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Callan Sheridan | NCAA.com | September 23, 2019

Hobey Baker Award: History, winners, selection process

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Known as the most prestigious award in college hockey, the Hobey Baker Memorial award annually recognizes the top NCAA DI men’s ice hockey player in the country. Hockey skills and stats aren’t the only criteria, because the Hobey is awarded to the play that most embodies a variety of qualities, including sportsmanship and character. 

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Let's take a dive into the history and selection process for the award, along with a history of the winners. 

Hobey Baker Award history

You can read all about the history of the Hobey Baker Award on the official site here, which tells the entire story of the creation of the award. Here are some of the key facts in the history of the Hobey Baker Award:

  • The creation of the Hobey Baker Award was spearheaded by Charles R. Bard, who was the CEO of the Decathlon Athletic Club of Bloomington, Minnesota, and was officially founded in 1981, years after Hobey's death. 
  • The award was inspired by college's basketball's Wooden Award (which was in turn modeled after the college football's Heisman Award).

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  • Four hockey players were considered as namesake's of the award. Bard considered Frankie Brimsek, Moose-Goheen and John Mariucci, but it was Hobart Amory Baker who intrigued Bard the most.
  • The first Hobey Baker Award was presented to Minnesota’s Neal Broten on March 20, 1981
  • In 1991, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation was established as the non-profit corporation tasked with presenting the award, and still operates the process today.

Who was Hobey Baker?

Hobey Baker wasn't alive to create this award in his own honor, so it's clear that his credentials and personal history had to be exceptional to stand out from all the other greats of hockey history. You can find out everything you need to know about Hobey Baker on the official site here, which has a comprehensive bio on the man whose name would become known to college hockey fans everywhere. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Hobey Baker’s hockey career began at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. The school was allegedly one of the first to introduce ice hockey to the country, just eight years before Hobey’s arrival.
  • Hobey continued his career at Princeton University, where he led his team to a 27-7 record and three Intercollegiate League championships. He averaged four goals per game and was penalized only twice in his college career.
  • He once played every second of a 73-minute game against Harvard while other players continued to substitute.

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  • Throughout his college and amateur hockey career, Hobey was knows for visiting the opposing team's locker room after each game to shake hands
  • During WWI, Hobey wwas commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army. As a member of the Lafayette Escadrille, he was with the first group of American pilots sent to France. Baker was credited with bringing down three enemy planes and awarded the Croix de Guerre. 
  • After the end of the war but before returning home from France, Hobey went up for one last joy-ride before his engine quit and the plane crashed. Baker died in the ambulance later, at age 26.

The Trophy

The Hobey Baker trophy is 16 inches high and made of 40 pounds of bronze and etched acrylic. The original trophy was presented at the first Hobey Baker Memorial Award banquet in 1981. Each year, the Foundation creates two trophies — one for the Hobey Baker Award winner and another trophy for the winner’s college. The original Hobey Baker trophy is on display at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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The trophy was designed by sculptor Bill Mack, a Minnesota native. To design the trophy, Mack first had to search for a model, and he eventually landed on hockey player Steve Christoff. Christoff was a standout for the University of Minnesota, and later played for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and in the NHL. 

More than 50 poses were analyzed before the final pose of a player stopping quickly was decided upon. Christoff was photographed in that pose from a variety of angles, and those photos were broken down to create a charcoal drawing. From that drawing Mack created a stick figure, covered it in clay and plaster-baked the design in an oven. From this, the finished bronze statue has remained the same and recognized around the nation.

Getty Images The Hobey Baker Trophy for college hockey.

Selection

According to the Hobey Baker Memorial Award website, there are four criteria used to consider Hobey Baker Memorial Award nominees:

  1. Strength of character, on and off the ice
  2. Contribution to the integrity of the team and outstanding skills in all phases of the game
  3. Scholastic achievement and sportsmanship
  4. Compliance with all NCAA rules, including being a full-time student in an accredited college or university and completing 50 percent or more of the season

There are three steps involved in the award’s selection process. First, the head coaches of NCAA DI ice hockey schools nominate the top three players in their respective leagues and the top three players in the nation. College hockey fans can also participate by voting online during this step. Price Waterhouse Coopers accounting firm counts these votes and the top 10 finalists are announced.

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Next, voting begins for the “Hobey Hat Trick,” which narrows the award field from ten finalists to three. The winner is then selected from this trio of players. The voting in this step of the process is by the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Selection Committee. The committee is “a geographically balanced group of 29 individuals representing print and electronic sports media, college hockey coaches and officials, and NHL scouts.” There is also a round of fan voting in this step of the process.

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner is announced in a nationally televised ceremony. 

Hobey Baker Award recipients

To date, there have been 39 Hobey Baker Memorial Award recipients. Twenty-nine forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies have won the award. Age and experience can be a factor, as 25 college seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores and just two freshmen have been honored the award. 

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Mark and Scott Fusco are the only brothers to both have been named the Hobey Baker award winner, both of Harvard University in 1983 and 1986, respectively. Minnesota-Duluth has the strongest showing of any NCAA institution, boasting five award-recipients in its 39-year history. Harvard follows closely with four Hobey winners, and Boston College and Boston University with three. 

Getty Images Hobey Baker Award.

See below for a full history of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award:
 

Year Winner position class school
2019 Cale Makar D So. UMass
2018 Adam Gaudette F Jr. Northeastern
2017 Will Butcher* D Sr. Denver
2016 Jimmy Vesey F Sr. Harvard
2015 Jack Eichel F Fr. Boston U.
2014 Johnny Gaudreau F Jr. Boston College
2013 Drew LeBlanc F Sr. St. Cloud State
2012 Jack Connolly F Sr.  Minnesota-Duluth
2011 Andy Miele F Sr. Miami
2010 Blake Geoffrian F Sr. Wisconsin
2009 Matt Gilroy* D Sr. Boston U.
2008 Kevin Porter F Sr. Michigan
2007 Ryan Duncan F So. North Dakota
2006 Matt Carle D Jr. Denver
2005 Marty Sertich F Jr. Colorado College
2004 Junior Lessard F Sr. Minnesota-Duluth
2003 Peter Sejna F Jr. Colorado College
2002 Jordan Leopold* D Sr.  Minnesota
2001 Ryan Miller G So. Michigan State
2000 Mike Mottau D Sr.  Boston College
1999 Jason Krog F Sr. New Hampshire
1998 Chris Drury F Sr. Boston U.
1997 Brendan Morrison F Sr. Michigan
1996 Brian Bonin F Sr. Minnesota
1995 Brian Holzinger F Sr. Bowling Green
1994 Chris Marinucci F Sr. Minnesota-Duluth
1993 Paul Kariya* F Fr. Maine
1992 Scott Pellerin F Sr. Maine
1991 David Emma F Sr. Boston College
1990 Kip Miller F Sr. Michigan State
1989 Lane MacDonald* F Sr. Harvard
1988 Robb Stauber G So. Minnesota
1987 Tony Hrkac F Jr. North Dakota
1986 Scott Fusco F Sr. Harvard
1985 Bill Watson F Jr. Minnesota-Duluth
1984 Tom Kurvers D Sr. Minnesota-Duluth
1983 Mark Fusco D Sr. Harvard
1982 George McPhee F Sr. Bowling Green
1981 Neal Broten F Jr. Minnesota

*won National Championship that year

Colleges with the most Hobey Baker Award winners

School number of Award winners
Minnesota Duluth 5
Harvard 4
Minnesota 4
Boston College  3
Boston University 3
Bowling Green, Maine, Denver, Michigan, Michigan St., North Dakota, Colorado College  2

Information sourced from HobeyBaker.com.

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