- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Although it was something of a formality, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin officially became a finalist for the Hart Trophy yesterday.

Ovechkin led the NHL with 65 goals and 112 points this season and is a heavy favorite to collect the trophy at the league’s awards ceremony June 12 in Toronto. The other finalists are Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla.

The Hart, which members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association vote on, is one of two league MVP honors that will be awarded that night. The other is the Lester B. Pearson Award, which the players vote on, and the finalists will be announced tomorrow.

Ovechkin, who is with Team Russia preparing for the IIHF World Championships, will become the first Russian-born player to receive the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points at the awards ceremony. He also will collect his first Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goals.

Should he sweep the MVP trophies, he will become the first player in league history to win all four awards, though the Richard Trophy has been awarded only since 1999. Ovechkin also likely will be named a first-team All-Star for the third straight season.

Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy, will join Ovechkin at the awards ceremony. Backstrom led all rookies with 55 assists and finished second to Chicago’s Patrick Kane with 69 points. Kane and teammate Jonathan Toews are the other two finalists in what could be the closest vote of the night.

Their coach, Bruce Boudreau, will find out today if he is one of the finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which the league’s broadcasters vote on. Boudreau stepped behind the bench for the Caps, who were last in the NHL through 21 games, and after a 37-17-7 run captured the Southeast Division and earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Ovechkin would be the team’s first league MVP and this city’s first in one of the four major sports since Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann in 1983.

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