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MVP race highlights NHL Awards Show

by Shawn P. Roarke
LAS VEGAS  – A star-studded race for the League MVP and a compelling changing of the guard among the NHL's elite defensemen highlight Wednesday's 2010 NHL Awards Show.

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin -- the faces of the NHL -- are joined by Vancouver's Henrik Sedin on the ballot for both the Hart Trophy as the player most valuable to his team and the Ted Lindsay Award, which is the League MVP as voted by the players.

"I'll take both," Ovechkin said when asked which of the two trophies he preferred to win in Wednesday's ceremony from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel.

Ovechkin has won the Hart in each of the past two years. He is also the reigning holder of back-to-back Lester Pearson Awards. The Pearson was renamed this season to the Ted Lindsay Award to honor the Red Wings great.

A clean sweep in the MVP race, however, will be a very tall task because of the level of competition.

"At the end of the day, that's three good seasons there and the way it ends up is the way it ends up," said Crosby, who won the Award in 2007.

We'll find out who wins each of the MVP races during the 90-minute show, which will be shown live on Versus at 7:30 p.m. ET. CBC will have the awards program on a tape-delay basis, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, will have a live stream of the red carpet festivities, which will feature interviews with many of the players in contention for the various NHL Awards. The red-carpet show will also feature interviews with many of the celebrities on hand for what promises to be a star-studded affair.

The Goo Goo Dolls, Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg, CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos, Florida rockers Shinedown, Grammy Award-nominated rapper Snoop Dogg, the world famous Cirque du Soleil, drummer/music producer Travis Barker are among the celebrities scheduled to appear or perform.

While stars from the screen and stage will generate some buzz, it is the players that will own Wednesday night and none more so than the MVP field.

Crosby is excited to see how it all plays out Wednesday night.

He wonders if his 51 goals, tied with Steven Stamkos for the League lead, and leadership of a Penguins team that battled injuries and a Stanley Cup hangover all season will be enough to tip the scales in his favor.

Or will Sedin, the relative unknown, vault himself into the superstar stratosphere with an upset win after leading the League with a 112-point season?

"I don't know what to say, it's almost a surreal feeling for me to be here at this age and all we have been through," Sedin said. "I don't know; we'll see what happens tomorrow. I'm just happy to be here. Those guys are the face of the sport. I love watching them when they are on TV. I think for me after my career, when I talk to my grandkids, I don't think they will believe I even played against them."

Or will the status quo hold as Ovechkin makes it a running hat trick of MVP Awards.

While there is a chance for a repeat winner in the MVP race, there will be a new best defenseman in the League.

None of the three candidates -- Chicago's Duncan Keith, Washington's Mike Green and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings – has ever won the Norris Trophy. Only Green has even been previously nominated for the award, losing to Boston's Zdeno Chara last year.

Chara was not nominated this season, nor was veteran Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who had won in six of the previous seven seasons. Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer, who won the one Norris that kept Lidstrom from a run of seven-straight best-defenseman trophies, retired earlier Wednesday.

In fact, this trio of young defenseman -- Keith is the elder statesman at 26 -- suggests a changing of the guard when it comes to defensemen in the NHL. Each is a young, strong skating, offensively dynamic defender.

"You look at the guys, they all had 15 goals or more and they are all guys that get up the ice and produce and maybe that hasn't been the case in the past Norris nominations," Green said. "It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. I'm excited about it. "
"We'll see what happens tomorrow. I'm just happy to be here. Those guys are the face of the sport. I love watching them when they are on TV. I think for me after my career, when I talk to my grandkids, I don't think they will believe I even played against them." -- Henrik Sedin on Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby

Wednesday should be an exciting night here in the Nevada desert as the League hands out its 14 trophies designed to celebrate individual brilliance.

Henrik Sedin will take the Art Ross Trophy as the League's top scorer, while Crosby and Stamkos will Share the Maurice Richard Trophy as the League's top goal-getters. New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, will receive the William Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goalie on the team that surrenders the fewest goals in the NHL's regular season.

Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes join Brodeur in the field for the best goaltender. Colorado's Matt Duchene, Detroit's Timmy Howard and Buffalo's Tyler Myers will vie for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the League's best rookie.

Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal are in contention for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. Datsyuk joins Brad Richards of Dallas and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis in the battle for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded to the most gentlemanly player.

Nashville's Barry Trotz, Colorado's Joe Sacco and Dave Tippett of Phoenix are the candidates for the Jack Adams Award, given to the League's outstanding coach.

Tampa Bay's Kurtis Foster, San Jose's Jed Ortmeyer and Washington's Jose Theodore are vying for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player that best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, while Buffalo's Miller, Washington's Green and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings are in the field for the NHL Foundation Player Award for charitable and humanitarian work.

Finally, Crosby, Miller and Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes are in the running for the Mark Messier Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone to "a superior leader in hockey and a contributing member of society."

"Just to be here, to be nominated and see guys be recognized for their great seasons, I think that is special and should be celebrated," Crosby said. "That's the fun part to see guys recognized."

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