Isles Buzz

Islanders Award Winners: Billy Smith and Roland Melanson, Jennings Trophy, 1983



Before 1982, the Vezina Trophy was a team award, going to the NHL goaltending tandem that gave up the least goals against during the season. When the criteria was changed to voting by the league’s general managers, the first winner was 31-year-old Billy Smith, who finally reached the pinnacle of his career after a decade in the league. A year later, Smith and his creasemate, 22-year-old Rollie “The Goalie” Melanson, turned in a masterful duet, consistently bailing the three-time champs out of trouble during a tumultuous season to take home the Islanders’ first Jennings Trophy. Regardless of who was hot and who was cold, Smith and Melanson each gave the Islanders a goalie they could rely on. While the defending Stanley Cup champs battled fatigue, injuries, complacency, and challenges from all comers, the two goalies emerged as the team’s true strength. And when it became clear they had a shot to reward their goalies with the Jennings late in the season, the trophy gave their teammates the motivation they neede