LAS VEGAS | Even as Alex Ovechkin swept the NHL’s regular-season MVP awards for the second consecutive season, he was reminded that the trophy he wants most is in the hands of his rivals.
Ovechkin won both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award on Thursday night at the NHL Awards show in the Palms hotel - a ceremony that began with playoff MVP Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot of the Pittsburgh Penguins accompanying the Stanley Cup to the stage.
“It’s pretty important when people, players give you the [awards],” Ovechkin said. “I don’t want to stop. I want to be the best again next year. I want to be in the same situation as Pittsburgh was. Personal stats is good. Personal award is good. I just want to win one award, and that’s the Stanley Cup.”
Malkin and Ovechkin shared the stage when the Penguins center collected the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s scoring champion and the Capitals left wing picked up the Maurice Richard Trophy as the leading goal-scorer.
Ovechkin even offered a “Geno, Geno” chant during his acceptance speech for the Pearson and joked that Malkin’s grasp of English was at least better than Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, the third nominee for both MVP awards.
“He deserves it. He’s been the best player in the league the last two years for sure, and he’s probably the best to watch, too,” Chicago’s Patrick Kane said of Ovechkin. “He’s such a great talent. There is so much skill in his game and so much fire. He is just so much fun to watch.”
This night was a coronation for Russians in the NHL. Ovechkin left with three awards, while Datsyuk won the Selke (top defensive forward) and Lady Byng (sportsmanship). Russian legends Igor Larionov and Vladimir Konstantinov presented Ovechkin with the Pearson; teammate and 1994 winner Sergei Fedorov handed him the Hart.
“I was a little kid when I saw Konstantinov, Fedorov and Larionov, and it was too bad what happened after they won the Stanley Cup,” Ovechkin said, referencing the limousine accident that severely injured Konstantinov in 1997. “I am happy they give me the trophies, and I will remember that all my life.”
Ovechkin ended up with 115 of 133 first-place votes in the Hart voting. Malkin was a distant second with 12.
Washington’s Mike Green finished second to Boston’s Zdeno Chara for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given to the league’s top defenseman. Green joined Ovechkin on the league’s first all-star team. It was the first time in Capitals history that two players were named to the team, and Ovechkin is the second player in NHL history to earn first-team honors each of his first four seasons in the league.
Next year could be a prosperous one for Ovechkin. He has a chance to win the Hart for a third consecutive time, a feat matched only by Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr. He also likely will play for his country in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and attempt to deliver the Stanley Cup to the District for the first time.
“Right now, I just want to go on vacation - I don’t want to think about Stanley Cups or [gold medals],” he said. “I just want to go to the pool and have fun - a little bit of dancing and a little bit of fun. That’s all about it.”