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NHL Awards Luncheon Transcript

Wednesday, 05.28.2008 / 4:10 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

By NHL Public Relations


Bill Clement gives his opening remarks at an awards luncheon prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh.
BILL CLEMENT: All right. Welcome everyone. I know this isn't church, but it still would be a good idea to turn your cell phones off if you could. Take a second to do that.
   
I know many faces here. For those who don't know me, I'm Bill Clement, and I'm here covering the Stanley Cup Final for NHL Radio. I'm thrilled to be here, a fantastic year for hockey. It's a pleasure to welcome you to the 2008 NHL Foundation Player Award luncheon. In its tenth year, the NHL Foundation Player Award recognizes an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey, commitment, perseverance and teamwork, but the Foundation Player Award recognizes these qualities when they're used to enrich the lives of people in the community.

Past recipients of the NHL Foundation Player Award include Joe Sakic, Marty Turco, Jarome Iginla, Darren McCarty, Ron Francis, Olaf Kolzig, Adam Graves, Rob Ray and Kelly Chase. For the first time, the Foundation Committee determined this year that there were two players equally worthy of the NHL Foundation Award and $25,000 will be presented to each of their designated charities; they are Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks.
   
In 1990 Trevor Linden established the Trevor Linden Foundation in British Columbia, and has granted over $650,000 to the Canadian Camp GoodTimes, a camp for children and their families, coping with cancer.
   
Funds were used to construct a gymnasium for children and was named in Trevor's honor. Throughout the 2007/2008 season, he continued his charitable initiatives in BC, leading his team in numerous fund raising events for Canuck for Kids Fund, raising more than $25 million. Any time he visited children and families at Canuck Place or BC Children's Hospital or Ronald McDonald House in BC, he always encouraged the entire team to join him. I would ask you to direct your attention to the video screen, please.
   
To present the awards, we welcome to the stage one of the most recognized faces in hockey, and one of the most popular people in the entire sport, 25 year vice president of the National Hockey League and a Hall of Famer Jim Gregory.

Trevor Linden receives the 10th annual NHL Foundation Award, recognizing the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey (commitment, perseverance and teamwork) from NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jim Gregory, in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, May 28, 2008.
JIM GREGORY: Trevor Linden has played the majority of his 20 year career with the Vancouver Canucks, and continues to be regarded as a heroic and endearing leader, both on and off the ice.
         
Our first co recipient of the NHL Foundation Player Award, Trevor Linden.

TREVOR LINDEN: Thanks, Jim. Bill, I just want to thank the National Hockey League for the privilege of being part of the greatest game on earth. And I also want to salute Vincent Lecavalier and say what an honor it is for me to share this award with him.
   
Twenty years ago, when I came into the League, the Vancouver Canuck and the Griffiths family, Pat Quinn was the manager at the time, showed me being responsible to the people in your community is very important. I want to thank the community of Vancouver, the children out there for allowing me into their lives. It's been a very special journey. So thank very much.
 
BILL CLEMENT: We thank Trevor for his dedication and his accomplishments. Undoubtedly, Trevor, you're an inspiration to the community of Vancouver.
   
Vincent Lecavalier represents the future of the NHL. In 2007 he was rewarded for his on ice accomplishments, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy. Now we're proud to honor Vinny for his commitment and dedication to improving the quality of lives of children.
  
Established in 2003, his foundation supports children's charities in both Canada and the United States, and in October of 2007 he announced a $3 million commitment to build the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. Scheduled to open in 2009, the center will be one of the largest pediatric cancer centers in Florida, with 28 individual patient rooms with accommodations for parents to stay overnight with their child.
   
And as he demonstrates on the ice, Vinny demands excellence in everything that he does. The entire center is designed with a special HEPA filtered positive airflow system that allows young patients whose immune systems may be suppressed due to chemotherapy the chance to move freely in the unit and not be restricted to their rooms.
 
It's pretty easy to tell that Vinny sees hockey not only as a profession, but also as a platform that he can use to improve the lives of others. Ladies and gentlemen, Vinny Lecavalier.

Vincent Lecavalier receives the 10th annual NHL Foundation Award, recognizing the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey (commitment, perseverance and teamwork) from NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jim Gregory, in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, May 28, 2008.
JIM GREGORY: I just wanted to say thanks to the NHL for allowing me the honor to do this.
   
VINCENT LECAVALIER: First, I'd like to congratulate Trevor for receiving the award. I'd like to thank the NHL for giving me this award. It's really a great honor. The people working for my foundation are working very hard. And Liz William and Erwin Novak from Kane's Furniture, our partners. And Dan Doyle from DEXimaging. And last but not least, I'd like to thank All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, the workers over there working, helping the kids every day through their tough times. And all these kids are going through so many things in their lives, so many battles. I'd like to thank them. So thank you very much and (French) thank you.
   
BILL CLEMENT: Thank you, Vinny, for your terrific work with children, and also representing the NHL and the community.
   
Jim Gregory, that might have been the nicest speech you have ever delivered. (Laughter) Thank you, Jimmy.
   
As each NHL season launches and pushes forward into the playoffs and on to the awarding of the Stanley Cup, an inevitable topic of conversation always surfaces, and it is leadership. Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job, and it takes all the good characteristics like: integrity, dedication, purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, a high pain threshold helps once in a while, and a determination not to accept failure.
   
In 2006, the NHL created the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and for the first time this year, it is being presented as an annual award.
   
We welcome to the podium to present his own award, the greatest leader the sport of hockey has ever known, Mark Messier.
  
MARK MESSIER: Nice to see Jim get through his speech without crying as well. (Laughter) Good job. Finally found somebody that cries more than I do.
   
But I'm obviously humbled and honored to have my name associated with this award. And it's something that I feel, obviously, very passionate about. And I would really like to thank the NHL, especially Gary Bettman and Bill Daly and Ed Horne, who really saw the significance and what the award really stood for. And to acknowledge our players not only for what they were accomplishing on the ice, but also their initiatives off the ice.
   
I was fortunate to play 25 or 26 years professionally. And I, like any other person that comes into the League as an 18 year old, your whole focus is on hockey. I was lucky to play long enough that I got to understand that being a professional athlete is more than just going on the ice and trying to win the coveted trophy that we play for. It's about being approachable. It's about conducting yourself in a professional manner on and off the ice. And being a role model for all our kids.
   
Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin poses with Hall of Famer Mark Messier after being awarded the Mark Messier Leadership Award at a luncheon prior to Game 3.
When people are looking at us, we represent the NHL in a good light. And I really think that this is what this award is supposed to really represent.
   
The award itself, if I can just read it for you, really -- and this is what will be on the award: The Mark Messier Leadership Award recognizes players for their athletic performance, ability to motivate and influence teammates, a commitment to the community and charitable causes, and the dedication to a professional attitude as a representative of their sport, and as a positive role model within society.
   
Probably I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for Mats, from the time he came into the League, and what he's been able to do over a long career. I think I know firsthand what it's like to play in a market like Toronto, with the pressures of being a player there, not only being a player, but also being a captain, and the responsibility that he has not only to his teammates and to the history and to the tradition of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but also to do the right things and to be a role model in that community.
   
And I think Mats obviously has done that very well throughout his whole career, and really this year might be his most defining moment as a captain. And I think one of the things that you learn as you go through that, being a leader isn't always necessarily when times are going well. Leadership really is crucial when things are going poorly.
   
And in a tough year for the Toronto Maple Leafs, here we were two weeks to the end of the season there and they were thinking, it's a must win situation for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make the playoffs after a tremendous amount of controversy. And I think the only reason why they're in that position this year is because of Mats Sundin and the leadership that he provided under some trying circumstances.
   
Also, the way he handled himself in the media with the controversy of what was going to happen to him last year and the comments that he made about winning a championship for him was more about the journey. It wasn't about -- if indeed it did happen, he wanted to feel what it's like to go through an entire season winning a championship. And I really loved his comment about that.
   
His list of charitable accomplishments are too long to list, but I think the common thread that he has in all of them are children. And we are in a position as professional athletes, we want to be in a position as professional athletes, especially in the National Hockey League, to serve as role models. And it's a huge responsibility.
   
And the thing that struck me with Mats is all the things that he's doing. Most of the things he's doing are not only for children that are ill, but also for children that may be less fortunate. But he's definitely reaching out to the children, and I really admire him for that. Before we go any further, let's turn our attention to the screen and watch a video.
   
So without any further ado, congratulations, Mats Sundin, on being awarded the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
   
MATS SUNDIN: I like the long blond hair in one of the pictures there. That was a while ago. 
   
Sundin smiles after being presented with the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
Well, first of all, thank you very much, Mark.  Getting the recognition from Mark Messier is something you didn't expect, and arguably one of the best leader that's ever served this hockey game. I'm very proud of that. Thanks to the National Hockey League for working with Mark with this.
   
This award means even more to me. I think in that the award is towards not only leadership on the ice, but off the ice in the community. And I want to thank Leafs Fund, that works with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It really helps the Toronto Maple Leafs' players reach out to the community, and I think we all know the Toronto Maple Leafs has the best support from the community to the team and supports the hockey team through bad and good.
   
And that's why we have to give back to the community, too. So once again, thanks to Mark and the National Hockey League. Thank you very much.
   
BILL CLEMENT: Mark mentioned a role model, and there is no greater role model in the National Hockey League for a young person or a young player, than Mats Sundin.
   
The William M Jennings is an annual award given to the goal keepers who played a minimum of 25 games for the team, that allowed the few west goals against in the regular seasons. This year's winners, Hockey Town's Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek.
  
Okay. We toyed with the idea of sending a camera crew over to the hotel and waking them up in the middle of their afternoon naps for a live conference, but then we pictured the look that Mike Babcock would have on his face. That was scary enough. We didn't have to do that, anyway, because we have a couple of representatives from the Wings here to accept the award on behalf of Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood. Please welcome the GM of the Red Wings, Ken Holland, and Assistant Coach in goaltending guru, Jim Bedard. Gentlemen.
  
JIM BEDARD: I talked to Chris and Dom, obviously just before coming over here today, and definitely they are a little busy. They have some work to do tonight, which is a great thing. But one thing they wanted me to stress was obviously they think of this as a team trophy. They don't think of this as an individual trophy, and they want to make sure that was brought to the forefront.
   
And I just want to say in closing that it's -- when you see them work as hard as they do and you see two guys from two totally different sets of circumstances, one being a European, a little bit older and Ozzie being the young guy at 35, what they bring every day to practice, this is no surprise to me. And they just want to say thank you very much.
   
BILL CLEMENT: Really, could you picture the look on Bab's face?
   
The Art Ross Trophy has been awarded 59 times since it was created in 1948, and it goes to the NHL's leading points scorer in the regular season. And the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy is awarded to the League's top goal scorer in the regular season. It was first awarded in 1999.
   
Alex Ovechkin, receives the Art Ross Trophy, left, and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, right, for leading the league in points and goals respectively from Hall of Famer Mark Messier.
Only once have these trophies been awarded to one player in the same year, until this year. Now we can say it has happened twice.

It seems appropriate to ask the only 694 goal scorer in the room to present the Rocket Richard and the man who trails only Wayne Gretzky in career points to present the Art Ross Trophy. They're one in the same, so Mark, come on back up.
   
His goal scoring celebrations act really as windows through which we see the level of passion that this year's winner of these trophies brings to the ice surface. He's also a finalist for the Hart Trophy. Ten days ago he won a World Championship and he's traveled from Russia to be here with us today. From the Washington Capitals, Alex Ovechkin.
  
ALEX OVECHKIN: Thank you. I just want to say thanks to my team, my teammates, the Capitals organization and fans. It's a big honor to be here with you guys. Thank you.
   
BILL CLEMENT: In the world of professional athletics, national hockey players continue to be the most gracious, most humble and most concerned about the well being of their fellow man. Thank you for being part of the 2008 NHL Foundation Player Awards.