Monday, January 12, 2009

Three Consecutive MVP Awards

Another cool fact about Johnny Bower is the fact that he is one of only four men in professional hockey history to have won their league MVP award in three consecutive years. Two of the other three, you may have heard of, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. The fourth gentleman you may not have heard of, Paul Polillo (pictured above) in the old Colonial Hockey League.

Other men have come close to three consecutive MVP's, only to fall short. Guyle Fielder of the old Western League actually won four MVP's in a row, but these were not true league-wide awards. There were two awards given out in three of those seasons, one for the Coastal Division and one for the Prairie Division. On top of that, each division had only four teams from which to choose an MVP.
Eddie Shore won three MVPs in four years in the early '30s. Gordie Howe won three of four in the late '50s. Len Thornson won three in four years and four in six from 1959-1964 with the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL.

Johnny Bower would win three in a row with the AHL's Providence Reds and Cleveland Barons from 1955-56 through 57-58. Over these three years he had a record of 112-56 with a 2.45 GAA and would finally in 1958-59 become a permanent NHLer with the Leafs.
Orr of course won three straight from 69-70 to 71-72. Gretzky won eight in a row and nine of ten in the '80s.

That brings us to Paul Polillo of the Colonial League's Brantford Smoke. He won three consecutive MVPs starting in 1994-95 tallying 146,186 and 173 points. He had played four years at Western Michigan University and was drafted by the Penguins as the fourth pick in the 1988 supplemental draft of collegiate players. The highest level he would play was one game in 1994-95 with the Denver Grizzlies of the IHL.

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