ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin
is one of three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually to the player judged most valuable to his team. Ovechkin, who captured the Hart in 2007-08, joins fellow Russians Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit) and Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh) as the three finalists.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters announced as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada. The Capitals are assured of at least two candidates for honors at the show, as Mike Green
is a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.
Ovechkin could become the first player to win back-to-back Hart Trophies since Dominik Hasek in 1996-97 and ’97-98. The last non-goaltender to win consecutive Hart Trophies was Wayne Gretzky, who won eight in a row from 1980-87.
“It means a lot to me to be up for this award,” Ovechkin said. “I always want to be the best, so this is a great honor. It’s special, too, with three Russians nominated. It is a great thing for our country and our sport.”
Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (56), earning the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the second consecutive season. He also led the league in points per game (1.39), shots (528) and power-play points (46). His 110 points in 79 games ranked second in the league, and his goal total was 10 more than any other player. He finished the season recording eight more points than any other player after the NHL All-Star Game (51; Malkin and Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh were second with 43 each).
Ovechkin recorded his 200th career goal, 200th career assist and 400th career point during 2008-09, as he led Washington to a second consecutive Southeast Division title. He joined Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as the only players to record 200 goals and 200 assists in their first four NHL seasons.
Ovechkin won the “Espo Award” as the most valuable player in the league from Phil Esposito on NHL Home Ice. He won the Kharlamov Trophy as the top Russian player in the league for the fourth year in a row and was named the Best Player and Most Valuable Player by The Hockey News. Ovechkin was named to his third straight NHL All-Star Game and won the Breakaway Challenge in the SuperSkills competition. He was the NHL’s First Star of the month in November and the Third Star in December.