Thornton, Lidstrom, Ovechkin win at NHL awards
Thornton, who beat out Jagr for the scoring title by two points, took the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP on Thursday with Jagr again relegated to runner-up.
"I was a big hockey fan so I would always watch these awards and Wayne [Gretzky] would always take it home and obviously Mario [Lemieux] and Mark [Messier] as well," Thornton said after accepting the award from Messier at the league's annual award ceremony. "It's just very humbling just knowing I'm going to be on the same page as these guys."
San Jose's star center already had the Art Ross Trophy tucked away as the league's top scorer, thanks to a 125-point regular season. Thornton won the MVP in a close vote of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, finishing with 1,058 points to Jagr's 974. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was a distant third with 561 votes.
Thornton, acquired by the Sharks from Boston in a trade on Nov. 30, led San Jose into the playoffs with 29 goals and 96 assists. He scored 20 goals and set up 72 others in 58 games with San Jose, lifting his team to the fifth seed in the Western Conference and helping linemate Jonathan Cheechoo win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leader with 56 goals.
"I just felt real comfortable," said Thornton, who appeared to be over any hard feelings towards Boston for trading him away.
"I'm just in a new place playing the same game I always played. I wish the Bruins all the best," he said.
Jagr, who won the Hart in 1999 with Pittsburgh, did win his third Lester B. Pearson Award as the players' choice for most outstanding player.
"With this award you get voted on by the players you play against every night and I think they understand the game better than the media," Jagr said.
With 54 goals and 69 assists -- both Rangers records -- Jagr carried New York to its first postseason appearance since 1997.
Kiprusoff won his first Vezina Trophy as top NHL goaltender, ending Martin Brodeur's run at two in a row.
Kiprusoff finished runner-up to Brodeur last year and trailed the Devils' goalie by one for the league lead in wins this season, but the Finnish goalie was at or near the top of the NHL in every other statistical category.
Kiprusoff, who skipped the award ceremony to stay in Finland, was tops in goals-against average (2.02) and shutouts (10) and third in save percentage (.923).
Washington Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin beat out fellow freshman scoring sensation Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and hard-hitting Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf for the Calder Memorial Trophy as top NHL rookie.
The 20-year-old Ovechkin led all rookies with 106 points -- many of the spectacular variety -- while becoming just the second rookie in NHL history to score 50 goals and 100 points after Teemu Selanne did it in 1992-93. He was third in the league overall in goals and points.
"The NHL is the best league in the world so to win he Calder means a lot," Ovechkin said in his thick Russian accent.
Crosby, 18, wasn't far behind with 39 goals and 102 points, becoming the youngest player to record 100 points in a season. The first overall pick in the 2005 draft, Crosby recorded 22 points in his final 10 games to finish sixth overall in league scoring.
"It's special, but I'm not going to say any more than the other three," Lidstrom said. "After the season I had before the lockout I wanted to come back and have a strong season."
After losing out to Carolina's Peter Laviolette in the Eastern Conference final in Game 7, Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff edged out the Hurricanes' bench boss by a single vote for his first Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
"I'd trade him the point for that big silver cup he has over there," Ruff said.
Ruff led the Sabres to a 52-24-6 record and 110 points -- both franchise records -- a 25-point improvement over their performance in 2003-04.
Rangers coach Tom Renney finished third.
Three days after accepting the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour accepted the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward.
A first-time finalist for the award, Brind'Amour led all NHL forwards in ice time, playing 24:17 a game, and faceoffs taken (2,145), finishing third with a 59.1 win percentage. He beat out Dallas' Jere Lehtinen, a three-time winner, and Ottawa's Mike Fischer.
Detroit's Pavel Datysuk won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship, beating out San Jose's Patrick Marleau and Tampa Bay's Brad Richards after receiving just 22 penalty minutes while leading the Red Wings in scoring with a career-high 87 points.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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