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NHL AWARDS

Thornton nets pair at ceremony

Shark wins Hart to go with Ross

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Joe Thornton edged out Jaromir Jagr again.

Thornton, who beat out Jagr for the scoring title by 2 points, took home the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player last night with Jagr again relegated to runner-up.

``I was a big hockey fan so I would always watch these awards and Wayne [Gretzky] would always take it home and, obviously, Mario [Lemieux] and Mark [Messier] as well," Thornton said, after accepting the award from Messier at the league's annual award ceremony. ``It's just very humbling just knowing I'm going to be on the same page as these guys."

San Jose's star center already had the Art Ross Trophy tucked away as the league's top scorer, thanks to a 125-point regular season. Thornton won the MVP in a close vote of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, finishing with 1,058 points to Jagr's 974. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was a distant third with 561 votes.

Thornton, acquired from the Bruins in a Nov. 30 trade, led the Sharks into the playoffs with 29 goals and 96 assists. He scored 20 goals and set up 72 others in 58 games with San Jose, lifting his team to the fifth seed in the Western Conference and helping linemate Jonathan Cheechoo win the Maurice ``Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leader with 56 goals.

``I just felt real comfortable," said Thornton. ``I'm just in a new place playing the same game I always played. I wish the Bruins all the best."

Jagr, who won the Hart in 1999 with Pittsburgh, did win his third Lester B. Pearson Award as the players' choice for most outstanding player.

``With this award, you get voted on by the players you play against every night and I think they understand the game better than the media," Jagr said.

With 54 goals and 69 assists -- both Ranger records -- Jagr carried New York to its first postseason appearance since 1997.

Kiprusoff won his first Vezina Trophy as top goaltender, ending Martin Brodeur's run at two in a row. Kiprusoff also beat out Ranger Henrik Lundqvist, who was the first rookie in more than a decade to be nominated for the Vezina.

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin beat out fellow scoring sensation Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and hard-hitting Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf for the Calder Trophy as top rookie.

The 20-year-old Ovechkin led all rookies with 106 points while becoming just the second rookie in NHL history to score 50 goals and 100 points after Teemu Selanne did it in 1992-93. Ovechkin was third in the league overall in goals and points.

``The NHL is the best league in the world, so to win the Calder means a lot," Ovechkin said.

Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom won his fourth Norris Trophy as top defenseman, ahead of Anaheim's Scott Neidermayer, who won in 2004, and Dallas's Sergei Zubov.

``It's special, but I'm not going to say any more than the other three," Lidstrom said. ``After the season I had before the lockout, I wanted to come back and have a strong season."

After losing out to Carolina's Peter Laviolette in the Eastern Conference finals, Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff edged out the Hurricanes' bench boss by a single vote for his first Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

``I'd trade him the point for that big silver cup he has over there," Ruff said.

Ruff led the Sabres to a 52-24-6 record and 110 points -- both franchise records -- a 25-point improvement over their performance in 2003-04.

Three days after accepting the Stanley Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman, Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour accepted the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward.

A first-time finalist, Brind'Amour beat out Dallas's Jere Lehtinen, a three-time winner, and Ottawa's Mike Fischer.

Pavel Datysuk won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship, beating out San Jose's Patrick Marleau and Tampa Bay's Brad Richards after receiving just 22 penalty minutes while leading the Red Wings with a career-high 87 points.

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