TORONTO – Alex Ovechkin made NHL history, but not because of his accomplishments in his MVP season.
The Washington Capitals star was voted an NHL all-star first-team right wing, and because of a voting error also was named to the second team at left wing.
Ovechkin’s position-switch was one of the top stories of the lockout-shortened season, as he played 44 of 48 games as a right-winger.
Ovechkin played four games at left wing early in the season alongside linemates Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb. He scored two goals in those four games, both on the power play.
Once Ovechkin adjusted to right wing, he finished the season with 23 goals in 23 games and won the Hart Trophy. General manager George McPhee said Ovechkin’s third MVP was more special because of the work it took to achieve it.
Members of The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association cast votes on the NHL all-star teams. Ovechkin was the runaway winner at right wing, finishing ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Marty St. Louis. But Ovechkin still received 45 votes at left wing, including 41 first-place votes.
PHWA members received an email April 22 informing them of Ovechkin’s position switch before ballots were due. The NHL officially had him listed as a left-winger as of Wednesday.
“We are troubled by the all-star voting results, and plan to take a closer look at the events that led to Ovechkin winning all-star acclaim at two positions,” PHWA president and USA Today hockey reporter Kevin Allen said in a statement. “We know we got this wrong, and our objective is to make sure it never happens again.”
Ovechkin was joined as a first-team all-star by Pittsburgh Penguins left-winger Chris Kunitz and centre Sidney Crosby, defencemen P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Ovechkin was joined as a second-team all-star by St. Louis, Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews, defencemen Kris Letang of the Penguins and Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers was third in the voting among left-wingers, while Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings was fourth.
Mark Messier was also an all-star at two positions—left wing and centre—in his career, but those honours did not happen in the same season.
During its annual meeting Sunday, the PHWA formed a committee to study the voting process, including eligibility and transparency.