Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin
and defenseman Mike Green
are both in the desert this week. Ovechkin and Green have arrived in Las Vegas, where they hope to be hauling in some precious and prestigious NHL hardware Thursday night.
The scene of the annual NHL Awards Show has shifted to Las Vegas – the self-proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the World – for 2009. Less than a week after the 2008-09 NHL season concluded on the ice with Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup final triumph over Detroit, league luminaries convene under the bright lights in Vegas for Thursday night’s Awards Show.
Usually held in Toronto, the Awards Show has moved west this year and will take place at the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Ovechkin is no stranger to the Awards Show stage. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2006. The Awards Show was held in Vancouver that year. Ovechkin had a record-setting take last June when he came back to the District with the Maurice Richard Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award. Ovechkin became the first player in league history to earn each of those four major awards in the same season.
Ovechkin will be awarded a second straight Richard Trophy on Thursday. He is the runner-up for the 2009 Art Ross Trophy, but he is once gain a finalist for the Hart Trophy and the Pearson Award. He has already been named The Sporting News Player of the Year in a vote of his peers.
The Capitals’ superstar left wing is also seeking a fourth straight berth on the league’s First All-Star Team. If Ovechkin is named as the NHL’s First All-Star left wing, he will join former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Bill Durnan as the only player in NHL history to earn First Team honors in each of his first four NHL seasons.
Ovechkin is vying to become the first player to claim consecutive Hart Trophies on more than a decade. Buffalo’s Dominik Hasek won the Hart in 1997 and 1998. Ovechkin could become the first forward to win back-to-back Hart Trophies since Wayne Gretzky laid claim to the award from 1980-87. Ovechkin is aiming to become the 11th player in league history to win multiple Hart Trophies.
Green is a newcomer to the NHL Awards stage, but a worthy one. The first NHL blueliner to score 30 or more goals in a season in more than a decade and a half and just the eighth rearguard ever to reach that lofty perch, Green is a nominee for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman.
If Ovechkin is able to claim the Hart and Green wins the Norris, the Caps will be the first team since the 1991-92 New York Rangers to have two players claim those two trophies. The Rangers’ Mark Messier won the Hart and Blueshirt blueliner Brian Leetch too the Norris that season. The St. Louis Blues’ Chris Pronger won both awards in 1999-00.
If Ovechkin and Green win the Hart and Norris, respectively, it will mark the first time since 1990 that players from the same draft class have claimed those two awards. Messier won the Hart and Raymond Bourque won the Norris in 1990. It would mark just the second time in league history that two players from the same team and the same draft class won both the Hart and Norris Trophies. Montreal’s Guy Lafleur won the Hart and the Canadiens’ Larry Robinson the Norris in 1977. Lafleur and Robinson were both products of the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft.
The Capitals have never had more than one player named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team in the same season. Green is seeking to join Rod Langway and Scott Stevens as the only Caps defensemen ever to be named to the First All-Star Team. Langway is the only other Washington defenseman to win a Norris Trophy; he won the award in 1983 and 1984.