After the NHL playoffs ended this past June, history was made as Adam Fox was awarded with the Norris Trophy, naming him the defenseman of the year, and becoming the first Jewish hockey player to ever win an award.
With the 2021-22 season just underway, Adam Fox has already begun the season on a high. In just nine games, he is a plus 5, has two goals, seven assists, and nine points, and is averaging over 24 minutes of on ice time. He has 98 career points, with the 100 point milestone just around the corner.
Fox grew up in Jericho, New York, on the North shore of Long Island. He garnered attention as he played for the Harvard Crimson in college before being the Calgary Flames’ 66th pick in the 2016 draft. In a later trade he was sent to Carolina, becoming one of their top prospects. However, in 2019 the Hurricanes traded away their rights to Fox to the New York Rangers in exchange for a second round pick in the 2019 draft. In a rebuilding year for the Rangers, they brought him up in 2020 and were blown away by his talent. Fans called him a “godsend” as the rest of the Rangers defensive core was weak. He was given more ice time, and greater responsibilities on the team. He started in a third defensive pairing role and by the abrupt end of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he was the teams’ top right handed defenseman, playing alongside Ryan Lindgren. Some believe that had the pandemic not happened, Fox would have won the 2020 Calder trophy, naming him rookie of the year. He ended his first season in the NHL with eight goals and 42 points in a condensed 70 game season.
Adam Fox brings a calm focus to the ice, an attitude he said he acquired playing in college while studying psychology. Fox is praised for his high hockey IQ, and for his strong ability to read and develop plays. He is utilized on the penalty kill, produces offensively, and is an overall reliable defenseman. Last season he played fewer games, 55, and yet had a total of 47 points, a career high. Although the Rangers did not make the playoffs in 2021, he made history by winning the Norris Trophy, and being the first Jew to win an award.
In addition to making history, his award is remarkable in that it makes Fox only the second player in history to win the award in their sophomore season; The first being the legendary Bobby Orr in 1967, who then went on to win the award eight more times.
The only other time a Jewish hockey player was close to winning an award, was back in 1952, when rookie Hyman Buller from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was the runner up for the Calder Trophy. That year, Buller produced 35 points, setting a record high for a rookie defenseman. He was also selected to play in the 1951-1952 all- star game, and is to this day the youngest player to ever suit up for the Detroit Red Wings, at age 17. Buller was one of only two Jewish players that were active from 1940 through the fifties.
Hyman Buller may not be known to the average hockey fan, or even average Jewish hockey fan, but he made a significant impact on the game, and was a special player. In the span of 20 years, there were only two Jews that made it to the NHL. Whereas today, there is a plethora of big-name Jewish hockey players that we have the opportunity to follow, Adam Fox just being one of them. “It’s definitely nice to represent a community, for sure,” Fox said of being Jewish.
On Tuesday November 2nd, Adam Fox erased the possibility of becoming a restricted free agent at the end of the season by signing a seven year, $66.5 million dollar extension deal with the New York Rangers, averaging a $9,500,000 annual salary. This is Fox’s last year of his entry level contract, making an average annual salary of $925,000. When asked about his new contract Fox responded, “just joy. I wanted to be a New York Ranger and now that I’m here and here for a long time, it’s a huge honor for me, and I’m just so excited.” This will make Fox the second highest paid player on the Rangers, and the sixth highest paid defenseman in the NHL. Chris Drury, the Rangers General Manager commented on Fox saying “In just over two seasons, Adam has consistently shown why he is a cornerstone for our organization and one of the best players in the NHL.”
Adam Fox has already accomplished so much in his first few rookie seasons, and now will have the opportunity to play and represent Jews for many more years.