Should the Caps model themselves after the Bruins?
Before he took the job as head coach of the Capitals, Adam Oates had heard lots of stories about Alex Ovechkin.
But before he could judge the Russian superstar he had to see for himself what made him tick.
“I leaned that he’s a very coachable guy,” Oates said before learning that Ovechkin had beaten Sidney Crosby and John Tavares for the third Hart Trophy of his career.
“We worked on a lot of things. Kind of like what I thought going in. I had to earn his trust and when I got it we were in a really good place.
I think he’s got room to grow as a player and I think he’s a fantastic, fantastic player and he’s incredibly skilled.”
In what proved to be the closest Hart Trophy race since 2002, Ovechkin edged Crosby, 1,090 points to 1,058, for his third MVP award in the past six seasons.
He also won the award in 2008 and 2009.
“I am very honored to have been named the recipient of this prestigious award,” Ovechkin said in a statement.
“It is impossible to accomplish this honor without the help of my teammates and coaches. I especially would like to thank all of our fans for their unwavering support this season. I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice as we pursue our ultimate goal next season.”
Ovechkin’s margin of victory -- just 32 points from a record-setting 179 ballots cast -- represents the closest Hart Trophy race since Montreal's Jose Theodore and Calgary's Jarome Iginla finished in a virtual tie in 2002 (434 points each, with Theodore winning the award via the first tie-breaker, greater number of first-place votes). Points are allocated on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis for first through fifth place.
Ovechkin tallied 32 goals in 48 games, including 23 in his final 23 contests, to become the first three-time winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader. He also finished third inthe League in points (56), first in power-play goals (16), first in power-play points (27) and first in shots on goal (220), leading the Capitals to an 11-1-1 record in April and their fifth Southeast Division title in the last six years. Ovechkin recorded points in nine straight games March 17-April 2 (10-5—15), including a five-game goal streak March 17-24, and tallied his 30th goal of the year April 20, becoming the ninth player in League history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first eight seasons.
Oates said it was “easy” coaching Ovechkin.
“I have to go back to what I said to you when we talked [before the season],” Oates said. “As a player I wanted to be talked to and that’s what I wanted to be as a coach. So I talked to him. I talked to all the guys. When I talked to him, after a while it made sense and we got through some tough spots and then he was rocking and it was great. I think I showed him other parts of his game that he had and he still has lots more. He’s got lots more to his game in him."
The voting for the Hart Trophy went like this:
1. Alex Ovechkin, WSH 1090 (50-43-40-27-8)
2. Sidney Crosby, PIT 1058 (46-42-41-29-12)
3. John Tavares, NYI 919 (38-38-33-29-21)
4. Jonathan Toews, CHI 886 (39-35-29-29-19)
5. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 311 (4-12-13-25-47)
6. Patrick Kane, CHI 157 (2-6-9-14-8)
7. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA 96 (0-0-8-11-23)
8. Steven Stamkos, T.B. 28 (0-1-2-2-5)
9. Martin St. Louis, T.B. 20 (0-1-0-2-7)
10. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 18 (0-0-1-2-7)
11. Antti Niemi, S.J. 11 (0-0-0-1-8)
12. Craig Anderson, OTT 10 (0-1-0-1-0)
13. P.K. Subban, MTL 10 (0-0-1-1-2)
14. Evgeni Nabokov, NYI 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Henrik Sedin, VAN 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
16. Chris Kunitz, PIT 5 (0-0-0-1-2)
17. Niklas Backstrom, MIN 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Patrice Bergeron, BOS 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Ilya Kovalchuk, N.J. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Carey Price, MTL 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Ryan Suter, MIN 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
22. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 3 (0-0-0-0-3)
23. Francois Beauchemin, ANA 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Jeff Carter, L.A. 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Pascal Dupuis, PIT 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Zach Parise, MIN 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
James Reimer, TOR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Eric Staal, CAR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)