NHL denies possible leak of Ovechkin as MVP
The NHL's official online store may have inadvertently leaked this year's Hart Trophy winner.
The website briefly featured an Alex Ovechkin t-shirt on Friday with the phrase "2007-08 Hart Trophy winner" displayed along the bottom. It was removed from the site later in the day.
League officials insist that the winner of the award wasn't revealed and that the mistake was attributable to a third-party distributor. The NHL also pointed out that licensees create products for every possible scenario.
According to the league, the shirts would be destroyed if Ovechkin didn't win the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.
"In an effort to offer our fans the merchandise they want in a timely manner following an event such as the NHL Awards, our licensees prepare product for all possible outcomes," NHL spokesman Frank Brown said in a statement.
"In this situation, the link for one of the possible products became live early through an error by our e-commerce provider. We regret the error and have taken steps to amend."
Ovechkin, 22, has earned his first Hart Trophy nomination in his third season in the league.
The native of Moscow played in all 82 games this season and won the Art Ross trophy as the NHL's scoring leader (112 points) as well as the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer (65 goals). That goal total was the most by an NHL player since Mario Lemieux scored 69 times during the 1995-96 campaign. It also set a league record for goals by a left-winger, surpassing Luc Robitaille's 63 with the Los Angeles Kings in 1992-93.
Ovechkin also led the league in power-play goals (22) and game-winning goals (11), to help the Capitals capture the Southeast Division for the first time since 2001.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and Calgary Flames superstar Jarome Iginla are also in contention for the league's Most Valuable Player award.
The winner will be announced at the league's awards ceremony June 12 in Toronto (8 p.m. local time, CBC).
With files from the Canadian Press