Ovechkin: Wish I were in Sid's skates
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Ten days after winning the World Hockey Championships with his native Russia team, the Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin was in town yesterday to pick up some hardware from the National Hockey League.
Ovechkin won the Art Ross Trophy and the Rocket Richard Trophy for scoring the most points and most goals in the NHL regular season. He happily accepted the trophies, even taking time to snap off a few photographs on his cell-phone camera, but there is one trophy he covets most.
"It was a good year," he said. "When I win the Stanley Cup, I'll say it's my best year."
Ovechkin and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby are the two stars around whom the NHL is building its marketing campaign, and the two have developed a healthy rivalry from their competitive games in the Eastern Conference the past few years. Ovechkin said he is envious of Crosby, who is competing in his first Stanley Cup final in only his third season in the league.
"I'm a little bit jealous," Ovechkin said. "He's a great player. They're a great team. Last year, they lost their first playoff series in five games. And he's here right now. I hope next year we'll be the same way."
The NHL presented three other awards yesterday at a luncheon at the Omni William Penn. Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks and Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning shared the NHL Foundation Award recognizing their work with children's charities. Mats Sundin won the Mark Messier Leadership Award. And Detroit Red Wings goaltenders Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek won the William Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltenders who allow the fewest goals in the regular season. Detroit general manager Ken Holland accepted the trophy on their behalf.
In an interview afterward, Messier said the Penguins remind him of the 1983 Edmonton Oilers team of which he was a part. That team, which featured Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and a slew of other young stars, lost to the New York Islanders in four games in the Stanley Cup final. After going through that experience, the Oilers won four Stanley Cups in the next five seasons.
"We were in the same position," Messier said. "They're having to weave their way through the process without experience. That can be tough. Experience can help when you're going through adversity."
He said the Penguins must adapt their game to get back into the series.
"[In '83], we recognized that the Islanders weren't allowing us to play our game," the Hall of Fame forward said. "I really see similarities in this series. Detroit is not allowing them to play the game they like. They have to be able to find a way to be effective while not playing their game. That's sort of the game within the game. It will be interesting to see them play a style that maybe they don't like."
Lecavalier, who won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, said the Penguins have their work cut out for them in attempting to get back into the series.
"Detroit is a good team," Lecavalier said. "We played them in an exhibition game, and in the first 12 minutes of the game, I didn't touch the puck. So I know what they're going through. You have to be able to get by their defense and forecheck."
First Published May 29, 2008 12:00 am