Friday, June 13, 2008

Few surprises as NHL hands out season ending hardware

Considering the NHL store had already started selling T shirts for one of the night's winners a few nights ago, there was little in the way of surprise or drama when the NHL gathered to honour success in Toronto on Thursday night.

Alexander Ovechkin, a fashion star in the T shirt world now and perhaps the most exuberant player in the NHL, added to his already large collection of trophies for 2007-07, Ovechkin claimed as expected the Hart Trophy as most valuable player for the year, an accolade that was unexpectedly made public through the NHL stores website last week. He also picked up the Lester B. Pearson Award for most outstanding player, a particularly high honour coming as it does through player voting.

Thursday nights double dip, adds to the Ovechkin legacy for this year, set to share space with the Art Ross Trophy for his league-high 112 points and the Maurice Richard trophy for his profligate abiltiy to score goals, registering 65 this year.

When Ovechkin wasn't making a speech (or selling more T shirts) the night was dedicated to a guy named Datsyuk, as the Red Wings Pavel was awarded the Selke trophy for his legendary defensive play as a forward, he also completed a three peat when it comes to the Lady Byng, winning his third consecutive reward for Gentlemanly conduct, thanks to his remarkably low level of time in the penalty box of just twenty minutes, one full period of an 82 game season.

The Red Wings also found success on the blue line, as captain Niklas Lidstrom closed in on Doug Harvey and Bobby Orr for Norris trophy victories, picking up his sixth, leaving him one behind Harvey and two behind number four.

The feel good story of the year came true for Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau, who was toiling in the minor leagues at the start of 2007-08 and by the end of the season had taken the Washington Capitals farther than they have gone in a long time and offered up much progress of more to come. For his remarkable run, Boudreau was awarded the Jack Adams trophy.

A familiar name claimed the Vezina trophy as Martin Brodeur collected his fourth Vezina in five years, a particularly well earned award this year considering the style of play that his Devils provided through the year.

Chicago's Patrick Kane provided a glimmer of hope for Chi Hawk fans this season and for his efforts he was named rookie of the year and earned himself the Calder Trophy, Chicago actually had a pretty good chance of taking this one, Kane's competition was fellow Black Hawk Jonathon Toews, while Washington's Nicklas Backstrom made a late season surge for consideration.

All around good guy Vinny Lecavalier was named the winner of the King Clancy award for his humanitarian spirit and contributions.

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was awarded to Jason Blake, who personified courage in the shadow of life's challenges, playing as he did for the entire season after being diagnosed with leukemia, not missing a single game that the Leafs played this year.

And as though to complete the Celebration for the Motor city this year, Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the first year that this award has been presented.

It in a way is fitting that Mr. Hockey would be the first recipient, a reminder for all of those legendary past contributions, just as his former team celebrates the present and looks forward to its future.

Globe and Mail-- Ovechkin the valuable

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