The youngest player in league history to win the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion won the Hart Trophy from writers as most valuable player and the Pearson Award from his peers as most outstanding player. Crosby was recently named captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins and after winning the most coveted individual awards in hockey he was asked if he’d just had the best two weeks of his life.
“I haven’t won the Stanley Cup yet so ask me after that,” he replied during the post-awards news conference. “But this has been a couple of memorable weeks.”
The Cole Harbour, N.S., teen became the seventh player in league history to pull off the Ross-Hart-Pearson hat trick.
Crosby amassed 120 points last season and he did it while playing the last six weeks with a broken bone in a foot. He’d gone away with empty hands after losing the top rookie award to Alex Ovechkin one year ago. This time he went away with his hands full.
“That wasn’t what drove me to play this year,” he said. “I just wanted to be better than I was before.”
He thanked his parents.
“The sacrifices of my parents, the early mornings, the practices . . . I owe a lot of thanks to them,” he said.
There were four repeat winners.
Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings won the Norris Trophy for the second year in a row and fifth time overall, teammate Pavel Datsyuk won the Lady Byng Trophy as most gentlemanly player the second year in a row.
Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils won the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender for the third time, and Carolina Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour won his second straight Selke Trophy as top defensive forward.
The Vancouver Canucks’ Alain Vigneault received the Adams Award as top coach, and Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin got the Calder Trophy as top rookie.
Vinny Lecavalier, a finalist for the Pearson, got the Maurice Richard Trophy for scoring a league-high 52 goals.
Phil Kessel of the Boston Bruins, who completed his rookie season after being diagnosed in December with testicular cancer, received the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for humanitarianism for his work with charities. Koivu battled and beat non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The Hart was last in the order of presentation and Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe, a six-time winner, handed it to Crosby.
“To get that from him was obviously a huge honour,” said Crosby. “Everyone knows the history and what he’s done for the game.”
Crosby is the second-youngest winner of the Hart since it was introduced in 1924. Wayne Gretzky was five months younger when he got it in 1980.
The Pearson Award had kicked things off and Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the presentation.
Brodeur lauded Crosby’s achievements.
“The fans love him,” said Brodeur. “Everybody seems to be on his wagon, and that’s well deserved.
“He’s going to be like Gretzky in making the NHL a better sport.”
Crosby got 91 first-place votes and 1,225 points in Hart voting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo was second with 25 first-place votes and 801 points, and Brodeur was third with 21 first-place votes and 763 votes.
On finishing his season hurt, Crosby said he would have done anything to get the trophy he wanted most.
“I’ve always had a passion to play so, if I can play, I’m going to try and play,” he said. “It was just a matter of wanting to play.
“You dream of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs and, hopefully, winning the Stanley Cup and you never want to let your team down. I gave it my all and laid it all out there.”
The Penguins’ 47-point improvement last season was the fourth-best in league history.
Through it all, Crosby appears to have kept his ego in rein.
“I’ve got another year of experience but I don’t think I’ve changed that much,” he said. “That season and the five games in the playoffs has helped a lot.
“As a team, we learned a lot about ourselves and we learned what we need to improve on. That’s the biggest thing – just gaining experience.”
Voting details for the Pearson Award were not released by the NHLPA.
Lidstrom’s plus-40 tied him for best plus-minus rating among all blue-liners. A PHWA poll gave him 87 first-place votes and 1,217 points. Runner-up was Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer, who led all defencemen in scoring with career highs in assists (54) and points (69). He got 46 first-place votes and 1,024 points.
Lidstrom is the fourth D-man in league history with as many as five Norris wins. Bobby Orr (eight), Doug Harvey (seven) and Ray Bourque (five) are the others.
“It feels almost unbelievable,” Lidstrom said of tying Bourque, a former opponent he admired. “To be tied with him is a great feeling.”
Brodeur posted an NHL-record 48 wins and had 12 shutouts last season. Luongo won 47 games and his stats on goals-against average and save percentage left him only slightly behind Brodeur.
The 30 GMs voted on the Vezina, and it was close. Brodeur got 16 first-place votes and 122 points, while Luongo got 14 first-place votes and 116 points.
“I’m hanging in there with the young guy so it’s good,” said a smiling Brodeur. “I love playing this game and I try to play as hard as I can every game and every year.”
It was interesting to note that Luongo was ahead of Brodeur for the Hart but behind him on the Vezina count. Different voters, different views.
Brind’Amour had mixed emotions about getting the Selke again.
“I like to be thought of as a good two-way player but I’ll take it,” he said. “To not have had a good year as a team, it’s nice to have something to hang your hat on.”
The PHWA tally was close: Brind’Amour got 16 first-and 21 second-place votes and amassed 420 points, while Anaheim’s Sammy Pahlsson got 24 first-and eight second-place votes and had a total of 405 points.
Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association voted for coach of the year and Vigneault got 18 first-place votes and 134 points. Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff, who won the Adams Award last year, was second with 126 points, Pittsburgh’s Michel Therrien was third with 91 and Nashville’s Barry Trotz was fourth with 89. Ruff, Therrien and Trotz each got 11 first-place votes.
Vancouver had the best record in the league after Christmas and finished with a franchise-record 49 wins.
“There wasn’t one turning point,” said Vigneault. “It was a combination of Roberto playing really well and our guys finally scoring some goals.”
Malkin, who led all rookies in goals (33), power-play goals (16), assists (52) and points (85), got a clear-cut Calder decision in another PHWA-decided trophy. The Russian speedster got 120 of 143 first-place votes for 1,357 points. Second was Colorado’s Paul Stastny with 16 first-place votes and 965 points.
Datsyuk led Detroit in scoring with 87 points while serving only 20 penalty minutes.