Lightning clean up at NHL awards

The Tampa Bay Lightning story ended with a brilliant epilogue.
Three days after winning the Stanley Cup, Brad Richards was selected playoff MVP and saluted as the most gentlemanly player, John Tortorella was named coach of the year, and Martin St. Louis carted home the Hart Memorial Trophy as regular-season MVP from the annual NHL awards banquet last night.
St. Louis also was presented with the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion and, earlier in the day, he won the Lester B. Pearson Award as most outstanding player as selected by his peers at an NHL Players’ Association luncheon.
“It’s going to be a tough year to top,” said St. Louis, who will be celebrating his son’s first birthday on Sunday.
Scabs covered two cuts on his face from Game 7 of the championship series against Calgary.
“I don’t know if it means I’m the best player in the NHL,” the 28-year-old native of Laval, Que. said at a news conference after Hockey Hall of Fame member Frank Mahovlich announced his Hart win.
“There are a lot of great players and to be considered among them is very flattering.”
It wasn’t even close: St. Louis was first on 97 of 105 ballots and amassed 1,016 points while runner-up Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames was second with two firsts and 253 points.
A Tampa Bay dynasty could be in the making if this awards sweep is any indication.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on our team who deserve credit,” said St. Louis, a 5’8” dynamo who was one of the smallest men ever to win the scoring title. “You can’t do all this with just two or three guys.”
Four years ago, Tampa Bay finished 29th in a 30-team league. But a core is in place now that could lead the Lightning to multiple titles—and a lot more individual awards.
“It’s been incredible,” said Richards, 24, of Murray Harbour, P.E.I. “We won the Cup and now this.
“I think it really reflects the team and the respect that we’ve earned,” he added. “We all know these awards were selected before the Cup was won, but to hear the names after the envelopes were opened shows why we won.”
St. Louis won the Ross with 38 goals and 56 assists for 94 total points. He was the first player to win the scoring title, earn a Stanley Cup ring, and get the Hart in the same year since Wayne Gretzky in 1987.
He’s only the eighth player in NHL history to complete the triple.
St. Louis said when he won the Pearson that it would mean more to him than the Hart, which is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
“Beside the Stanley Cup, this will be the trophy that matters the most to me, being voted by the guys you play against night in and night out, it’s very flattering,” he said.
“This one will always hold a special place in my heart.”
He beat out Colorado captain Joe Sakic and Florida goalie Roberto Luongo for the Pearson. Sakic was the last player (2001) before St. Louis to win the Pearson and the Hart in the same year.
Tortorella, 45, was the first U.S.-born coach to win the Adams Award as best coach as determined by members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
San Jose’s Ron Wilson was second and Calgary’s Darryl Sutter was third in the voting.
Actor Russell Crowe read out Richards’ name as the winner of the Lady Byng Trophy in a PHWA vote. Richards spent only 12 minutes in penalty boxes last season.
Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson was runner-up.
New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, 32, of Montreal was named best goalie for the second year in a row. Fifteen of the 30 NHL general managers picked Brodeur for the Vezina Trophy.
Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff was runner-up.
Devils’ teammate Scott Niedermayer of Cranbrook, B.C. was selected best defenceman in a PHWA vote, amassing 872 points and getting 72 first-place votes.
Ottawa’s Zdeno Chara was second with 563 points and 19 first-place votes.
Kris Draper, 33, of the Detroit Red Wings, who anchored the league’s best penalty-killing unit and also had a career-best 40 points, won the Selke Trophy for “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Draper got 66 first-place votes and 839 points in the PHWA tally. John Madden of the Devils was a distant second with 368 points.
Boston’s Andrew Raycroft won the Calder Trophy as top rookie after getting 93 of the 105 available first-place PHWA votes. The Belleville, Ont. native went 14-6-3 in his last 23 games to lift the Bruins to first place in the Northeast Division.
Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Ryder of Bonavista, Nfld. was second with 11 first-place votes.
Iginla, 26, was given the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scoring along with Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers). All three scored 41 times.
Iginla also was handed the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership on and off the ice.
The Edmonton native’s “giving nature and warm approach to the people of Calgary makes him an excellent choice for the 2003-2004 King Clancy Memorial Trophy,” the league said in a statement.