Welcome back to our series of NHL Trophies and the history behind the names the trophies carry!
Last week I took a break from my series to pay tribute to the late, great Ted Lindsay by looking back at his attempt to set up the first NHL Players Association. I know there were a lot of attempts to chronicle his life in a few paragraphs by various media outlets, but I wanted to do something different. The NHLPA was one of Ted’s greatest achievements, in a long list of achievements.
Before that we had kicked off the series with the Ted Lindsay Award, followed by history of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and the lesser-known history of William M. Jennings and his memorial trophy the week before the Lindsay tribute paused out series.
Now on to today’s subject, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and the Lady herself.
Who was Lady Byng?
Marie Evelyn Moreton was born on January 11, 1870 in London, England. Evelyn, as her family would refer to her (does anyone else think it’s dumb to give your child a first name and then choose to ignore it pretty much immediately after it’s given?), was the only child of Sir Richard Charles Reynolds-Moreton – who was the assistant marshal of ceremonies to Queen Victoria.
At the age of eight, Evelyn travelled with her family to Canada, where her father became the comptroller at Rideau Hall – the home of the Governor General of Canada (for the curious non-Canadians, the Governor General is essentially a representative of the British Monarchy in Canada who performs ceremonial tasks).
After a year, the Moreton family returned home to Britain. Evelyn was homeschooled during this time and would eventually travel the world, including a world cruise with her namesake, Aunt Evelyn, in 1887. While not travelling she would help train horses at her father’s country house.
10 years after her cruise ’round the world, Evelyn met the Honourable Julian Byng at a dinner part in 1897. It was love at first sight.
The whole Anglo-Boer War in South Africa meant they had to delay their marriage whilst Julian was away at war. In 1902 they were married and Evelyn followed her husband on his next posts in Indian and Egypt.
Evelyn and Julian were separated for most of the First World War during the period of 1915-1917. Evelyn contributed to the war effort by converting their home into a 30-bed hospital for wounded soldiers in 1914. The couple became Lord and Lady Byng of Vimy in 1919, when Byng was honoured for his leadership at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. They were known as Viscount and Viscountess Byng of Vimy from 1928.
After the war, Viscount Byng was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1921. Due to her previous experience in Canada, Lady Byng was quite pleased with his appointment and their relocation. During this time, she took in her first hockey game and became a fan of the sport – except for the violence on and off the ice.
“[W]oe betide any member of the staff who tried to make engagements for a Saturday night during the hockey season, when I regularly went to ‘root’ for the ‘Senators,’ with such fine players on the team as [Eddie] Gerard, [Frank] Nighbour [sic], the Bouchers [brothers Georges “Buck” and Frank], [King] Clancy and [Cy] Denneny, to name but a few in those long-past days, who gave me many happy evenings during our five years at Rideau Hall. The only blemish to that sport was the childish mentality among a section of the crowd which would vent its annoyance, on umpires or players, by showering the rink with rubbish, stopping the game and also — when coins were thrown — endangering players.”
This love of the sport and hatred of the violence inspired Lady Byng to create a trophy for the most gentlemanly player of the game in 1925. She invited Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators to Rideau Hall to discuss the trophy and to see if he thought the NHL might accept the award into the league. Nighbor said the NHL would accept it and award it to the player she described. Lady Byng then awarded Nighbor with the first Lady Byng Trophy, and later officially handed out to Nighbor by the NHL at the end of the season.
Lady Byng would move back to England after Lord Byng’s five year term as Governor General ended in 1926, Lady Byng incorporated Canadian materials into the renovation of their Essex estate, Thorpe Hall, and planted Canadian maples, poplars, cedars and firs in the gardens. Lord Byng would die in 1935 at Thorpe Hall due to an abdominal blockage.
Lady byng would return to Canada one last time during the Second World War. She would return to Britain in 1945 and die in Essex on June 20, 1949.
What is the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy?
As usual, why steal the thunder from the NHL (or prolong this article anymore) when I can let the NHL sum it up? The NHL says on its website:
“The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season; each voter ranks his top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is presented at the NHL Awards after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
Some fun facts about the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy include that there have been three iterations of the trophy. The first one was awarded up until 1934-35 when Lady Byng gave the original trophy to Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers after he won it in seven out of the previous eight season. Lady Byng donated the second version of the trophy in 1935-36 which was award until her death. The NHL then created the third trophy, the current Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1949.
Unfortunately the original trophy was destroyed in a fire in Boucher’s home in 1962.
Another fun fact, only one defenceman, Brian Campbell in 2012, has won the award since Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings won the award three out of four years from 1950-1954. Along with Bill Quackenbush (1949) they are the only three defencemen to win the Byng. Kelly also won the award as a forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1961.
No goalie has ever won the Byng.
Past Winners of the Award:
- 2018: William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights
- 2017: Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
- 2016: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
- 2015: Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames
- 2014: Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche
- 2013: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
- 2012: Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers
- 2011: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
- 2010: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
- 2009: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
- 2008: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
- 2007: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
- 2006: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
- 2004: Brad Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning
- 2003: Alexander Mogilny, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 2002: Ron Francis, Carolina Hurricanes
- 2001: Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche
- 2000: Pavol Demitra, St. Louis Blues
- 1999: Wayne Gretzky, New York Rangers
- 1998: Ron Francis, Pittsburgh Penguins
- 1997: Paul Kariya, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
- 1996: Paul Kariya, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
- 1995: Ron Francis, Pittsburgh Penguins
- 1994: Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings
- 1993: Pierre Turgeon, New York Islanders
- 1992: Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings
- 1991: Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings
- 1990: Brett Hull, St. Louis Blues
- 1989: Joe Mullen, Calgary Flames
- 1988: Mats Naslund, Montreal Canadiens
- 1987: Joe Mullen, Calgary Flames
- 1986: Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
- 1985: Jari Kurri, Edmonton Oilers
- 1984: Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
- 1983: Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
- 1982: Rick Middleton, Boston Bruins
- 1981: Rick Kehoe, Pittsburgh Penguins
- 1980: Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
- 1979: Bob MacMillan, Atlanta Flames
- 1978: Butch Goring, Los Angeles Kings
- 1977: Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings
- 1976: Jean Ratelle, Boston Bruins
- 1975: Marcel Dionne, Detroit Red Wings
- 1974: Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins
- 1973: Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
- 1972: Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers
- 1971: Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins
- 1970: Phil Goyette, St. Louis Blues
- 1969: Alex Delvecchio, Detroit Red Wings
- 1968: Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1967: Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1966: Alex Delvecchio, Detroit Red Wings
- 1965: Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1964: Kenny Wharram, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1963: Dave Keon, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1962: Dave Keon, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1961: Red Kelly, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1960: Don McKenney, Boston Bruins
- 1959: Alex Delvecchio, Detroit Red Wings
- 1958: Camille Henry, New York Rangers
- 1957: Andy Hebenton, New York Rangers
- 1956: Earl Reibel, Detroit Red Wings
- 1955: Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1954: Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
- 1953: Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
- 1952: Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1951: Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
- 1950: Edgar Laprade, New York Rangers
- 1949: Bill Quackenbush, Detroit Red Wings
- 1948: Buddy O’Connor, New York Rangers
- 1947: Bobby Bauer, Boston Bruins
- 1946: Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens
- 1945: Bill Mosienko, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1944: Clint Smith, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1943: Max Bentley, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1942: Syl Apps, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1941: Bobby Bauer, Boston Bruins
- 1940: Bobby Bauer, Boston Bruins
- 1939: Clint Smith, New York Rangers
- 1938: Gordie Drillon, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1937: Marty Barry, Detroit Red Wings
- 1936: Doc Romnes, Chicago Black Hawks
- 1935: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1934: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1933: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1932: Joe Primeau, Toronto Maple Leafs
- 1931: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1930: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1929: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1928: Frank Boucher, New York Rangers
- 1927: Billy Burch, New York Americans
- 1926: Frank Nighbor, Ottawa Senators
- 1925: Frank Nighbor, Ottawa Senators