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Award nominations announced
Thornton & Marleau may land hardware
5/4/06 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks are finally getting recognized. At least a pair of them are. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were named as finalists for two of the league's post season awards on Thursday by the NHL. Thornton will square off with Jaromir Jagr and former Sharks Miikka Kiprusoff for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league's most valuable player.

Marleau was nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. Marleau finished 19th in scoring with 86 points (35 goals, 52 assists), while amassing a paltry 26 penalty minutes.

The Sharks captain will compete with Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk and Tampa Bay Lightning center Brad Richards. Richards wont he award in 2004. Datsyuk recorded 28 goals and 59 assists for the Red Wings, while committing only 22 minutes worth of penalties. Richards scored 23 goals, and added 68 assists on top of his 32 penalty minutes.

The big debate will be in the Hart race, where Thornton must not only compete against Jagr's statistics and value to his team, but also the East Coast media, who rarely saw Thornton play. The majority of votes are based in the east, which doesn't bode well for the Sharks centerman.

Jagr's 123 points (54 goals, 69) assists was second to Thornton's 125 29 goals, 96) assists, which gave Thornton the Art Ross Trophy. Voters are not supposed to factor in post season play in the voting, which also serves as a negative for Thornton. The Rangers were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils in four games, while the Sharks advanced to the conference semi-finals in a five-game win over the Nashville Predators.

Kiprusoff is considered a lock for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's top goaltender, but could squeeze Thornton and Jagr for the Hart if voters decide that his 42 win season is worthy of the league's most valuable player honor. Kiprusoff's 2.07 goals against average and .923 save percentage were tops in the league. Kiprusoff's Calgary Flames earned the Western Conference's third seed in the playoffs, but were eliminated by the 6th seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 7 games.

Our picks for this year's NHL Post Season Awards:

Hart Trophy (League MVP) - Joe Thornton, San Jose

Vezina Trophy (best goalie) - Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary

Calder Trophy (best rookie) - Alexander Ovechkin, Washington

Norris Trophy (best defenseman) - Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit

Jack Adams Award (best coach) - Peter Laviolette, Carolina

Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) - Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina

Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship) - Patrick Marleau, San Jose

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