TORONTO – All that’s missing now is the biggest trophy of them all.
Washington Capitals superstar winger Alexander Ovechkin capped a magical season Thursday night by capturing the two most prestigious individual awards in hockey, winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the players’ choice for the most outstanding player.
The trophy haul had already included the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer (65) and the Art Ross Trophy as the top point-getter (112).
Next up for this trophy case?
“I want to win everything,” said the 22-year-old Ovechkin. “So next year maybe the Stanley Cup.”
Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins were the other finalists for both the Hart and Pearson. But the night, and the year, belonged to Ovechkin.
He was the slam dunk choice for the Hart, receiving 128 of 134 first-place votes in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
“Looking at Ovechkin, he’s had that kind of year,” marvelled Iginla. “Sixty-five goals, leading scorer in the league, and their team made the playoffs. They turned it around pretty amazingly and everyone knows what a huge part of that he was.
“He’s very deserving. It was fun to watch him, too.”
Ovechkin took home the double MVP awards just a year after rival Sidney Crosby did the same for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He’s a great player, one of the best in the league,” Ovechkin said of Crosby. “For me though, I don’t like to compare.”
Ovechkin was all smiles when his head coach Bruce Boudreau joined in the fun by picking up the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year, beating out equally deserving candidates in Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens and Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings.
“A year ago I would have never believed this,” said Boudreau, who after years of coaching in the minor leagues finally got his shot in late November when he took over the Caps.
The Caps could not complete the sweep, however, as Nicklas Backstrom did not take home the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. That honour belonged to Patrick Kane, who led all freshman with 72 points (21-51) in 82 games. He’s the first Hawk to win the Calder since goalie Ed Belfour in 1990-91.
Kane also beat out Hawks linemate Jonathan Toews for the award. Toews led all rookies with 24 goals despite missing more than a month with a knee injury. Backstrom was second in rookie scoring with 69 points (14-55) in 82 games.
As smiling Kane revealed he made a bet with Toews just before the awards show.
“It was $500 for the winner, I’ll take it,” said Kane.
While Kane got his first taste of the NHL awards, it was old hat for Nicklas Lidstrom. The Detroit Red Wings captain captured his sixth career Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman, moving him only two behind Bobby Orr’s eight and one behind Doug Harvey’s seven.
“I never take this for granted,” said Lidstrom. “But it really feels special coming here after winning the Cup. It’s like icing on the cake.”
Lidstrom, 38, led all NHL defencemen in scoring during the regular season with 70 points (10-60) in 76 games and led all blue-liners with a plus-40 rating. He beat out Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames for the award, taking 127 of 134 first-place ballots from the writers.
Does he have room for yet another trophy?
“I keep a house back in Sweden so I have room over there as well,” Lidstrom said with a laugh. “But like I said, it never gets old. It’s something I’m really proud of.”
Another Wings great was also honoured on this night. Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, was awarded the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award by commissioner Gary Bettman.
“The game is in great hands, not good hands, but great hands,” Howe said he looked down at the front row lined with minor hockey players.
The Wings theme continued on this night. Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk won the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player and the Selke Trophy as top defensive forward. He’s the first player in 73 years to win the Lady Byng three seasons in a row but he said the Selke meant more, testimony to his two-way game.
Martin Brodeur, meanwhile, refuses to give up the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender. The New Jersey Devils star goalie won the award for the fourth time in the past five seasons, beating out Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. He beat Nabokov by only seven points in voting by NHL GMs, the closest race of the night.
“I was really happy with the way I played this year,” said Brodeur, who had 15 first-place votes to Nabokov’s 13. “(My health) has been great in the last four or five years. I don’t know if it was the rest during the lockout or what. But I feel great.”
His four Vezinas is second only to the six won by Dominik Hasek since the award started being voted on by the NHL’s 30 general managers in 1982.
An emotional Jason Blake won the Bill Masterton Trophy as the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The Toronto Maple Leafs winger was diagnosed with leukemia just before the start of the regular season but never once missed a game.
“I’ve been so lucky in life to play in the NHL, have three beautiful kids and be married to a wonderful woman,” said Blake. “I get to play the game I love at the highest level and I get to continue doing it as long as some team wants me.”
Star centre Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning won the King Clancy Trophy given to the player who shows leadership on and off the ice and contributes to his community. Last October, Lecavalier donated a $3-million pledge to construct a pediatric cancer and blood disorders centre at the All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.