I'll disagree with this assessment, as, there are trophies for statistical achievements in the NHL (Art Ross, Richard) and one for defensive forwards (Selke) there is still no trophy for best overall forward. The Hart and the Pearson are supposed to fulfill that purpose, but, both awards (the Hart especially) has an increasing level of competition from other positional players, like goalies and defencemen.
Without looking it up, the Hart and Pearson usually go to forwards but you are right, they are open to all positions.
That doesn't change the fact there is a specific defensive trophy for forwards and goaltenders but not for defencemen.
Stevens had plenty of name recognition back then. If anything, Bourque`s previous Norris dominance may have worked against him. When a player is that consistently good, his play can be taken for granted. Voters are often looking to give awards to new faces when they become contenders. For example from `76 to `80 every Norris went to either Potvin or Robinson. In `81 Randy Carlyle led defencemen in points and they gave him the award, ignoring the fact that he was mediocre at best defensively. Potvin was far more deserving that year.
Carlyle and Coffey winning is what caused a backlash on offensive defensemen that may have cost Mark Howe a norris.
Agree on Park, but I also think that Stevens was robbed of the Norris for the 93-94 season. IMO, he was clearly the best d-man in the league that year, scoring nearly a point-per-game on an undergunned offensive team while playing dominating defense and carting away with the +/- lead while facing opponents top players for 30+ mins a night.
Bourque had a good year, but I think the "name" factor is the only reason he took home the prize over Stevens.
And he lead the league with a +53 that season......The guy Never had a minus season in his entire 22 year career...Incredible.
Leetch is SLIGHTLY better defensively than Coffey, but not by much. And I've watched him since college. I've actually never understood why people are so gung-ho about Leetch. He is a smooth, albeit slow, skater who makes good, average passes. But that's about it. I guess he's considered smart because he jumps into the slot when 8 other players are over in the corner, so he is not in much danger of getting burned, but who wouldn't?
I don't think Stevens should have ever won a Norris. He was never in his career THE dominant defensman in the NHL. At times he was the most physical. At times he was pretty good offensively (but so was Al Iafrate!), and at times he was good defensively. But never all at the same time. Bourque was better at all of these things, except for the hitting. But Bourque was too smart to run around getting out of position, just to make a big hit. And make no mistake, Bourque COULD hit like a dump truck when he wanted to. As mentioned earlier, Chelios was a better all-around defenseman during the early 1990's, as was Ray Bourque, and even Rob Blake or Al MacInnis.
And Brad Park was the best defenseman never to win a Norris, although Tim Horton is awfully close.