'Nuck's MVP pick? Ovy and done with

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Matt Pettinger is Roberto Luongo's teammate.

He's well aware of Jarome Iginla's exploits.

However, the Vancouver Canucks forward can't help but back his old buddy Alexander Ovechkin as the player who most deserves the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP.

"When you play in the east, you only worry about the east, and when you play in the west, all the guys talk about is the west," Pettinger said.

"I haven't seen Iginla play this year -- I know what his numbers are --but (Ovechkin) scoring 60 goals and carrying his team, I don't know without him where Washington would be.

"The way he ignites the teams and ignites the fans, it's tough to go against him."

You can easily forgive Pettinger -- a Calgary Hitmen alumnus -- for still having an allegiance to his old Washington Capitals teammate, who became the first player in more than a decade to reach the 60-goal plateau.

Other than that, though, he's closed that chapter of his life.

That's what happens when you're traded and your career is re-ignited by a homecoming.

Pettinger, a second-round selection of the Caps in 2000, received a gift he didn't ask for when dealt to the Canucks for Matt Cooke at the trade deadline.

"A good change of pace. It's busy and exciting coming home with a lot of family and friends and that kind of stuff. I grew up watching the Canucks, and now playing for them is unreal," said the 27-year-old from Victoria.

"I don't know (what happened). It's tough to put a finger on it. I'd been there since 2000. I wasn't playing great this year but wasn't getting the opportunity I thought I deserved this year. I never demanded to get traded or anything like that.

"When I found it was Vancouver, with so many teams I could have gone to, it was that much more exciting."

Pettinger's descent with the Caps is baffling. Sure, he's not a pure goal scorer, but he did pot 20 goals in the 2005-06 season and 16 in 64 games last year. But this year, he had but two goals in 56 outings before came the deal.

"I had a good relationship with Glen Hanlon before he got fired, and the new guy came (Bruce Boudreau) -- and I think he's a great coach -- but for whatever reason I didn't seem to fit his mould, and you see it around the league a lot. Guys just don't fit in to a certain coach's style of play or system," he said.


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