Alexander Ovechkin named NHL MVP
Just as he did on the ice, Washington Capitals sniper Alexander Ovechkin scored big at the NHL Awards on Thursday, capping a spectacular season with the Hart Trophy as most valuable player.
"I'm the happiest 22-year-old guy on the planet," he told reporters at Toronto's Elgin Theatre.
It came as no surprise that the electrifying Russian forward was named MVP, especially after the NHL's online store inadvertently posted an advertisement for licensed Ovechkin T-shirts emblazoned with "2007-08 Hart Trophy winner" last Friday.
It was swiftly removed from the website.
The other Hart finalists were Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, who stepped up when Sidney Crosby went down with a sprained ankle.
"He is very deserving," Iginla said of Ovechkin, nicknamed Alexander The Great.
"It was fun to watch him, too."
Ovechkin also won the Lester B. Pearson Award for most outstanding player, as voted by his peers in the NHL Players' Association.
"It's a big award because it's who the players think is the best player in the NHL," Ovechkin said. "It means a lot.
"Everything I have got, I make myself. I'm working hard and I know it's improving."
Ovechkin secured the Art Ross Trophy for his league-high 112 points, and the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy with 65 goals — the most since Mario Lemieux had 69 goals in 1995-96.
Ovechkin led the NHL with 11 winners and 22 power-play goals, plus he eclipsed the NHL record of 63 goals by a left-winger, set by Luc Robitaille in 1992-93.
"I want to win everything," Ovechkin said. "So next year, maybe the Stanley Cup."
Datsyuk takes two
Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk was honoured for his defensive prowess with the Selke Trophy, edging teammate Henrik Zetterberg and New Jersey Devils forward John Madden.
Datsyuk, 29, later captured the Lady Byng as most gentlemanly player for the third straight season — the first skater to do so since Frank Boucher (1933-35).
"Next year, I don't think I will win this," he quipped.
Datsyuk posted 33 goals and a team-high 97 points with a plus-41 rating in 82 games.
The stylish forward spent just 20 minutes in the penalty box — same as the previous season and two minutes fewer than in 2005-06.
Capitals rookie head coach Bruce Boudreau beat out Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock and Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
Washington had a league-worst 6-14-1 record when Glen Hanlon was fired Nov. 22 and replaced behind the bench with Boudreau, who led them to a 37-17-7 record, including a blistering 11-1 finish.
Guided by Boudreau and ignited by the ebullient Ovechkin, the Capitals clinched the Southeast Division with 94 points and their first playoff berth since the 2002-2003 season.
"A year ago, I would have never believed this," Boudreau said.
Brodeur nets Vezina
Martin Brodeur of the Devils was the winner of the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender for the fourth time in five seasons.
Dominik Hasek, who retired on Monday, holds the record of six since general managers began voting on the award in 1982.
"I was really happy with the way I played this year," said Brodeur, who edged out Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks by two first-place votes.
"[My health] has been great in the last four or five years. I feel great."
Brodeur, 36, posted a 44-27-6 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and four shutouts in 77 starts, scaling the 500-win plateau and moving to within seven shutouts of Terry Sawchuk's NHL record of 103.
Brodeur led the NHL in minutes played (4,635), tied Nabokov for the league lead in starts and finished with two fewer wins than Nabokov.
New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who had a league-best 10 shutouts, was the other finalist.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom captured the Norris Trophy as top defenceman for the sixth time, trailing only Bobby Orr (8) and Doug Harvey (7).
Lidstrom, 38, led all defencemen with 70 points and a plus-40 rating in 76 games this season, and was the first European-born captain to win the Stanley Cup.
"I never take this for granted," he said. "But it really feels special coming here after winning the Cup."
Also in the running were Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Dion Phaneuf of the Flames.
Kane raises Calder
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was the recipient of the Calder Trophy as top rookie over teammate Jonathan Toews and Washington's Nicklas Backstrom.
Kane, 19, led all rookies with 72 points in 82 games, including 21 goals. He was drafted first overall by Chicago in 2007.
"It was $500 for the winner," Kane said of the bet he made with Toews. "I'll take it."
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for humanitarian contributions.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake was honoured with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Blake, 34, was diagnosed with leukemia prior to the season, but didn't miss a single game.
"There's lots of guys that go through certain things throughout their career and you have got to give them credit," Blake said. "I was very fortunate to play all 82 games and compete at the highest level."
Hall of Famer Gordie Howe was the recipient of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
"The game is in great hands," said Howe, 80. "Not good hands, but great hands."
With files from the Canadian Press