Adam Fox became a star for the Rangers in 2021, perhaps sooner than anyone had a right to expect.
The 23-year-old defenseman from Jericho, by way of Harvard, was named Tuesday night as the Norris Trophy winner, emblematic of the best defenseman in the NHL, in only his second season of professional hockey. He amassed 40 first-place votes and a total of 743 points in the voting, 88 more than runner-up Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman finished third.
Fox was announced as the winner on NBC Sports Network by Rangers great and Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, a two-time Norris Trophy winner himself. Fox becomes the second player to win the award in his second year — the first being Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr — and the fourth Ranger to win it, joining Leetch (who won in 1992 and 1997), Harry Howell (1967) and Doug Harvey (1962).
"It's special,’’ Fox said on a Zoom call with the media, when asked about being in the company of all-time greats like Leetch and Orr. "I've been throwing that word around a lot the past few weeks, and I just think it's accurate for how I feel. I mean those are two of the greatest defenseman ever, and to hear your name with those guys, it's always gonna be a special thing to hear.’’
Fox won the Norris one year after he finished fourth in the voting for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. That award went to Makar. Fox was the first Rangers player to be a Norris Trophy finalist since Leetch won the award for the second time.
Fox was second in the league in scoring among defensemen with 47 points (five goals and 42 assists) in 55 games, finishing one point behind Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie. Fox led all defensemen in assists, and he led the Rangers in ice time, running the point on the first power play and also playing on the penalty kill as well as matching up against the opposition’s top lines at five-on-five.
Rangers rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team. Miller, 21, a first-round pick in 2018, played in 53 games and led all rookie defensemen in goals with five (5-7-12) and joined Devils defenseman Ty Smith, Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and forwards Josh Norris of the Ottawa Senators, Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars and Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild.