Henrik Sedin’s unforgettable season culminated with a trophy few ever thought he would win.
The Vancouver Canucks forward became the ninth different player in as many seasons to claim the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader on Sunday. His final total of 112 points was three better than superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, who each had a chance on the final day of the season to take a run at the trophy.
“It is a great honour to win this trophy – the names of past winners are many of the players we looked up to growing up in Sweden,” said Sedin. “Many of my teammates have had career seasons offensively and this trophy is a reflection of our hard work.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity my teammates and the coaching staff gave me to try and win this award. It reflects teamwork and commitment.”
Sedin’s season ended with a magnificent four-assist night against the Calgary Flames on Saturday. After that, he was forced to wait before officially becoming the first Canucks player ever to lead the league in scoring.
Crosby did his best to mount an unlikely late comeback.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain had two goals and three assists against the New York Islanders. He fell short of Sedin’s point total, but surpassed the 50-goal plateau for the first time in his career and earned a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy with Steven Stamkos at 51 goals.
Crosby was poised have the goal-scoring award all to himself until the Tampa Bay Lightning sophomore hit an empty net with 13 seconds remaining in a game against Florida.
Both players dramatically improved their goal totals in 2009-10 – Stamkos had 23 last season while Crosby’s previous best was the 39 he had as a rookie in 2005-06.
Ovechkin finished with 50 goals, falling just short of leading the league lead for the third straight season. He also had a shot at catching Sedin in the points race, but was held off the scoresheet by the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; so congrats to Sedin,” said Ovechkin. “He deserved it. He played great. We all tried, but some get it, some don’t.”
There might not have been anyone who saw Sedin’s season coming. Even though he and brother Daniel have long been considered solid NHL players, they were always a step behind the league’s elite scorers.
Consider that Henrik Sedin had a career-best 82 points last year – and then bettered that mark by 30 points at the age of 29.
It was enough to book him a trip to Las Vegas for the NHL awards on June 23. That’s when he’ll officially be presented the Art Ross Trophy and will also likely be in the running for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
“He deserves it,” said linemate Alex Burrows. “People all over North America are going to realize that he’s as good as Ovechkin or Crosby, but in a different kind of way.”
The Washington Capitals were the league’s most dominant team, picking up the Presidents’ Trophy with a record of 54-15-13 and 121 points. They were one of 11 teams to crack the century mark – seven of which play in the Western Conference.
Capitals defenceman Mike Green led all defencemen in scoring for the second straight season with 76 points while Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche was the top rookie point-getter with 55 – one more than John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
And Martin Broduer put together another good season for the New Jersey Devils, winning his fifth career William Jennings Trophy as the goaltender for the team that allowed the fewest goals. He also led the NHL with 45 wins and nine shutouts.
Boston Bruins rookie Tuukka Rask was tops with a 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
The scoring race went right down to the last weekend of the season and Sedin, Ovechkin and Crosby received plenty of opportunity to make a final push. They each saw more than 22 minutes of ice time in their final game.
With the playoffs looming, each will now focus his attention back to a more important competition.
“I’m glad the whole race thing is over,” said Washington capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.