In case you haven’t heard, Artemiy Panarin was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay award earlier this week. The Ted Lindsay award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson award, is awarded to the “most outstanding player” in the NHL as voted by the NHL Players Association. Essentially it is the player’s choice for MVP, and throughout history the NHLPA has gone with a player who ultimately didn’t win the Hart Trophy voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Panarin’s first campaign in New York saw the Russian winger put up 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points in just 69 games, a season more than worthy of such a nomination. His competition for the award are Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Leon Draisaitl from the Edmonton Oilers, and while this is Panarin’s first nomination for the Lindsay award, he wouldn’t be the first Ranger to win it. With that in mind, let’s check out the past winners of the Lester B. Pearson/Ted Lindsay Award that shined on Broadway.
1972: Jean Ratelle (46-63-109 in 63 games played)
The center of the fabled GAG-line of the late 60s and early 70s New York Rangers, Jean Ratelle put up a master class 109 point season that was good for third-best that season, behind only Bobby Orr’s 117 points and Phil Esposito’s 133 point season. Ratelle led the league in points throughout the 1971-72 season until he broke his ankle with about a month left in season, allowing the the two Bruins to catch up and overtake Ratelle’s lead. Ratelle’s skill up the middle helped line mates Vic Hadfeld (107) and Rod Gilbert (97) finish 4th and 5th respectfully in league scoring. That ‘71-’72 campaign not only saw Ratelle awarded the 2nd ever Lester B. Pearson award but also stood up for 34 years as the high watermark for points in a season on Broadway.
1992: Mark Messier (35-72-107 in 79 games)
An elite free agent winds up in New York in his prime, and in his first season lights up Broadway in a way that hadn’t been seen in a long time. Sound familiar, doesn’t it? After 12 years in Edmonton, Mark Messier was dealt to New York and was immediately heralded as the savior, with the Rangers in the middle of 50+ year Stanley Cup drought. We’ve all seen renowned players come to New York and not live up to perceived hype, but Messier more than delivered during his historic inaugural season on Broadway. Finishing the season with a 107 point campaign, he came just shy of tying Jean Ratelle’s 109 point mark and still sits at 3rd all-time. That season not only revitalized hockey in New York, it also earned Messier his 2nd Lester B. Pearson award becoming just the 2nd player to win the award with two different teams, as he won the 1987 award with the Edmonton Oilers. The other player to accomplish the feat happens to be a fellow Ranger legend. On top of his 2nd Pearson, this ‘91-’92 season earned Messier the Hart Memorial Trophy, just one of 14 players to win both the Pearson and Hart trophies.
2006: Jaromir Jagr (54-69-123 in 82 games)
Arguably the greatest single season in New York Rangers history, Jaromir Jagr’s 2005-06 campaign was simply superb and revitalized a Rangers team that was sitting in the dregs of obscurity through the early 2000s. After the 2nd lockout killed the 2004-05 season, new rules were implemented to open up the offense and referees decided to start calling penalties for once which led to a brief explosion of offense a fun, chaotic season. Jagr was 33 at the time and there were some questions on whether his time as a superstar was over before the 05-06 season. Then, paired with pivot Michael Nylander and fellow Czech winger Martin Straka, Jagr set the league on fire shattering the franchise’s record for points in a season with 123 points. This campaign earned Jagr his 3rd Pearson award, joining Mark Messier as the 2nd player to win the award with two different teams as the Kladno native won the award in back to back season with the Penguins in 1999 and 2000.
Should Artemiy Panarin win the Ted Lindsay award this season, he’ll be the first Ranger to do so without cracking the 100 point threshold, though had the season not been cut short it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t reach that plateau. He’d also be the first Russian to win the award for the Blueshirts and the 2nd to win it in his debut season for the team.