Of all the awards the National Hockey League will bestow in Las Vegas once this season is said and done, this award is one of the newest. The winner of the trophy is decided by the namesake of the trophy, legend Mark Messier. Of course, right?!
The award honors an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes.
Last year, the projected winner was: Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers. However, this award was presented to Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes. Doan became the sixth recipient of the award, following the likes of Zdeno Chara (2011), Sidney Crosby (2010), Jarome Iginla (2009), Mats Sundin (2008) and Chris Chelios (2007). (Yes, sometimes we get our predictions wrong.)
This award is one of the trickiest to prognosticate. You see, the nominees come from the fans, clubs and personnel, but are ultimately left up to Messier, making our decision here at Aerys difficult to paw through the thirty teams and its’ members for potential candidates and winner.
However, the front runners that come to mind are:
Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins): On the ice Marchand, who is normally known for his peskiness and irritant ways, has paced the Bruins squad this season. He didn’t go overseas in the off-season like the majority of his team, but stayed in Halifax to spend quality time with his family. Since the beginning of the season in January he has played in 44 of the Bruins 47 games, registering 18 goals and 18 assists with a plus-23 rating.
Off the ice, Marchand has hosted multiple charity events and fundraisers, including raffling off tickets to his personal suite at the TD Garden to benefit the Richard family that lost their 8 year-old son in the Boston bombings and numerous meet and greets.
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning): Martin St. Louis is always one of the first names that comes to mind when this award is brought up. St. Louis continues to pace the Tampa Bay squad and is the oldest recipient of the Art Ross Trophy for the NHL’s point leader with 60 in 48 games. It comes as his second Art Ross Trophy of his career. His previous one came in the 2003-04 season where he also won the Hart Trophy and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s only Stanley Cup. He also leads the league in assists with 43. The last time St. Louis was nominated for this award was in 2011, but lost to the Penguins Sidney Crosby.
Brad Richards (New York Rangers): Brad Richards is one of those quiet but effective kinds of players. He’s seemingly been having a rough season, but has found his rhythm and knack for scoring in time for the playoff push. He was originally brought on by the Rangers to help improve the game of Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto, a plan that has since been pretty effective.
Off the ice, Richards was involved in numerous efforts to help victims of Hurricane Sandy and participated in the relief efforts. He participated in Operation Hat Trick and a charity clinic on Staten Island.
Projected 2013 Winner: Brad Marchand He’s helped pace the Bruins squad in points and has led them on and off the ice setting a prime example of what a player should be and do. He’s changed his style of play and isn’t as risky as he used to be, cleaning up his act in more ways than one (notice we haven’t seen any drunken pictures lately?) It’s a long shot, but anything is possible.