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Winning Hart would complete great trip

by Steven Stamkos

LAS VEGAS -- Another night in Vegas is behind me and it went well. We went to a nice dinner as a family and I played some blackjack with my dad.

That's my game when I'm in Vegas. I love blackjack, and my dad is very good at it, so he gives me tips and pointers all the time. It went well last night, but we always say we have to wait until the end of the trip to see what the damage is before we can form an opinion on how it all went.

Maybe at the end of this trip I'll be a Hart Trophy winner. I'm not sure, and I'm up against two really good players and competitors in Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Lundqvist, but I'm competitive and I want to win.

You don't know how many times you're going to get an opportunity to even be a finalist for something this big, and when you're there and you're that close you just want to get it done. People have asked me if I'm nervous and I swear I'm not, but I'm definitely anxious and I want to really enjoy this day and make some memories.

Stamkos blogs from NHL Awards

Lightning All-Star forward and Hart Trophy finalist Steven Stamkos shares his thoughts from the 2012 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

If I do win, I know I'll have to give some type of speech, but I've got nothing written down right now. That's not my style anyway. I'm more of a "wing it" guy because if I write something down I'll fumble with it, lose myself in my notes, and just bungle the entire thing. I'll do everything off the top of my head, but I know who I have to thank if I win.

I definitely would have to thank all my friends and family, certainly my parents. I'd have to give thanks to all of my teammates in Tampa. I couldn't forget Gary Roberts, Lorne Goldenberg and Tony Scott -- those are the guys that really help me off the ice. On the ice, Jari Byrski is a guy in Toronto that I have worked with since I was 8 years old and I still go to him in the summer.

And, of course, I'd probably give extra thanks to Marty St. Louis. He's a guy that has taken me under his wing since Day One and passed up a lot of opportunities to score to make sure I got one. I'd have to thank him.

But before we get to all of that, including the red carpet, which should be a blast, I have to head over to the Encore Theater here at the Wynn Las Vegas for rehearsal.

EA Sports is putting together a piece to unveil the new cover player for the NHL 13 game, and since I was the cover guy for NHL 12 they've asked me to take part in sort of passing the torch to either Claude Giroux or Pekka Rinne. It was such an honor for me to be on the cover this year, and it was a great year.

I know people talk about the cover curse, be it with Sports Illustrated or EA Sports' Madden football game, but in hockey it doesn't work that way. The year Patrick Kane was on the cover the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. When Jonathan Toews was on the cover he had a career year. I had a pretty good year this year as well and I was on the cover.

It's the opposite of the Madden curse, and I think guys are starting to get more excited about being on the cover.

Now, if I had my pick as to who should be on the cover, well, I'd have to go with Rinne. I'm not knocking Giroux here, but if the curse doesn't exist and guys that are on the cover do end up having career years, I'd certainly want that guy to be a goalie in the Western Conference who we may see once or twice a year, not a center in the Eastern Conference who I know we'll see four times a year and could be battling for playoff position with.

But hey, both of those guys are probably going to have career years anyway and they are well-deserving to be on the cover. I'm excited to pass the torch tonight.

Check back with me after the Awards are over. Who knows, maybe I'll have something great to write about.

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