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Ovechkin Has Another Hardware Haul

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Five years ago this month, the hockey careers of Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green converged when the Washington Capitals chose both players in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.

Tonight in Las Vegas, both players were up for major NHL awards. Ovechkin claimed the Hart Trophy, the Maurice Richard Trophy and the Lester Pearson Award for the second straight season. He was runner-up for the Art Ross Trophy, a trophy he won last season.

Green narrowly missed winning the Norris Trophy, getting outpointed by Boston’s Zdeno Chara by a 1,034-982 count.

Ovechkin and Green did make Capitals history by becoming the first Washington teammates to earn First Team All-Star recognition.

Ovechkin was part of an historic class of nominees for the Hart. Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk were the other nominees, marking the first time in league history that all three Hart nominees were Russian natives.

Ovechkin outdistanced Datsyuk and Malkin for both the Hart Trophy and the Pearson Award. Both Datsyuk and Malkin have won the trophy Ovechkin covets most of all: the Stanley Cup. Both players have been on the winning and losing sides in the Cup final in the last two seasons.

“It’s pretty important when people, players give you the [awards],” says Ovechkin. “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.”

Despite his team being ousted from the playoffs after the second round of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, Ovechkin finished fifth in league playoff scoring with 21 points and he was tied for fourth with 11 goals.

Making the awards more special were the presenters. Russian legends Vladimir Konstantinov and Igor Larionov presented Ovechkin with the Pearson Award and Caps teammate and former Hart Trophy winner Sergei Fedorov presented Ovechkin with the Hart Trophy.

Konstantinov’s career was cut short after a limousine accident days after his Red Wings team won the 1997 Stanley Cup.

“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,” says Ovechkin. “I am happy they give me the trophies and I will remember that all my life.”

Ovechkin joins fellow Russian Pavel Bure as the only player to win consecutive Maurice Richard Trophies. Bure did so in 2000 and 2001. He is the first player since Dominik Hasek in 1997-98 to claim consecutive Hart Trophies and the first forward to win successive Harts since Wayne Gretzky did so from 1980-87.

Nine of the 10 previous players to win consecutive Hart Trophies are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the tenth (Hasek) is a virtual lock to be inducted as soon as he is eligible. At the age of 23, Ovechkin is the second-youngest player to win consecutive Hart Trophies first Russian player to win multiple Hart Trophies.

Now that his 2008-09 season and hockey obligations are over, Ovechkin plans on some serious summer down time.

“Right now I just want to go on vacation,” he says. “I don’t want to think about Stanley Cups or [gold medals]. 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.”

For the first time in Washington’s franchise history, the Capitals have landed a pair of players on the NHL First All-Star Team. Ovechkin was named to the league’s First All-Star Team for the fourth time in his four seasons in the league. He joins Montreal goaltender Bill Durnan as the only other NHL player ever named to the league’s First All-Star team in each of his first four seasons in the circuit.

Green missed out on his bid to become the Capitals’ first Norris Trophy winner since Rod Langway in 1984, but Green is the first Capital to be a Norris runner-up since Scott Stevens in 1988.

Green is the third Caps defenseman ever to gain First Team All-Star honors, joining Langway and Stevens.

Other 2008-09 NHL Trophy winners:
Calder Trophy:
Steve Mason, Columbus. Mason joins Andrew Raycroft (2004) and Evgeni Nabokov (2001) as the third goaltender to win the Calder this season.

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit. Datsyuk’s Selke was his second in succession following two straight by Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour. Datsyuk is the fifth player in league history to win consecutive Selke Trophies.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Steve Sullivan, Nashville. Sullivan missed 687 days of action after a debilitating back injury that required two surgeries and an intensive workout regime to get him healthy enough to play again. Sullivan is just the third player in the league since World War II to play 150 games for a team, miss 600 days and return to the same club. The previous two are Mario Lemieux and Jim Peplinski.

William M. Jennings Trophy: Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, Boston. Thomas and Fernandez are the first Bruins to take home the Jennings since Rejean Lemelin and Andy Moog in 1990.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
Datsyuk, Detroit. Datsyuk won the Lady Byng for the fourth straight season. He is the first player to win the Lady Byng in consecutive seasons since Paul Kariya in 1996 and 1997. Datsyuk joins the New York Rangers’ Frank Boucher as the only other player in league history to win four straight Lady Byng Trophies. Boucher won it each year from 1928 to 1931.

King Clancy Trophy:
Ethan Moreau, Edmonton.

Scotiabank/NHL Fan Fav Award: Roberto Luongo, Vancouver. Luongo is the first ever winner of this Award.

Vezina Trophy: Thomas, Boston. Thomas is the first Boston goaltender to win the Vezina Trophy since Pete Peeters claimed it in 1983.

Jack Adams Award: Claude Julien, Boston. Ex-NHL coach Pat Burns presented the Award to Julien. Burns was the last Bruins coach to win the Adams, doing so in 1998.

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone: Jarome Iginla, Calgary.

Art Ross Trophy: (league’s leading scorer): Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
(In 2007-08, Ovechkin became the first Capital ever to win the Art Ross Trophy. This season, he becomes the first Cap ever to finish as the runner-up to the Art Ross Trophy.)

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