Friday, June 15, 2007

Lidstrom and Datsyuk win NHL awards

TORONTO (CP) - Nicklas Lidstrom, meet Ray Bourque.

Lidstrom captured yet another Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman Wednesday night, becoming the first five-time career winner since Bourque, the great Boston Bruins blueliner.

''It feels a bit unbelievable,'' said Lidstrom. ''Ray was a guy I looked up to coming into the league. He was a great player at both ends of the ice. . I really appreciated watching him play. To be tied with him is just an unbelievable feeling.''

Lidstrom, who replaced the retired Steve Yzerman as Detroit Red Wings captain this past season and was also named to the NHL's First All-Star Team, beat out the stellar Anaheim Ducks duo of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger - both former winners - for this year's award in voting by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

''I don't take it for granted,'' said Lidstrom, who won with 1,217 points in voting, ahead of Niedermayer's 1,024. Pronger was third with 608.

''I don't know what else you say,'' said Niedermayer. ''He's been recognized a number of times for good reason, because he's a very, very good defenceman. Smart player, he's got great skills, a good leader. He is everything that you need to be to be in his situation.

''Right now it's tough to say there's anybody better.''

Lidstrom, who has won the award five of the past six seasons, tied for the league lead among defencemen with a plus-40 rating and ranked third among all players in ice time per game at 27:29. He had 62 points (13-49), fifth among NHL defencemen.

Niedermayer, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in Anaheim's Cup triumph, won the award in 2004. He led all NHL defencemen in scoring this season with 69 points. Pronger missed 16 games but still ended up with 59 points.

Dan Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning was fourth in voting with 219 points, followed in fifth by Kimmo Timonen of the Nashville Predators at 144.

Red Wings star forward Pavel Datsyuk was recognized for his sportsmanship by becoming a back-to-back winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

Datsyuk, who didn't attend the NHL Awards show in Toronto, bested Colorado's Joe Sakic and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis for the player judged to have exhibited superior sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of skill.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland accepted the award on Datsyuk's behalf.

"Pavel couldn't be here tonight," Holland said. "Pavel asked me to thank his coaching staff and his teammates for helping (him) win this award."

Datsyuk produced 87 points in 79 regular-season games while serving only 20 minutes in penalties. He received 705 points, edging St. Louis' 513 and Sakic's 354.

Lidstrom photo courtesy Aaron Harris/Associated Press


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