Ovechkin honored to be among Hart nominees
When he won the Rocket Richard Trophy with a league-leading 32 goals two weeks ago Alex Ovechkin was asked if he has enough room on his shelf for another trophy.
“I just moved into a new house,” he said with a smile, “so there’s lots of room there.”
Room enough for a third Hart Trophy to go along with the ones he won in 2008 and 2009?
Ovechkin was named a finalist for the award on Friday, along with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Islanders alternate captain John Tavares.
“It’s nice,” Ovechkin said after Friday’s morning skate. “I’m sure I’m going to have time to celebrate later, but right now it’s all about business and focus on the game.”
True enough. All three Hart finalists are in the midst of heated playoff series, with Crosby and Tavares locking horns in one series and Ovechkin trying to get the Caps past the Rangers in Round 1.
But while Tavares had an admirable season with 47 points in 48 games, this race will come down to Crosby and Ovechkin.
Really, it comes down to whether voters think a player should be punished for missing a quarter of the season with a broken jaw. A few weeks ago Caps coach Adam Oates was asked if the Hsrt Trophy should go to the league’s best player or the most valuable player to his team.
“A little of both,” he said, adding that the number of games played by a player should also come under consideration. Oates is biased, of course.
When he became coach of the Capitals last summer Oates asked Ovechkin to move from left wing to right wing. The experiment did not go as planned, with Ovechkin scoring just nine goals in his first 25 games and returning to the left side with little success for three games.
After reuniting Ovechkin with center Nicklas Backstrom, then adding Marcus Johansson, Ovechkin’s season took off like a bat out of hell. He recorded 23 goals in his final 23 games to win the goal-scoring race with 32 goals and finish third in points with 56.
In the process, Ovechkin helped pull the Capitals from an 0-8-1 start to win the Southeast Division.
“I’m happy for him,” Oates said. “You saw how he carried our team and helped us go in the right direction.”
Ovechkin said it would be “big” to win a third Hart Trophy, but his quest is for a much heavier piece of hardware. Despite 55 career playoff games, Ovechkin has never made it to the third round of the playoffs.
“It was a hard year, a hard season for all of us,” Ovechkin said. “I’m happy to be in the competition [for the Hart]. I just want to win. It doesn’t matter if I’m going to score or not. Playoffs is not about scoring or beautiful plays. It’s all about winning. Of course I want to score, but the most important thing is I want to win.”
The Hart will be awarded during the Stanley Cup Finals.