The NHL has revealed the nominees for another award, naming Deryk Engelland, Wayne Simmonds and Blake Wheeler finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award. The award is given “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.”
Nick Foligno was the last to win the award, when he took it home in 2017 alongside the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Prior to that, several captains including Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Mats Sundin had taken home the award. For a full list of winners see here.
Though Engelland isn’t technically the captain of the Vegas Golden Knights, he has taken many players under his wing as they adjust to life in Las Vegas. Engelland, a native of the city even before being selected in the expansion draft, was also involved heavily in the #VegasStrong movement after the mass shooting that occurred just before the season began. He addressed the Golden Knights’ crowd directly before their first game, explaining his connection to the city and pledged the team’s help in the healing process.
Simmonds, an alternate captain for the Philadelphia Flyers, has long been involved in community outreach and is a board member with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. This season, Simmonds has opened up about his struggles as a black hockey player and been a leader in the Hockey Is For Everyone cause, helping younger players of color to follow their dreams regardless of the challenges that still may lay before them.
Regarded as one of the most well-respected leaders around the game, Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler is an ambassador for the True North Youth Foundation and his wife, Sam, sits on the foundation’s board. The couple have led several functions and events to help underprivileged youths in the area. His effect on his teammates is easy to see from the outside, and often mentioned in media availability.
All three players were key reasons why their squads made the 2017-18 playoffs, and continue to be positive influences on the game of hockey.