LAS VEGAS â€” It seems that Alex Ovechkin just canâ€™t lose here in this desert oasis.
After reporting Thursday afternoon that he was up by $500 at the blackjack tables, Ovechkin came to the NHL Awards Show and hauled in both the Leagueâ€™s MVP awards â€” the Hart Trophy, awarded by the writers, and the Lester B. Pearson Trophy, voted on by his fellow players.
â€œLosingâ€™s not for me,â€ the Washington star said before the results were even announced.
Ovechkin dedicated the Pearson Trophy to the memory of his grandfather, who died during the season.
Itâ€™s the second-straight year Ovechkin made a clean sweep of the MVP hardware. Ovechkin also won the Maurice Richard Trophy for the second-straight season â€” his 56 goals were 10 better than anyone else in the League.
In both 2009 races, he beat out the two other top Russian players in the game today â€” Pittsburghâ€™s Evgeni Malkin and Detroitâ€™s Pavel Datsyuk, who won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the second-straight season and the Lady Byng Trophy for the fourth-straight time.
Ovechkin accepted the Pearson Award from Russian legends Vladimir Konstantinov and Igor Larionov. Konstantinov was paralyzed in an auto accident after winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1997, but walked to the podium with the aid of a walker in one of the highlights of the night.
â€œIâ€™m proud of my country,â€ Ovechkin said. â€œItâ€™s always nice to be No. 1.â€
Ovechkin certainly earned the right to be No. 1 in the NHL during the 2008-09 season. He led the League with his 56 goals, his 110 points were second to Malkin and his 528 shots lapped the rest of the field.
Malkin didnâ€™t go home empty-handed. He went home with the Art Ross Trophy as the Leagueâ€™s top regular-season scorer. More important, he also lugged the Stanley Cup up on the Palms Concert Theater stage, once again reminding everyone that his Penguins are the NHL champions. Pittsburgh knocked off the then-defending champion Detroit Red Wings last Friday in a memorable Game 7.
â€œItâ€™s fine, itâ€™s OK, I win the Stanley Cup,â€ Malkin said even before the votes were announced. Iâ€™m not thinking about MVP, I won Stanley Cup, so Iâ€™m happy.â€
Malkin, who also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, will have a hard time holding onto that Stanley Cup if Ovechkin has his way, judging by his remarks after accepting the Hart Trophy from Sergei Fedorov.
â€œNext year, I hope Stanley Cup will be ours,â€ he said to the sold-out crowd before walking off into the Vegas night.