Capitals player, coach honored
TORONTO ó You can call Alex Ovechkin NHL MVP. What the Washington Capitals young star really wants is to be known as Stanley Cup champion.
Ovechkin capped off a special season Thursday night by capturing the NHLís two most prestigious individual awards. He won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the playersí choice for the most outstanding player.
iI think Iím the happiest 22-year-old guy on the planet,î Ovechkin said. iI want to win everything, so next year maybe the Stanley Cup.î
The trophy haul already included the Rocket Richard Trophy with a league-best 65 goals and the Art Ross Trophy with 112 points.
iNext year I think we will be much better, and I canít wait to see it start,î he said. iWe love what weíre doing. We never give up, we believe in each other, we believe in the coach, we believe in everybody.
iOnly when you believe do you win the Stanley Cup.î
Ovechkin, the first player to score 60 goals since Mario Lemieux in 1996, earned 128 of 134 first-place Hart votes from the Professional Hockey Writersí Association.
He joined Sergei Fedorov (1994) as the only Russian-born players to win the Hart and Pearson.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, hired after Washingtonís woeful start, earned the Jack Adams Award as the NHLís top bench boss. The only damper in the nationís capital came when Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was edged by Chicagoís Patrick Kane for rookie of the year.
Boudreau, who led the Capitals to the Southeast Division title, beat Mike Babcock of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens.
The 53-year-old Boudreau took over a team that was last in the Eastern Conference and led them to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Capitals let Glen Hanlon go after the team got off to its slowest start in 26 years and hired Boudreau on an interim basis.
Washington went 37-17-7 after Boudreau was hired on Nov. 22.
Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins were the other finalists for both the Hart and Pearson. But the night, and the year, belonged to Ovechkin.
iSixty-five goals, leading scorer in the league, and their team made the playoffs,î Iginla said. iThey turned it around pretty amazingly.î
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