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Jagr is fellow players' choice for league MVP

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The Rangers' 2005-06 season gained a final highlight on Thursday night at the 2006 NHL Awards Show in Vancouver, as the gala event brought the Blueshirts their first postseason NHL award since Adam Graves won the Masterton Trophy in 2000-01.

Right wing Jaromir Jagr captured the 2005-06 Lester B. Pearson Award, which goes to the outstanding NHL player as chosen by his peers. He also finished second to San Jose's Joe Thornton in the voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the media's choice for NHL MVP.

Thornton edged Jagr in the Hart Trophy race by collecting 67 first-place votes and 1,058 total points. Jagr received 48 first-place votes and 974 points. A total of 129 members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association voted for the award, and Jagr earned at least a third-place vote on 127 of those ballots.

The Pearson Award, the first award handed out on Thursday, was presented to Jagr by Hall of Famer and former Rangers star Wayne Gretzky. Voted on annually by the National Hockey League Players Association, it had gone to Jagr twice before, in 1999 and 2000.

"It's a totally justified selection," said Rangers head coach Tom Renney, expressing pride in Jagr's achievement. "The most important thing about it, as has been alluded to in the past, is that it's voted on by your peers and clearly the people around the league that play against this guy recognize his value to the team."

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who won the Garden Faithful's hearts as a rookie, finished third in the voting for the Vezina Trophy behind Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur. Kiprusoff dominated the voting for the award that honors the NHL's outstanding netminder, collecting 25 of 30 possible first-place votes

Although he didn't capture the Vezina, Lundqvist was honored with selection to the goaltender position on the NHL's All-Rookie team. That made him the first Rangers player to make an All-Rookie team since Dan Blackburn in 2001-02. Lundqvist, who went 21-6-4 at the Garden in 2005-06, was also the first rookie to be a Vezina finalist since the 1995 season.

Renney was nominated for the the Jack Adams Award as the league's coach of the year, but that honor went to Buffalo's Lindy Ruff. Renney finished third in the Adams voting behind Ruff and Carolina's Peter Laviolette. Ruff edged Laviolette by one point (155-154) in the closest Adams race since the award was first presented in 1974. Both men received 20 first-place votes. Renney, who garnered 13 first-place votes, was close behind with 127 points.

In yet another honor announced before the ceremony, Jagr was named to the right wing position on the NHL's First All-Star Team. Joining him on the All-Star team are Thornton at center, Washington's Alexander Ovechkin at left wing, Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer on defense, and Kiprusoff in goal.

Jagr became the first Rangers player to make the NHL First All-Star Team since Brian Leetch in 1996-97.

"Jaromir's an exceptional player and very, very good for our league," said Renney. "Of course, the New York Rangers are very fortunate to have him, and I think we're all proud to be associated with him on a daily basis."

The All-Rookie team features Lundqvist, defensemen Andrej Meszarros of Ottawa and Dion Phaneuf of Calgary, and forwards Brad Boyes of Boston, Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh and Calder Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin of Washington, the league's rookie of the year.

All voting for the NHL awards and All-Star teams was conducted before the 2006 playoffs began. The Professional Hockey Writers' Association voted for five trophies (Hart, Norris, Selke, Calder and Lady Byng) and the All-Star teams, while the NHL Broadcasters' Association selected the Jack Adams Award recipient, and NHL general managers voted on the Vezina.

Award winners on Thursday were:

LESTER B. PEARSON AWARD (most outstanding player as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA): Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers

LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct): Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

JACK ADAMS AWARD (outstanding coach): Lindy Ruff, Buffalo Sabres.

VEZINA TROPHY (outstanding goaltender): Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames

JENNINGS TROPHY (lowest goals-against average in regular season): Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames

MASTERTON TROPHY (perseverance): Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Mighty Ducks

KING CLANCY TROPHY (humanitarian efforts): Olaf Kolzig, Washington Capitals

ART ROSS TROPHY (most points in regular season): Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

MAURICE RICHARD TROPHY (most goals in regular season): Jonathan Cheechoo, San Jose Sharks

FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY (outstanding defensive forward): Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes

JAMES NORRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings

CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding rookie): Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

HART MEMORIAL TROPHY (most valuable player to his team): Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks.
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