was the epitome of true NHL royalty in the Original 6 days. The supremely talented blueliner was an absolute legend playing for his hometown Montreal Canadiens from 1947 through 1961. Harvey was a six time recipient of the Norris Trophy before taking his immense talents to Broadway where he captured his lucky seventh award in 1962. Harvey, a player-coach for the Rangers in the 61-62 season, played two additional seasons in Gotham registering 71 total points in 151 contests

As the Rangers amass young and talented defenseman like the aforementioned Fox, they also have K’Andre Miller scratching the surface of greatness and Nils Lundkvist yet to make his debut. Rangerstown would love to see the list of Norris Trophy winning Blueshirts elongate in the coming years. As for now, Harvey, Howell and Leetch will remain as the only New York Rangers to have the honor of being voted as the National Hockey League’s best defenseman.

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