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NHL awards party takes the stage in Las Vegas

Wednesday, 17.06.2009 / 12:21 PM / Features
By Adam Kimelman
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NHL awards party takes the stage in Las Vegas
The NHL has taken over Las Vegas with a charity poker tournament Wednesday and the annual Awards show Thursday with Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Steve Mason and Pavel Datsyuk up for more honors.
After months and months of hard work, it's time for the stars of the National Hockey League to kick back, relax and enjoy some time in Las Vegas.

The League's annual awards show will take place in Sin City for the first time, and it's promising to be a grand event. The show can be seen on Versus in the U.S. starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, and at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBC.

The festivities begin Wednesday with the NHL Charity Shootout Presented By PokerStars.net. A charity No-Limit Texas Hold 'em poker game will be held at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino and feature top stars from the NHL and the professional poker world playing to raise money for their favorite charities.

Among the NHL stars playing are Roberto Luongo, Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Richards, Jeremy Roenick, Sheldon Souray and Kris Versteeg, as well as former NHL All-Stars Pat LaFontaine, Cam Neely and Luc Robitaille. Professional poker players participating include Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer.

But that's just the appetizer to the big show Thursday at The Palms. That's where the best of the best from the 2008-09 season will compete to take home the hardware. Again the show can be seen on Versus in the U.S. starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, and at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBC.

Players, coaches, presenters and special guests will arrive on the red carpet at the Palms Hotel beginning at 6:15 p.m. ET.  NHL.com will provide streaming coverage of the red carpet arrivals.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin might need his own plane to fly home with the amount of hardware he could be leaving with. In addition to winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP last week, he's up for two awards -- the Hart Trophy as League MVP and Lester B. Pearson Award as the League's most outstanding player as voted on by the players.

Malkin joins Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin as finalists for both awards.

Datsyuk also is in line for some heavy-duty awards. In addition to the Hart and Pearson, he's a finalist for the Lady Byng and Selke trophies.

Datsyuk will go against New Jersey's Zach Parise and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis in a quest for his third-straight award for being the League's most gentlemanly player.

The Detroit center is competing against Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Philadelphia captain Richards for his second straight Selke, awarded to the best defensive forward.

Datsyuk's teammate, Nicklas Lidstrom, is one of the finalists for the Norris Trophy. A win would give the Red Wings blueliner his seventh overall and fourth straight nod as the League's best defenseman. It also would tie him with Hall of Famer Doug Harvey for second-most Norris trophies. Standing in his way are Boston's Zdeno Chara and Washington's Mike Green.

Columbus' Steve Mason is going for a daily double, as the Blue Jackets rookie goalie is a finalist for the Vezina and Calder trophies. Joining Mason as a finalist for the top goaltender award are Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom and Boston's Tim Thomas. Chicago's Kris Versteeg and Anaheim's Bobby Ryan are Mason's competition for the top rookie trophy.

First-year San Jose coach Todd McLellan, Boston's Claude Julien and St. Louis' Andy Murray are finalists for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

The Bill Masterton Award, given to the player who best exemplifies dedication to the game, will be given to Detroit's Chris Chelios, Nashville's Steve Sullivan or Florida's Richard Zednik.

Los Angeles' Dustin Brown, Montreal's Alexei Kovalev and Columbus' Rick Nash are finalists for the NHL Foundation Player Award, in recognition of their commitment and service to charities in their communities. The winning player will receive $25,000 from the NHL Foundation to present to the charity of their choice.

Chara, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Calgary's Jarome Iginla are the finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.

For the first time, the NHL will have a fan-driven award, the Scotiabank NHL FAN FAV award. Among the 10 finalists for the honor are Iginla, Mason, Crosby, Luongo, Green and Ovechkin. Also up for the award are Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, Carolina's Eric Staal, New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov.

Multi-platinum recording artists Robin Thicke and Grammy-winner Chaka Khan will perform during the show, and Canadian band Arkells will play a set at the NHL Awards Party following the show. On hand to present awards will be celebrity hockey fans like rap star Snoop Dogg, singer Michael Buble, and actors William Fichtner and Lauren Holly.

Other past and present NHL stars scheduled to participate include Tony Esposito, Sergei Fedorov, Ron Francis, Doug Gilmour, Brian Leetch and Mark Messier. Former NHL coach Pat Burns, a three-time Jack Adams Award winner, also will be on hand.