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Thornton Shows His Hart - Sharks Presence Felt At 2006 NHL Awards Show

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks players Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and captain Patrick Marleau were all on hand in Vancouver, B.C. for the National Hockey League’s Awards Show. The ceremony, which took place on June 22, was hosted at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.
As a result of their performances this past season, Thornton and Cheechoo were already assured of taking home two of the evening’s biggest prizes. Thornton, as “the player who leads the League in scoring points at the end of the regular season,” was the 2006 winner of the Art Ross Trophy. Cheechoo, who led the League with 56 goals, received the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, named after the Montreal Canadiens great who was the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season and 500 for his career.
Thornton took home the most prestigious award as the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team” as voted by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
"It's been a crazy year," Thornton acknowledged.  "You definitely have to be around the right kind of people. Everybody just accepted me from Day One. I truly love playing in San Jose."
Thornton was also nominated for the Lester B. Pearson Award, presented to “the NHL’s most outstanding player” as selected by the members of the National Hockey League’s Players Association, but New York Rangers center Jaromir Jagr was voted the winner.
Thornton, who led the League with 125 points (29 goals, 96 assists) in 81 games this season, became the first member of the Sharks to win the Art Ross and the Hart Memorial Trophies. After being acquired by the Sharks on Nov. 30, he posted 92 points (second in franchise history) and 72 assists (a franchise record) in helping the Sharks to a 36-15-7 record in his 58 games with the team. With 96 assists, the 16th most in NHL history, Thornton became just the 11th player to surpass 90 assists in a single season. His 125 points make him the most-prolific scorer in the history of NHL by a player who played for two teams in one season.
In proper fashion, Cheechoo accepted the Richard Trophy standing next his Art Ross-winning linemate, symbolic of the relationship they had on the ice following Thornton’s arrival in late November.
"It was nice to be up there beside him," said Cheechoo.  "It takes a little bit of the pressure off.  You don't get to have something like this happen very often. I never imagined it would happen to me."
The Lady Byng Trophy is presented to “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability,” as voted by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Marleau, who set a career marks for points (86), goals (34), assists (52) and power play goals (20) in 82 games while accumulating only 26 penalty minutes, was one of three finalists for the award but he and fellow nominee Brad Richards were bested by Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, who took home the prize.
With their accomplishments, Thornton, Cheechoo and Marleau will all add their names to the previous Sharks NHL Awards Winners and Finalists.
Evgeni Nabokov, 2001
BILL MASTERTON MEMORIAL TROPHY (perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey)
Tony Granato, 1997
Ron Wilson, 2004 (second)
Kevin Constantine, 1994 (second)
Brad Stuart, 2000 (second)
FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY (top defensive forward)
Alyn McCauley, 2004 (third)
Mike Ricci, 2004 (third)
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