Adam Fox’s stellar Rangers season has historic Norris Trophy potential

Adam Fox is in his sophomore NHL season. Only one defenseman in NHL history has won the Norris Trophy in his second NHL season and his name just happens to be Bobby Orr. The Fox Hunt is on for the

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Adam Fox is in his sophomore NHL season. Only one defenseman in NHL history has won the Norris Trophy in his second NHL season and his name just happens to be Bobby Orr.

The Fox Hunt is on for the hardware awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman. The Fox Hunt is on for history.

He is 23 and you’d be inclined to think he has been overhyped over the last six weeks if you haven’t watched him play. But once you see him, you get it.

Once you see the way Fox breaks up plays at one end before creating them at the other, you get it. Once you see the way he avoids getting caught in traffic in the offensive zone so that he can come back and defend on a counter-attack, you get it. Once you see him no-look pass for one setup after another for the big guns, you get it. Once you see him consistently win puck battles with bigger men, you get it.

The beauty of Fox, who willed his way through paper-stops in Calgary and Carolina on his way to the place he has had his heart set on playing since he was a mere tyke, is in his subtlety. The beauty of Fox is the way his game sings.

The beauty of Fox is that he never, and that means never, sings his own praises.

Others do that for him. It wasn’t No. 23 who came up with the phrase, “Foxy Skill.” That was courtesy of Brendan Smith. Make it a hashtag. #Foxyskill.

Rangers defenseman Adam Fox is a contender for the Norris Trophy.
Getty Images

Is Fox, who leads NHL defensemen with 46 points and 41 assists, two and five ahead of runner-up Victor Hedman in each category, having a better year than his counterpart in Tampa Bay, who at age 30 is seeking his second Norris, and doesn’t it seem that the Swede should have more than one?

Is Fox having a better year than Washington’s perennial candidate John Carlson, who at age 31 is in search of his first Norris?

He is right there with them, that is for sure. He has been asked to do more for a team with less. He is right there with anyone, including LA’s Drew Doughty, Colorado’s Cale Makar and Vegas’ Shea Theodore.

Much of the focus on Fox has been trained on his creativity with the puck, with more on his offensive totals that popped through a consecutive 12-game stretch beginning in mid-March in which he recorded 22 points (3-19). Chicks dig the long ball, Norris voters dig high-scoring defensemen.

Of course there is more to it than that.  

Fox has also received a fair amount of notice for his ability to turn plays into quick transition the other way. There has also been recognition of his ability to defend as a somewhat undersized (5-11, 180) matchup right defenseman. Five-on-five goals on the ice for: 38. Goals against: 24. Goals For percentage of 61.29 that ranks seventh in the league and ahead of all the Norris competitors other than Theodore.

There is some steel to Fox’s game. He plays hard, he plays clean, he plays a lot, 12th in the league at 24:24 per. That represents the most ice time for a Ranger since Ryan McDonagh’s 24:49 in 2013-14.

That is noticed, certainly by head coach David Quinn, who touched on that hours before his team’s critical Tuesday night match against the Sabres at the Garden.

“He’s got really good hockey strength, too, for a guy who isn’t that big,” Quinn said. “He does a really good job with his leverage, understanding how to be in a battle with someone who might be bigger.

“That’s an art.”

And there is that #Foxy Mentality.

“To me, the biggest piece of defending is wanting to actually do it and make important to yourself and that is something he has done ever since he has been here,” Quinn said. “Everybody raves about his hockey sense and his offensive ability, as they should.

“But to have that skill-set and the offensive ability and actually want to defend at the level that he does, that’s what makes him the special player he has become.”

When you watch Fox on the ice, when you see how he comports himself off of the ice, you see someone who would have fit right in with the great Devils defenses during their Era of Excellence. You see someone who would have thrived under Jacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson.  

You see someone who is thriving on Broadway under Quinn and Jacques Martin. One defenseman only, and it is the one who stands alone in NHL annals, has won the Norris in his second season. There is Orr.

And now there is the Fox Hunt.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Larry Brooks

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