"Taking care of the young generation of Lithuania, its employment and healthy lifestyle is a duty for every one of us," Lithuania president Dalia Grybauskaite said in a release. "Active public activities of famous people are an inspiration for young people, which promotes responsibility and concern, aspiration to work for Lithuania and for the benefit of Lithuania."
Zubrus, 35, is from the town of Elektrenai. He has been the only Lithuanian player in the NHL since Darius Kasparaitis retired following the 2006-07 season. When Zubrus received the award, he mentioned the potential for him to play for the Lithuanian national team at the 2014 World Championship Division I Group B, which will be played in Vilnius. Zubrus hasn't played for the national team since the 2005 World Championship Division I Group B tournament.
"When you get an Order for Merits from the hands of the President, I don't know how I could refuse to play for the national team," Zubrus said at a press conference. "Of course the NHL has first priority. But if we fail to make the playoffs and I'm healthy, I will come of course."
In 1,087 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and Devils, Zubrus has 208 goals and 548 points, and 35 points in 92 Stanley Cup Playoff games.