Malkin becomes fourth Penguin to win Hart Trophy

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For the first time in his career, Evgeni Malkin is the Hart Trophy winner. Pittsburgh’s star forward beat out two other finalists, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos, for the award that was presented Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The Hart Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and given to the “player adjudged most valuable to his team.”

Malkin placed first on 144 of the 149 ballots cast. He finished with a score of 1,473 in the voting, well above Stamkos’ 598 points. Lundqvist finished third with 556 points.

Malkin, 25, scored 50 goals and added 59 assists for the Penguins in 2011-12. His 109 points also earned him the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Malkin becomes the fourth Penguin to win the Hart, joining Mario Lemieux (1988, 1993, 1996), Jaromir Jagr (1999) and Sidney Crosby (2007).

Malkin reacts

“It’s a special day to me,” Malkin said. “I hope it’s not the last one I’ll win.”

During his acceptance speech, Malkin thanked former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar – and with good reason. Malkin stayed at Gonchar’s home, but perhaps most importantly, the veteran Russian player often acted as a translator for the young star. Malkin said that he’s gradually becoming more comfortable with the language and spotlight in the U.S.

“Every year I’m a little bit more comfortable,” Malkin said. “I learn more English, I watch TV and have more friends in Pittsburgh.”

Ultimately, his game speaks for itself, but another impressive set of hardware says plenty more.

Recent winners:

2006 – Joe Thornton (Boston/San Jose)
2007 – Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh)
2008 – Alex Ovechkin (Washington)
2009 – Alex Ovechkin (Washington)
2010 – Henrik Sedin (Vancouver)
2011 – Corey Perry (Anaheim)