LAS VEGAS - The Bruins failed to top off their season with a Stanley Cup, but here on a hot afternoon in the desert, with the Garden ice long melted down a Causeway Street drain, goalie Tim Thomas, defenseman Zdeno Chara, and coach Claude Julien copped three of the game’s most prestigious awards in an end-of-the-year hardware hat trick.
LAS VEGAS - The Bruins failed to top off their season with a Stanley Cup, but here on a hot afternoon in the desert, with the Garden ice long melted down a Causeway Street drain, goalie Tim Thomas, defenseman Zdeno Chara, and coach Claude Julien copped three of the game’s most prestigious awards in an end-of-the-year hardware hat trick.
LAS VEGAS - The Bruins failed to top off their season with a Stanley Cup, but here on a hot afternoon in the desert, with the Garden ice long melted down a Causeway Street drain, goalie Tim Thomas, defenseman Zdeno Chara, and coach Claude Julien copped three of the game’s most prestigious awards in an end-of-the-year hardware hat trick.
Thomas, whose parents sold their wedding rings when he was a young teen, allowing him to attend a summer goalie school, has become one of the league’s feelgood stories in recent years. As a kid, joined by father and brother, he went door-to-door selling apples in downtown Detroit. A late invite to the University of Vermont, almost a walk-on, he became an All American with the Catamounts in the mid-’90s, but couldn’t find serious interest among North America pro teams, especially NHL teams. He became a star in Finland, which is where he caught the eye of Boston scouts and GM Mike O’Connell.
There are days, says Thomas, when he grows tired of telling the story.
“But at the same time, I don’t get tired of hearing it,’’ he said. “Hey, I thought I’d be in Finland for the rest of my career. Now, I wouldn’t call it rags [to riches], but this is a whole different level I’ve been able to reach.’’

The show itself was awkward at times, with presenters, many of them ex-NHLers, chopping up their lines when reading from the teleprompter. Lead singer Chaka Kahn, her songs tired, displayed a wardrobe that looked as if it were hastily tailored out of the drapes of a nearby Marriott. The league has contracted to return here for the same ceremonies the next two years. Not a bad start overall, but it definitely needs refinement. Like a lot of NHL ice, it was choppy.

Alexander Ovechkin, as expected, won the Hart Trophy (MVP) for the second season in a row. Columbus goalie Steve Mason was name rookie of the year (Calder Memorial Trophy). Nashville’s Steve Sullivan, severely hindered by back woes and surgeries the past two season, was the Masterton winner for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication. Slick Detroit pivot Pavel Datsyuk picked up both the Byng (gentlemanly player) and Selke (defensive forward) trophies.

Chara edged out the likes of the iconic Nicklas Lidstrom and Washington’s green Mike Green to win the Norris for the first time. He idolizes Lidstrom, a point he made repeatedly, which only added to Chara’s appreciation for winning the trophy. A health and workout fanatic, Chara virtually never ingests such things as caffeine, chocolate or alcohol. He will sometimes splurge by dabbing a small amount of butter on a baked potato. When he does splurge, he’ll have a glass of wine. But it must be Japanese plumb wine.

“I don’t know what I’ll do to celebrate,’’ said the Norris winner. “I don’t know. I might have a sip.’’

Ah, success, so sweet.