Before he took the job as head coach of the Capitals, Adam Oates had heard lots of stories about Alex Ovechkin.

But before he could judge the Russian superstar he had to see for himself what made him tick.

“I leaned that he’s a very coachable guy,” Oates said before learning that Ovechkin had beaten Sidney Crosby and John Tavares for the third Hart Trophy of his career.

“We worked on a lot of things. Kind of like what I thought going in. I had to earn his trust and when I got it we were in a really good place.

I think he’s got room to grow as a player and I think he’s a fantastic, fantastic player and he’s incredibly skilled.”

In what proved to be the closest Hart Trophy race since 2002, Ovechkin edged Crosby, 1,090 points to 1,058, for his third MVP award in the past six seasons.

He also won the award in 2008 and 2009.

“I am very honored to have been named the recipient of this prestigious award,” Ovechkin said in a statement.

“It is impossible to accomplish this honor without the help of my teammates and coaches. I especially would like to thank all of our fans for their unwavering support this season. I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice as we pursue our ultimate goal next season.”

Ovechkin’s margin of victory -- just 32 points from a record-setting 179 ballots cast -- represents the closest Hart Trophy race since Montreal's Jose Theodore and Calgary's Jarome Iginla finished in a virtual tie in 2002 (434 points each, with Theodore winning the award via the first tie-breaker, greater number of first-place votes). Points are allocated on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis for first through fifth place.