The always-awesome Dmitri Chesnokov at Puck Daddy reports this morning that Pavel Datsyuk has been named this year's recipient of the Kharlamov Trophy, the award given to the best Russian player in the league, as voted on by his peers. Sergei Fedorov was the first ever recipient of the award in 2003 and Datsyuk's close win this year ends Alexander Ovechkin's five-year reign over the trophy. Chesnokov notes that the vote this season was very close, coming down to Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin's vote. Of course, it wouldn't be a Datsyuk interview without some of his trademark humor:
When asked for his reaction to Mike Babcock's earlier comments to The Detroit News about Datsyuk's contributions to the team (" "As soon a Pavel gets on the ice, the whole team suddenly has more space and has the puck way more."), he had this to say:
"I think he meant that I am really small," Datsyuk explained. "So when I, a small slim person, am on the ice, there is more room for bigger guys. Maybe he said that to cheer me up that I look skinny!"
Of surprising notes among the voters, Chesnokov sneaks in the news that Alexander Semin, who is Ovechkin's teammate on the Washington Capitals, cast his vote in favor of Datsyuk, saying "I simply like the way he plays.
For the record, Ilya Bryzgalov, who Shane Doan said was the "best player" in the first-round series between Detroit and Pheonix, finished fourth (he also voted for himself) [UPDATE: Not only did Bryzgalov vote himself first, he voted for himself in all three positions. They also counted all of those points in their final tally. Thanks to Kuklas Korner reader Sven22 for finding the link - full voting here (Direct Link not working? Click the story link titled "Pavel Datsyuk - winner of "Kharlamov Trophy!")].
It's great to see Datsyuk getting this kind of recognition from his peers. The most complete all-around player in the game today, Datsyuk's contention for the Hart Trophy for the NHL's most valuable player most likely ended on December 22nd when he broke his hand in a game against Vancouver and missed 19 games in the middle of the season. But, despite playing in only 56 games this season, the Russian players in the league recognized that Pavel's impact to the team (and more importantly, to other teams) is undeniable. Congrats to Datsyuk for the award.