Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Therrien among finalists for NHL awards
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Center Sidney Crosby moved a step closer to becoming the third player in Penguins history to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player when he was named a finalist for the award yesterday.
Crosby also is a finalist for the Lester B. Pearson Award, which goes to the NHL's top player as voted by the players.
The Penguins permeated the list of finalists. Forwards Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal are finalists for the Calder Trophy, honoring the league's top rookie. Michel Therrien is up for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year.
Winners will be announced June 14 in Toronto.
Crosby, 19, became the youngest athlete to win a scoring championship in major sports history, wrapping up the Art Ross Trophy with 120 points. He will receive that award at a luncheon during the Stanley Cup playoff final.
He is the youngest Hart Trophy finalist since Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky won his first at 19 in 1979-80.
Hall of Fame center, Penguins co-owner and Crosby landlord Mario Lemieux won the Hart three times (1988, 1993, 1996) and winger Jaromir Jagr won it in 1999 while with the Penguins. Lemieux won the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1986, 1988, 1993 and 1996. Jagr won it in 1999 and 2000.
The other Hart finalists are goaltenders Martin Brodeur of New Jersey and Roberto Luongo of Vancouver. In the past 50 years, a goaltender has won the Hart four times.
Malkin, 20, and Staal, 18, are two of the three Calder finalists. The other is Paul Stastny of Colorado.
Malkin could become the second Russian player in a row to win. Washington's Alex Ovechkin beat out Crosby last season for the Calder and predicted Malkin would succeed him.
Malkin, playing left wing as well as his natural position of center, led all rookies in goals (33), assists (52), points (85) and power-play goals (16) and was 18th overall in NHL scoring.
He was the second overall pick in the 2004 draft behind Ovechkin but was delayed in joining the Penguins because of contractual issues with his Russian Super League team, Metallurg, in his hometown of Magnitogorsk. He slipped away from that team under trying circumstances last summer and signed with the Penguins.
Malkin became the first NHL player in 89 years to get at least one goal in each of his first six games.
Staal, the second overall choice in the 2006 draft, was something of a long shot to stick with the Penguins all season, but he ended up leading the league with seven shorthanded goals (a rookie record) and a 22.1 shooting percent while also switching between center and winger.
He had 29 goals, led the Penguins and was tied for second among all rookies with a plus-minus rating of plus-16 and became the youngest NHL player to get a hat trick when he scored three goals against his childhood favorite team, Toronto, Feb. 10.
Lemieux, in 1985, is the only Calder Trophy winner in Penguins history.
Therrien, 43, was promoted from the Penguins' minor-league club in December 2005. In his first full season, he guided the team to 47 wins, 105 points and a berth in the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The team's 47-point improvement over 2005-06 was the fourth-best turnaround in NHL history.
The other Jack Adams Award finalists are Lindy Ruff of Buffalo and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault.
No Penguins coach has won the Jack Adams Award.
Two other trophies will be awarded June 14. The Bill Masterton Trophy goes to the player who best shows perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication. The King Clancy Trophy goes to the player who shows the best leadership and humanitarian contribution to his community.
Voting was conducted at the conclusion of the regular season by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, NHL general managers and the NHL Broadcasters' Association.
NOTES -- Rick Curran, who represents Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts, said he has "had a couple of conversations with [Penguins general manager] Ray Shero" about the two veteran wingers re-signing. Both are unrestricted free agents. "The team has expressed an interest in having them back, and both players have expressed an interest in coming back," Curran said. Shero, part of USA Hockey's national team advisory group, is in Moscow at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships but said before he left that he might work on deals for Recchi and Roberts while he was traveling.Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Sidney Crosby is a finalist with goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.
Click photo for larger image.
First Published May 1, 2007 11:23 pm