Huge congratulations go out to Evgeni Malkin (pronounced Ehv-geh-nee). At tonight’s NHL Awards, Geno won both the Ted Lindsay Award and Hart Trophy, naming him the league’s MVP for the 2011/2012 season.
He can add those to his Art Ross trophy, as the leader in points during the regular season.
Malkin beat out New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos for both awards.
When he took the stage to accept his first award, a visibly nervous Malkin thanked Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux and GM Ray Shero from a speech he had already prepared. Later on, backstage, Geno said that he was grateful for the support of his parents, and for his mom’s home cooking.
But the most heartwarming moment came when Geno took the stage again to accept his Hart trophy at the end of the night. With no speech in hand, he dedicated the award to former Penguin, and current Ottawa Senator, Sergei Gonchar.
“I remember when I come, two years, six year before, it’s different language, I not speak lot, you know, different life and different game, and not easy, and one guy who always support me, whole six year, and still best friend, and I want give this trophy to him, his name, Sergei Gonchar. He is my best friend now, always together, one day, and I’m glad one day, I meet him.”
You could pretty much hear everyone’s hearts grow three sizes during that speech.
Malkin and his linemate, James Neal, were also named to the first NHL All Star team. Geno was named top forward, while Neal was named top right winger.
It was absolutely wonderful to see Geno, who hasn’t always been comfortable with talking to the media, take the stage and speak with little hesitation. A definite “proud mom” kind of moment.
Of course, it was also wonderful to see such an amazing season rewarded. Geno now joins Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, and Jaromir Jagr as the only Penguins to named NHL MVPs. Good company to be in, no?