All signs point towards one of the brightest NHL stars, Alexander Ovechkin winning the Hart Memorial Trophy awarded to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. But the man that the Hart Memorial Trophy was named after died four decades before Alexander Ovechkin was even born. Who was Cecil Hart, the man that the Hart Memorial Trophy was named after?
Unlike the Vezina Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy, which were both named after former hockey players, the Hart Memorial Trophy is named after a head coach by the name of Cecil Hart. Cecil Hart started his hockey career as the manager of an amateur hockey team for the Star Club of Montreal from 1900 – 1992, where he lso managed a baseball team as well.
In 1910 Cecil Hart was the secretary treasurer for the Montreal City Hockey League and also the Eastern Canad Amateur Hockey Association. Cecil Hart was also responsible for an international hockey showdown between the United States and Canada, with the winner winning the Art Ross Cup.
In 1921 Cecil Hart would head towards the professional leagues. At the time the Montreal team was called the Maroons and Hart started as the team’s manager. There was an argument over signing one certain player so Cecil resigned before getting through one season. Cecil Hart later returned to the Montreal team, now called the Canadiens, and became the head coach in 1925 – 1926.
With Cecil Hart as their coach the Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t miss the playoffs a single season. Cecil Hart only led the Canadiens to two Stanley Cup titles, but it was the first back-to-back titles in the club’s history and it was the beginning of the Canadiens great success. The Montreal Canadiens became one of the most dominant franchises in all of sports, not just hockey. Hart was also considered to be one of the most innovative hockey coaches of all-time.
Originally the Hart Trophy was a trophy that Cecil Hart’s father, David Hart, donted to the NHL in 1923. In 1960 the original Hart Trophy was retired and it was replaced by a new Hart Trophy, named after Cecil Hart. The original Hart Trophy was first awarded to Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators after the 1923-24 season. The second Hart Trophy was first awarded after the 1960-61 season to the Montreal Canadiens’ Bernie Geoffrion.
Wayne Gretzky has won the Hart Memorial Trophy a record nine times and won eight of them in consecutive years from 1979 to 1987. Wayne Gretzky’s nine MVP awards is the most in any sport. Wayne Gretzky won the first eight with the Edmonton Oilers and then won his ninth with the Los Angeles Kings. Mark Messier is the only other player to win the Hart Memorial Trophy for two different teams.
A player from the Montreal Canadiens has won the Hart Memorial Trophy more times than any other club, sixteen. Two years ago Joe Thornton became the first player to win the Hart Memorial Trophy in a season in which he switched teams. Last season the Hart Memorial Trophy was awarded to Sidney Crosby and this year the likely winner will be Alexander Ovechkin.