The National Hockey League gambled on relocating their annual post-season awards show by moving it to Las Vegas and came a way with a winning production.
The event was held in the Pearl Theater at the Palms Hotel, which is considered to be one of the hippest resorts in Vegas.
From the Hollywood-styled red carpet, to when the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot of the Pittsburgh Penguins brought the Stanley Cup into the theater, to the after party at the Rain nightclub, it was a star studded, well orchestrated event.
The big winners of the night were Russians and Boston Bruins.
Alexander Ovechkin took home both MVP awards, the Hart Trophy, voted by the hockey writers, and the Lester Pearson Trophy, given by the leagues players. He also won the Maurice Richard trophy for the most goals in the regular season. Ovechkin was pleased with the honors but said, “Personal stats are good, but the most important (thing) is the Stanley Cup.”
When asked how he would celebrate, in an understated fashion, he said, “Go to the pool and have a couple of beers.” Ovechkin also pointed out that “Six awards was a big day for our country.”
Pavel Datsyuk, of the Detroit Red Wings was up for four awards and came home with two, the Lady Byng for “gentlemanly play” and the Selke, for best defense by an offensive player. Prior to the telecast, it was pointed out that four nominations were rare and he was asked if he wanted all four. He responded, “I want all of them, ten if I could.”
Evgeni Malkin was the third Russian to pick up an award by wining the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the regular season. He finished second to Ovechkin in both MVP awards.
Boston’s Tim Thomas picked up the Vezina Trophy for the NHL top goalie, and shared the Jennings trophy with Manny Fernandez for the best goaltending tandem.
Thomas was very emotional on the podium as he accepted the award. He said he had not allowed himself to think about winning pointing out that, “The goalies on the trophy are so good that it’s hard to put yourself on that level.”
Zdeno Chara, also from Boston, won the Norris Trophy for the top defenseman. Chara was surprised with the award beating out six time winner, Nicklas Lidstrom and said “Nik is such an icon that every time I’m around him I get nervous.”
Finally, Boston Coach Claude Julien won the Jack Adams, coach of the year honors by a large margin as he led the team to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Other winners included Steve Mason (Calder Trophy) as the Rookie of the Year and, Steve Sullivan (Masterton).
The event will return to Las Vegas for the next two years and based on the glitz and swagger of this year’s show it will definitely grow in popularity among hockey fans worldwide.