The Mark Messier Leadership Award is, of course, that one award that Mark Messier just...gives to some player for demonstrating leadership on and off the ice while contributing to the community. It’s an extremely non-transparent award, but the finalists are still usually people who do deserve recognition for good work. Most of us are already familiar with it; this is the trophy that former Predators captain Shea Weber won in 2016, a week before he was traded.
From the NHL PR statement:
Wayne Simmonds, RW, Nashville Predators
Simmonds reached the 800-game milestone while splitting the season between the Predators and Philadelphia Flyers (17-13—30 in 79 GP). While he finished the season in Nashville, the bulk of Simmonds’ off-ice work took place in Philadelphia. The 30-year-old forward participated as a board member of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (ESYHF) for the sixth consecutive year, visiting community rinks and engaging students. He served as honorary chairman of the foundation’s annual golf tournament – its largest fundraiser – for the fourth straight year. Simmonds also worked with the planning committee in hosting the organization’s Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend, writing welcome letters to each participant. In addition to his efforts with ESYHF, Simmonds continued his “Wayne’s Road Hockey Warriors” ball hockey fundraiser in his hometown of Scarborough, Ont., and donated a private Flyers suite to military personnel as part of his “Wayne’s Warriors” program.
The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation is a community-building program that also teaches kids hockey, or maybe a kids’ hockey program that also builds community. You can read about some of their initiatives—including life skills classes, academic tutoring, and scholarships—on their website if you’re interested in learning more, but overall it’s a fantastic program for the Philadelphia communities it supports. You can also learn more about the Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend on the NHL website.
I’m excited to see Simmonds getting recognized for his work and think he’s a great candidate for the award. We’ll find out in June whether he receives it.