Ilya Kovalchuk wins 2008 Atlanta Professional Athlete of the Year Award

Congratulations to Ilya Kovalchuk, who took home the 2008 Pro Athlete of the Year Award at the Atlanta Sports Awards Monday night. For Kovalchuk, this has been a season full of accolades and one in which he has become a leader and put the Thrashers on his back: he recently played in the All-Star Game in Atlanta, he has gained notoriety throughout North America for his development into a solid defensive player, and has led the NHL in goals (39) for most of the season (until Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin took the lead). Kovalchuk and the Thrashers have really taken off after an 0-6 start and are now only two points behind division leader Carolina. At a relatively young age, this is a great honor for Ilya. By age 24, the former first overall pick of the NHL Draft already has had two 40+ goal seasons and one 50-goal season, and he is a 2-time NHL All-Star. Also, his 241 career goals are the most by any player since he entered the league in 2001. A Pro Athlete of the Year Award is a great accomplishment in any respect, but in a big sports city like Atlanta, it is even more significant for a hockey player to shine so bright.

By Craig Custance Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 02:26 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kudos for Kovy: Ilya Kovalchuk was named the pro athlete of the year last night at the Atlanta sports awards and said it was a fun experience mingling with other Atlanta athletes. He said he got to meet and chat at length with guys like Brian Finneran, Morten Anderson and Josh Smith. Kovalchuk was honored to win the award, although I’m sure he has his eyes set on bigger things this sesason.