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Major NHL awards elude Crosby

| Thursday, June 24, 2010

LAS VEGAS — The youngest captain of a Stanley Cup champion apparently needs to win over NHL writers and players, but not members of his organization.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby finished third in voting for the Hart Trophy (MVP) to Vancouver Canucks center and NHL scoring leader Henrik Sedin, who also bested Crosby for a spot on the NHL's first All-Star team.

The Hart and All-Star teams are voted on by select members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

The Ted Lindsay Award (outstanding player) is chosen by the league's Players Association, and it went to Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin for a third straight season.

"It's not easy, and especially now I have more of an appreciation for it," Crosby said after the NHL Awards Show at The Palms Hotel Las Vegas.

Crosby, 22, is three years removed from winning the Hart, Lindsay (then the Lester B. Pearson Award) and the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the NHL's leading scorer.

His offseason approach after winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 was to focus on improving his scoring touch, and his response last season was 51 goals -- tied for the NHL lead with Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos and 12 more than his previous-best total, set during the 2005-06 campaign.

Still, his 729 points trailed Ovechkin's 834 and Sedin's 894 in Hart balloting. The NHLPA doesn't reveal the breakdown of its voting results.

Crosby finished with 500 points in the All-Star voting, 34 fewer than Sedin at center.

The voting results probably won't please Penguins general manager Ray Shero, who last week compared Crosby to Hockey Hall-of-Famer and six-time Cup winner Bryan Trottier.

"The drive he had to score last season — he's always been a pass-first guy, but part of his mindset this year was wanting to score goals, it was that simple," Shero said. "Usually when he sets his mind to it, he accomplishes it."

Crosby didn't leave Las Vegas empty-handed, winning his first Mark Messier Leadership Award and sharing the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy with Stamkos.

He called those awards "real honors," and he didn't begrudge Sedin or Ovechkin, his rival dating to their NHL debuts in 2005.

Seemingly the only MVP slights against Crosby before last season were his goal scoring and the luxury of playing on a team with center Evgeni Malkin, the 2009 scoring champion and a Hart runner-up that year and in 2008.

However, Crosby scored 51 goals and 109 points, tied for second in the NHL, over 81 games during a season when Malkin produced career lows in goals (28), points (77) and games (67).

The 32 points separating Crosby and Malkin represented the largest discrepancy between a club's first and second scorers, but it didn't prevent the Penguins from finishing with 101 points — third most in the Eastern Conference.

Note: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar's agent, JP Barry, said he has not heard from Shero about a contract proposal sent over the weekend. Barry said he will speak to Shero at the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles this weekend.

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