The annual NHL Awards ceremony is the red carpet finale to the NHL’s season and all three Sharks players in attendance were honored for their seasons just by being invited to the show. Thornton stole the headlines by taking the MVP Trophy, but it was also a night for Cheechoo and Lady Bing finalist Patrick Marleau
Thornton was awarded the Hart Trophy, along with the Art Ross Trophy for leading the NHL in points, and Jonathan Cheechoo was presented the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for topping all NHL goal scorers.
Cheechoo’s award was earned two months ago, but being on stage officially put him in a different level.
“It was pretty special,” said Cheechoo. “You don’t get a chance to do that too often. It’s pretty surreal to be mentioned in the same sentence with those players (like Richard), but it is nice to hear to the mention.”
Click here to view the acceptance speeches.
When the Ross and Richard Trophies were awarded, Cheechoo and Thornton accepted on stage together.
“It was neat the way we both accepted it at the same time,” said Cheechoo. “We played beside each other most of the year. The pressure was off me with him up there.”
Cheechoo was happy to thank the people who helped him reach the elite level, and with Moose Factory, Ontario native, that includes not just his parents, but his entire hometown.
“I’ve mentioned everyone back home a lot in the papers, but a lot were watching in Canada,” said Cheechoo. “They helped me out and they supported me. I’ll never forget that and I’m glad to mention them.”
Cheechoo also enjoyed being around the NHL’s best.
“It is pretty amazing seeing your peers out here and then passing some of the biggest names,” said Cheechoo. “I got to meet Messier and I walked by Gretzky. My favorite goaltender, Richard Brodeur (N.Y. Islanders, Vancouver, Hartford) is here. Hopefully I’ll get to meet him tonight.”
As for additional awards, Pearson Finalist (NHLPA selection) Thornton and Lady Bing finalist Marleau fell short of capturing the hardware, but could take solace in being in the top three of more than 700 NHL players.
Sharks netminding guru, Warren Strelow, received a nice nod when Vezina Trophy winner Miikka Kirprusoff sent word that a big part of his success and winning the award was due to the man nicknamed the “Doc.”
“(Evgeni) Nabokov called me and asked if I heard it,” said Strelow. The fact that Nabokov called right away shows the feelings all netminders who have come through the Sharks organization feel for Strelow.
A complete list of winners on the evening includes:
Hart Trophy (most valuable player) – Joe Thornton
Art Ross (NHL points leader) – Joe Thornton
Maurice “Rocket” Richard (NHL goal leader) – Jonathan Cheechoo
Norris Trophy (best defenseman) – Nicklas Lidstrom
Lady Bing Trophy (most gentlemanly) – Pavel Datsyuk
Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) – Rod Brind’Amour
Jack Adams Award (best coach) – Lindy Ruff
Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) – Alexander Ovechkin
Lester Pearson – Jaromir Jagr
Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) – Miikka Kiprusoff
King Clancy (leadership)– Olaf Kolzig
Masterton Trophy (sportsmanship and dedication) – Teemu Selanne