LAS VEGAS, Nev. – It’s a good thing Henrik Sedin doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight.
The Vancouver Canucks forward capped a breakthrough season by winning the Hart Trophy at the NHL’s awards show Wednesday night, but had to watch as Alex Ovechkin accepted the Ted Lindsay Award.
They’ll go down as co-MVPs—the Hart is voted on by the media, while the Lindsay is selected by the players. That’s just fine with Sedin, who seemed as surprised as anyone that he’s officially joined the NHL’s elite.
“To be standing there next to (Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby) and being the old guy, it’s a strange feeling,” he said. “I’m very proud. It was a great honour for sure.”
The humble Swede went on to say that Ovechkin and Crosby were the best players in the league even though he was called to the stage instead of them to accept the final award of the evening. At first, he wasn’t sure that he’d actually won.
“When they said my name, I didn’t really think they said my name,” recalled Sedin.
He and twin brother Daniel arrived in the NHL as top-ranked prospects in 2000 and took some time to adjust to the North American game. Henrik had 29 points as a rookie.
However, the 29-year-old continued to work at his game and ended up leading the entire league in scoring this season with 112 points.
That journey was on his mind while sitting next to a trophy engraved with names like Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe and Richard.
“It wasn’t like we came in when we were 19 and everything went extremely well from Day 1,” said Sedin. “We came in with maybe as big of expectations that Sid and Alex had, but it didn’t work out. We had some tough times, some struggles. We stayed strong.
“To work as hard as we did and to see the results, it makes it even more a greater feeling.”
Ovechkin was also feeling pretty good after winning another major individual award—something he’s done after four of his five seasons. The Russian star has now been voted the best player by his peers for three years running.
“I have the most hard trophy to get—the players’ award,” said Ovechkin. “So I’m very happy.”
It was the second straight year the league staged its award show at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas and this one came off much better than the first. Host Jay Mohr had the audience in stitches during his opening monologue—taking shots at the Phoenix Coyotes and Boston Bruins, among others—and Anaheim Ducks teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan were shown in a hilarious taped skit making light of the fact they faced one another in the Olympic final.
The evening featured a number of players who are likely to continue finding themselves in the conversation for these type of honours moving forward.
Ryan Miller (Vezina Trophy as top goaltender), Duncan Keith (Norris Trophy as top defenceman) and Tyler Myers (Calder Trophy as top rookie) each won awards in their first time being nominated.
Buffalo Sabres teammates Miller and Myers were both a little humbled.
“I’m looking at all these names,” said Miller, motioning towards the trophy. “It’s pretty amazing the history on this trophy. So to get my name on there is pretty cool.”
Added Myers: “I can’t believe I’m at this point right now.”
For Keith, an amazing year got just a little bit better. He won an Olympic gold with Canada in February and the Stanley Cup with Chicago earlier this month before topping it off with the highest honour a defenceman can receive.
The 27-year-old doesn’t want the party to stop.
“It’s just been a whirlwind,” said Keith. “It seems like it’s one thing after the next. You want to get rest, you want to sleep, but at the same time you don’t want to miss any of the fun.”
Among the other award winners: Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes won the Jack Adams Award as top coach; Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings won his third consecutive Selke Trophy as top defensive forward; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis won the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player; and Washington Capitals goalie Jose Theodore took home the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Theodore helped the Capitals to the best record in the NHL during a season where he was playing with a heavy heart. His infant son Chace died last summer due to complications stemming from his premature birth.
“I’m still struggling to get by every day,” said Theodore, who got emotional during his acceptance speech. “Yesterday would have been his first birthday, so you can imagine it was twice as hard for me today.”