Getty ImagesThe Kharlamov Trophy is presented each year by Sovetsky Sport to the best Russian player in the NHL. Players themselves get to vote, picking the best three.
(The only players who didn’t vote were Alexander Semin and Ilya Bryzgalov, who said he doesn’t watch hockey and, therefore, can’t cast a vote).
This year it was a close three-horse race with Pavel Datsyuk edging out Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Datsyuk won the Kharlamov Trophy two years ago.
It was a difficult season for Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings. But one was almost certain that Pavel would come through with his magic. No wonder Siri knows only one “magic man”.
Last year’s Kharlamov Trophy winner Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin summed it all up:
“Pasha is always my number one. With the way he skates, his hands, his skills. Datsyuk is the player to imitate.”
Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Datsyuk early last week to tell him the good news.
DATSYUK: “Thanks to all the players who voted for me,” Datsyuk said. “But Ovechkin and Bobrovsky had a great season as well. It was a tough start for Alex, some bad things were said about him. I am happy that Ovechkin proved the critics wrong. Sergei [Bobrovsky] came to Columbus, settled down, and his team got to the great level. They were a half point short, just like in chess, of making the playoffs. And the rise of Bobrovsky started this season with SKA [in the KHL]…”
How would you rate this season?
“The season is still on. But it’s great that Detroit made the playoffs. Although the year was a tough one for us.”
How did you manage to finish so strong?
“We were under a great deal of pressure in the last games of the season. The coach had me playing with Henrik Zetterberg. We were a good pairing. But the entire Detroit team played a consistent team hockey at the end of the season. We knew that every goal could decide everything. So we fought till the end.”
What were you up to in 1990?
“1990? I was going to school and kicked around tin cans in the yard. Why?”
That was the last year Detroit didn’t make the playoffs.
“Yes, that’s right. It’s great that we have the streak going. It is the longest such streak in North American sports. I hope it won’t be broken when I am around.”
You played in two leagues this year…
“In three. Before CSKA I was playing in an amateur league in Ekaterinburg.”
Did you know that your goal was named the best in the KHL?
“No, I haven’t heard. A discharge against Garnett? Everyone liked my penalty shot that much? That’s great! Who should I send the bill to to get the money for a present?”
Your contract with Detroit expires in 2014. Where will you continue your career? Your agent Gary Greenstin says the decision is 90% certain.
“Let’s live to see 2014. By law I can’t even think about options until I have an existing contract with the Red Wings.”
You got hooked on Twitter this season…
“I am not that big of a fan. But it is an interesting thing. There are a lot of advantages – you know the news right away, a lot of funny pictures are sent. And I get to talk about my life to people who want to know about it…”
When was the last time you went Duck hunting?
“I prefer fishing!”
But still, happy hunting.