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Rangers have three finalists for NHL awards

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

· Jagr to have shoulder surgery on Monday

Three members of the 2005-06 Rangers team were honored by the NHL on Thursday as finalists for major postseason awards.

Right wing Jaromir Jagr, who set team single-season records for goals (54) and points (123), is among three finalists for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP. Voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, the award goes to "the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team. Jagr is one of three finalists for the Hart, along with San Jose's Joe Thornton and Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff

The prestigious Hart nomination is the sixth in Jagr's 15-year career. He won the award in 1998-99 and was runner-up to Chris Pronger in 2000, Dominik Hasek in 1998 and Eric Lindros in 1995. Jagr is also a finalist for this year's Lester B. Pearson Award, which goes to the outstanding NHL player as chosen by his peers.

Rangers rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's season was also recognized on Thursday with a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the "goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position." The Vezina is voted on by the 30 NHL general managers. Lundqvist was nominated along with fellow finalists Kiprusoff and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.

Lundqvist set the Rangers rookie record of 30 victories in 2005-06, breaking a mark first established by "Sugar" Jim Henry in 1941-42 and later tied by Hall of Famer Johnny Bower. Lundqvist was also among the league leaders in goals-against average, finishing fifth at 2.24, and save percentage, finishing fourth at .922.

Head coach Tom Renney is the third Rangers finalist for an award, as he is one of three coaches in the running for the Jack Adams Award. Voted on by the NHL Broadcaster' Association, the Adams goes to the "NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success."

In his first full season as the Rangers' head coach, Renney led the Blueshirts to their best finish since the 1993-94 Stanley Cup championship season. The team's 44 wins and 100 points were the sixth-best showing in franchise history.

Should Renney outpoll co-finalists Peter Laviolette of Carolina and Lindy Ruff of Buffalo, he would become the first Rangers coach to win the Adams Award since it was first presented in 1974. Two previous Rangers coaches, Fred Shero in 1978-79 and Roger Neilson in 1991-92, were runners-up in the Adams voting.

Jagr, meanwhile, has a chance to become the fifth Rangers' Hart Trophy winner and the first since Mark Messier in 1991-92. The other Rangers who have won the Hart are Andy Bathgate in 1958-59, Chuck Rayner in 1949-50 and Buddy O'Connor in 1947-48

Lundqvist's candidacy for the Vezina could make him the first Rangers winner of that award since John Vanbiesbrouck's remarkable 1985-86 season brought him the honor. Prior to the 1981-82 season, the Vezina was given to goaltenders on the team that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season. Under that format, the only Rangers to win the award were Ed Giacomin and Gilles Villemure in 1970-71 and Dave Kerr in 1939-40.

Winners will be announced on June 22 during the 2006 NHL Awards Television Special in Vancouver. All awards are based on regular-season performance only.

Following are the finalists for each trophy, in alphabetical order:

CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding rookie): Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins; Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames.

FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY (outstanding defensive forward): Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes; Mike Fisher, Ottawa Senators; Jere Lehtinen, Dallas Stars.

HART MEMORIAL TROPHY (most valuable player to his team): Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers; Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames; Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks.

ACK ADAMS AWARD (outstanding coach): Peter Laviolette, Carolina Hurricanes; Tom Renney, New York Rangers; Lindy Ruff, Buffalo Sabres.

JAMES NORRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings; Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Mighty Ducks; Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars.

LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct): Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks; Brad Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning.

LESTER B. PEARSON AWARD (most outstanding player as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA): Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers; Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks.

VEZINA TROPHY (outstanding goaltender): Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils; Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames; Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers.
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