ShareThis Page

Penguins' Malkin MVP in every way

| Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 9:24 p.m.
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin poses with the Ted Lindsay Award, the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy during the NHL Awards, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Las Vegas. The Hart Trophy honors the NHL's most valuable player, the Art Ross Trophy recognizes the league's top scorer and the Ted Lindsay Award establishes Malkin as the NHL's best player by fellow NHLPA members. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin poses for a photo before the start of the NHL Awards, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

LAS VEGAS — From second-best to second to none.

Evgeni Malkin, drafted second behind Alexander Ovechkin and a career-long No. 2 behind Sidney Crosby with the Penguins, finally, formally took that next step to No. 1 by winning the NHL's Hart Trophy as most valuable player, presented Wednesday night at a gala show at the Wynn hotel.

It was a rout, to boot.

Malkin received 144 of a possible 149 first-place votes and was named on every ballot submitted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. His 1,473 voting points dwarfed the 598 of Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and the 556 of New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

“It's the best day of my life,” Malkin said. “A very special day. Very exciting and nervous.”

Earlier, Malkin won the Ted Lindsay Award, emblematic of the MVP as chosen by the NHL Players Association. He also was presented with the Art Ross Trophy he earned as the league's leading scorer.

Malkin thanked his famous-in-Pittsburgh parents Vladimir and Natalia as well as the Penguins and his coaches in Russia.

“I never even thought I'd be in the NHL, growing up in Russia,” Malkin said. “I can't believe I'm sitting here with three trophies.”

But Malkin's strongest expression of gratitude — including dedicating his Hart victory — was for Sergei Gonchar, the former Penguins defenseman now with Ottawa. Gonchar mentored Malkin in his early years in Pittsburgh, including having Malkin stay in his house.

“When I came I couldn't speak English. He helped me,” Malkin said. “Great guy. Unbelievable player. My best friend.”

Malkin, 25, came off reconstructive knee surgery to produce a career-high 50 goals and 109 points. He and others credited that to an unprecedented summer of conditioning in Moscow with Mike Kadar, the Penguins' strength coach.

“You could see it even when Geno was in rehab, how serious he was about coming back and doing something special,” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, who attended last night's ceremony.

“I saw dedication. I saw a player who wanted to do it for his team.”

For the Penguins, this continued a two-decade string of dominating the major trophies. The Hart was the franchise's sixth, joining Mario Lemieux (1988, 1993, 1996), Jaromir Jagr (1999) and Crosby (2007).

No Penguins other than Malkin were trophy finalists. Jordan Staal finished sixth for the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward), Kris Letang ninth for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) and Bylsma sixth for the Jack Adams Award (best coach) that he won last year.

One of Malkin's linemates, James Neal, made the NHL's first all-star team at right wing after breaking out for 40 goals.

“Geno was on the best line in hockey,” Bylsma said, also citing Chris Kunitz. “And Geno was the one who made it go.”

Malkin always has been content to share a team with Crosby, but he also has made clear in the past year — in word and deed — that he won't settle for No. 2.

“I love being with Sid and all our guys, but I hope this isn't my last,” Malkin said, still clinging the Hart. “I want to be the best player the next 10 years.”

Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.