The Ted Lindsay Award is presented annually to the “Most Outstanding Player” in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA. It remains the only award voted on by the players themselves, carrying on the tradition established by the Lester B. Pearson Award dating back to the 1970-71 season. The Ted Lindsay Award (TLA) recipient is chosen by his peers as the “most outstanding player” for the regular season, representing the highest level of respect and the ultimate peer review. The Award honours Ted Lindsay, an All-Star forward known for his skill, tenacity, leadership, and for his role in establishing the original Players' Association.
The Ted Lindsay Award is named in honour of former Detroit Red Wings great Ted Lindsay, a member of the Hall of Fame and four-time Stanley Cup Champion. Lindsay’s competitive nature, focus on players’ rights, and pioneering work as president of the original Players’ Association laid the groundwork for the current NHLPA.
The “most outstanding player” award was first introduced as the Lester B. Pearson Award following the 1970-71 National Hockey League (NHL) season. The award was named after the 14th Prime Minister of Canada and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The Lester B. Pearson Award was presented to 22 different players over 38 seasons. Some of the most decorated names in hockey history have been voted “most outstanding player,” including Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur and Alex Ovechkin.
Wayne Gretzky was the most decorated Award recipient during the Pearson era, taking home the honour on five occasions, including four consecutive years. Mario Lemieux captured the Award four times but never in back-to-back seasons. In 1993-94, Sergei Fedorov became the first non-Canadian born player to receive the Award, opening the door for other European players to receive the coveted prize, representing the international flavor of modern hockey.
2008-09 marked the final presentation of the Lester B. Pearson Award, as the Players would choose to honour one of the legends of the game and the Association by re-naming the award after Ted Lindsay. While the name has changed, the history of the Award and its significance for NHLPA members remains as strong as ever.
The inaugural recipient of the Ted Lindsay Award was Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin in 2009-10. After receiving the final two Awards of the Lester B. Pearson Award era, the Russian superstar became the first player since Wayne Gretzky in the 1980s to be named “most outstanding player” in three consecutive seasons.
Matthews played in 73 of Toronto’s 82 regular-season games to help the Maple Leafs place second in the Atlantic Division with a franchise-best 115-point season. He scored 60 goals to win his second consecutive Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy – setting a Maple Leafs’ franchise record as well as a single-season record for the most goals scored by an American-born player. The 24-year-old native of Scottsdale, Arizona, led the league in even-strength goals (44), goals per game (0.82) and shots (348), and he tied for sixth in league scoring (106 points). Matthews placed second in points per game (1.45), tied for third in even-strength points (77) and he finished fifth in game-winning goals (10). He also recorded career-best marks in power-play goals (16) and face-off win percentage (56.22). A TLA finalist for the second season in a row, Matthews is looking to become the first Maple Leafs player and second American-born player (Patrick Kane, 2015-16) to receive the award.