Jump to content

The Talents Behind the Trophies: the Aidan Shaw Trophy


Recommended Posts


@Motzaburger is a fine artist, a wise man, and a gentle lover. 


Hello and welcome to a surprise edition of The Talents Behind the Trophies! In this series, we delve deep into the history of the Victory Hockey League to learn more about the players that the various awards of the VHL and VHLM (and one day, the VHLE) are named after. Many times, people covet a trophy, yet they don't know the story behind the player the award is named for. Personally, I feel that the stories of these players should be told. You see, these awards were initially named after NHL players, eventually taking the name of VHL players who personified the spirit of that award. Naturally, these are some of the best to ever grace the league, and The Talents Behind the Trophies will ensure their stories are known. 


But first, station break! Outside of winning a very serious and important battle to restore our purple color on Discord, there’s some more quality content for the community courtesy of VSN! If you haven’t already checked out @animal74’s detailed breakdown of Jerome Reinhart’s brutal takedown of VHL Playoff records, check out Alpha Wolf! @Alex is bringing back the VHL All-Star Game, and if you didn’t catch the rosters of both the All-Star Game and the Prospect All-Star Game, go ahead and see if your team’s best stars and/or prospects made the cut! Lastly, @samx and @N0HBDY have launched a VSN podcast, which you most certainly should listen to. 


Alpha Wolf | S82 Prospect All-Star Rosters | S82 VHL All-Star Game Selections | VSN Podcast


Throughout the history of the Victory Hockey League, goaltenders have certainly been a different breed. There’s always considerable excitement over the high-scoring forwards, and plenty more hardware as well. While successful builds have been discovered for forwards and defensemen, particularly as of late with the “meta” build, no such formula exists for goaltenders. For whatever reason, over the now 80+ seasons of the VHL, there is no magical build for a goaltender that will put you on the path of greatness. The game has had its share of legendary netminders, but there are certainly factors outside of the build that seem to affect the quality of their performance, seemingly more so than there are for the skaters of the league. The top individual prize for goaltenders began life as the Tretiak Trophy, named after the legendary Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. Consistent success is rare for a VHL goalie, but for those who achieved it and won the trophy multiple times, they became legends of the game. One such legend, however, is in a class of his own when it comes to winning the award for the top goalie in the VHL, doing so four times, more than any other goaltender in VHL history, and naturally the award is now named after this great player. That is, of course, Aidan Shaw, a second round draft pick from the legendary Season 18 VHL Entry Draft class who wound up becoming one of, if not, the greatest goalies in VHL History, retiring as the first goalie to win the Tretiak Trophy four times, and ended his career as the career leader in shutouts and goals-against-average. However, he’s probably best known by the VHL today for being the namesake of the Aidan Shaw Trophy, annually awarded to the top goalie in the VHL, which was renamed from the Tretiak Trophy in Season 29. Today, we’ll take a look at the story of the goaltender whose name adorns the most coveted individual prize for goalies of the VHL.



The Aidan Shaw Trophy, awarded annually to the top goaltender in the VHL.


Simply put, the lore of the Season 18 VHL Entry Draft has a reputation that precedes it. Of the 29 players drafted, six went on to become VHL Hall of Famers, and 13 of them went on to lift the Continental Cup as a VHL champion. The Toronto Legion went into the draft holding five of the top sixteen picks, and put together a haul of top prospects: Cedric Pollack, Peyton Nydroj, Biggie Shakur, Aidan Shaw, and Grienke. In this era, affiliations existed between the VHL and the VHLM, and Toronto sent all five to their VHLM affiliates, the Brampton Battalion. This suddenly-stacked Brampton roster obliterated the competition, cruising to a Prime Minister’s Cup with a 67-5-0 record, and an eventual sweep of the Gothenburg Eagles to win the Founder’s Cup. However, the big story of the season for Toronto and the Brampton Battalion was the emergence of Aidan Shaw as a legitimate option at goaltender for the Legion. During the Battalion’s run to the championship, Shaw posted a staggering 65-5-0 record, stopping .923% of the shots he faced, allowing 2.77 goals on average, and recording four shutouts, earning him the Sawchuk Trophy (later the Benoit Devereux Trophy). In the playoffs, Shaw stepped up his game even further, posting an 8-2-0 record, stopping .935% of the shots he faced, and allowing an average of 2.61 goals, also earning him the Esposito Trophy (later becoming the Skylar Rift Trophy) in the process. Shaw was ready for the big leagues.


With their prospects all called up to the VHL, including David Walcott, acquired due to the exemption rule, the Toronto Legion were suddenly a team brimming with talent and potential. Despite not being in position to be a true contender in Season 19, the fact that the North American Conference was weakened by both the New York Americans and the Seattle Bears entering rebuilds meant that Toronto was able to earn some post-season hockey in the process, even if it meant a quick exit against a powerful Calgary Wranglers team that went on to win the Continental Cup. Aidan Shaw put up a respectable rookie season, going 29-29-6, stopping .911% of the shots against, a GAA of 2.87, and recording five shutouts on the season. It was Season 20, however, in which Shaw exploded into a VHL superstar, and Toronto reaped the benefits after strengthening their roster, including trading Greinke for future VHL Hall of Famer Lars Berger. With Berger, Frans Spelman, and Xavier Martinez powering the offense, the Legion tallied 114 points in Season 20, up from 70 a season ago, which was good for second in the VHL behind only the HC Davos Dynamo. Shaw won 50 games, stopping .929% of the shots against, recording seven shutouts, and allowed under two goals per game on average. His dynamic season resulted in his first Tretiak Trophy win, but Shaw wanted more. Brushing aside the rebuilt Seattle Bears in their first postseason series, Toronto now squared off against Season 18 first overall pick Daisuke Kanou and the HC Davos Dynamo in the Continental Cup Finals. In a classic series that established the beginning of the Shaw-Kanou rivalry, it went down to a decisive Game Seven, where in spite of Shaw’s great play, Kanou and Davos emerged victorious. It was not, however, the last time these two greats would face off with the game’s ultimate prize on the line.



Daisuke Kanou and Aidan Shaw’s rivalry highlighted the era of the VHL following the Season 18 “Super Draft.”


Coming that close to being a Continental Cup champion fueled the reigning Tretiak Trophy winner to somehow elevate his game even higher, and it resulted in another monster season for Aidan Shaw. Winning his second consecutive Tretiak Trophy in the process, Shaw posted a second-straight 50 win season, saving .932% of the shots he faced, posted a shutout eight times, and allowed a GAA of just 1.86. With the addition of Voittu Jannula and the breakout seasons of Peyton Nydroj and Biggie Shakur, Toronto proceeded to capture the Victory Cup, going 58-11-3 for 119 points, securing home-ice advantage. A much-improved Seattle Bears got a rematch with the Legion, and despite pushing Toronto to Game Seven, Shaw was able to shut the door in Game Seven and get his team back to the Continental Cup Finals, once again against Daisuke Kanou and the HC Davos Dynamo. This time, however, Toronto proved to be too much for their rivals, winning the series four games to one, with Shaw leading the way, with his 8-4-0 record, .940 save percentage, 1.62 GAA, and a shutout earning him the Howe Trophy (later to be renamed after Daisuke Kanou himself) as the playoff MVP to go along with the Continental Cup. Even when it seemed like Shaw had reached the zenith of his game, he continued to elevate his status as an elite goaltender even higher in Season 22, proceeding to win a VHL record 57 games (A record which stood until Season 54), the third straight season he had recorded at least 50 victories, a .933 save percentage, a mind-boggling 1.62 GAA, and an incredible ten shutouts, which earned him his third straight Tretiak Trophy. This feat made him just the second player to win the award three times, and the first to win the coveted award three seasons in a row. Additionally, he was voted as the most valuable player by the VHL players, winning the Brett Slobodzian Trophy. With the addition of future VHL Hall of Famer Phil Gerrard from rival Seattle, Toronto continued to roll and again won the Victory Cup, advancing to the Continental Cup Finals for the third straight season. However, Shaw just wasn’t the same player he was in the regular season, going 6-6-1 with just a .901 save percentage, a shutout, and a 2.69 GAA, falling to the Helsinki Titans in six games, an ignominious end to an otherwise phenomenal season for him and Toronto.



Aidan Shaw’s four Tretiak Trophy wins cemented him as one of the VHL’s greatest goalies ever.


The hangover of the disappointment of the ending to Season 22 had a tremendous impact on Aidan Shaw, and it majorly reflected in his performance in Season 23. For the first time since his rookie season, he failed to win 50 games, his streak of winning the Tretiak Trophy came to an end, and his save percentage dipped to .913%. Regardless of the drop in his statistical production, the Toronto Legion were the top team in the North American Conference once again, but they were still quite vulnerable, with the dominant edge that was seen in Seasons 21 and 22 clearly missing. They faced off against Jardy Bunclewirth, Mathias Chouinard, Joey Clarence, and the Calgary Wranglers in the first round, and after jumping out to a 5-2 win in Toronto, things looked to be righting themselves for the Legion. However, the illusion was quickly shattered when Calgary rolled to four straight victories, capping it off with an embarassing 3-0 defeat for the Legion on their home ice in Toronto in Game Five, eliminating them in front of their stunned fans. Shaw managed just a .899 save percentage and a GAA of 2.74 in the shocking series against the Wranglers, who went on to win the Continental Cup over the Helsinki Titans in part to the heroics of Chouinard, who won the Howe Trophy.


If the VHL thought that this was the end of the dominance of Aidan Shaw, however, they were sadly mistaken. As if he had never missed a beat, he returned to his old form in Season 24, going 47-13-4, stopping .931% of the shots he faced, shutting out his opponents nine times, and allowed a GAA of 1.77. Shaw’s dominant return to form earned him an unprecedented fourth Tretiak Trophy, but in a VHL-first, the Tretiak was co-won, with, fittingly enough, Daisuke Kanou also earning a share of the award with his old rival. However, one thing that cannot be shared is the Continental Cup, which Shaw and Kanou once again found themselves competing against each other for, and despite a herculean .946 save percentage, three shutouts, and 1.45 GAA, Kanou and the HC Davos Dynamo won the rubber match of their meetings in the Continental Cup in six games. Season 25 was Shaw’s last in the VHL, and his age was beginning to show. While he was still a respectable 38-23-3, with a .916 save percentage, seven shutouts, and a GAA of 2.32, which was still one of the better seasons in a year in which goaltenders struggled, it still wasn’t what you’d come to expect from Aidan Shaw. Yet again, however, Toronto claimed the top seed in the North American Conference thanks to franchise mainstays David Walcott, Phil Gerrard, and Shaw, but still had that vulnerable feeling to them that lingered in Season 23. Those feelings came to fruition in the first round, as the New York Americans made short work of the Toronto Legion, ending the series and the career of Aidan Shaw with a four game sweep.



Phil Gerrard proved to be one of the most vital components of the Toronto Legion in Shaw’s time.


Shaw did not need to wait long to hear his name called for the VHL Hall of Fame, and with good reason. He retired as the career-leader in shutouts with 52, and his career GAA of 2.06 was also the lowest at the time as well. He also won 315 games despite only starting in the VHL for seven seasons, another impressive feat. As a result, Aidan Shaw was inducted in his first season of eligibility in Season 26 with who else but Daisuke Kanou, with whom his career had been intertwined with. Both netminders also had awards renamed after them, with the Tretiak Trophy being named after Shaw, the only player to this day to win the award four times in a career, with the Howe Trophy for playoff MVP being named after Kanou due to his legendary postseason performances. To this day, Shaw remains the Toronto’s Legion’s career leader in wins, and continues to be regarded as one of not only Toronto’s, but the VHL’s greatest goaltenders. For a goaltender in the VHL, to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Aidan Shaw is to win the award named after the great netminder, who won it four out of the seven seasons he was active in the league. It is a feat that many have tried to match, but none have succeeded at. But then again, Shaw wasn’t simply great, he was consistently great, and that is something that simply isn’t very likely to be matched anytime soon, and that, I believe, is why Aidan Shaw remains on such a pedestal nearly sixty seasons after he retired.


Player Mentions: @brooks., @Bushito, @Knight, @Victor, @Arce, @BluObieZ, @Baozi, @McNeil, @Phil, @JardyB10, @.sniffuM, @Spangle

Edited by Doomsday
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...