Five members of the Chicago Blackhawks organization will be appearing at the 2009 National Hockey League Awards in Las Vegas at the Pearl Concert Theatre inside the Palms Hotel on Thursday, which can be seen live locally on VERSUS at 6:30 P.M. (CT). Right wing Kris Versteeg is one of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy while 2008 Rookie of the Year Patrick Kane
, team ambassadors and Hockey Hall-of-Famers Tony Esposito and Stan Mikita and Color Analyst Eddie Olczyk will be presenting awards at the show.
Versteeg is attempting to join Kane as the second consecutive member of the Blackhawks to capture the Calder Trophy, given annually to the League’s top rookie. The 22-year-old forward is a finalist with Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason and Anaheim Ducks right wing Bobby Ryan, with the award to be co-presented by Kane. Versteeg led NHL rookies with 31 assists, ranked second with 53 points and fourth with 22 goals in 78 regular-season games in 2008-09. Nine players have captured the Calder Trophy in Blackhawks history, including Mike Karakas (1936), Carl Dahlstrom (1938), Ed Litzenberger (1955), William Hay (1960), Esposito (1970), Steve Larmer (1983), Ed Belfour (1991) and Kane (2008).
Versteeg and Olczyk will be participating in the NHL Charity Shootout, presented by PokerStars.net on, Wednesday, June 17 at the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The tournament features current and former NHL players, including Alex Ovechkin, Jeremy Roenick, Cam Neely and Luc Robitaille, and celebrity participants and poker professionals such as Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Vanessa Rousso. Versteeg’s proceeds will be donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation of Lethbridge while Olczyk will be playing for the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Rene Douglas Fund. The event will be taped to create four hours of TV to air on ESPN Classic and ESPN2 in the United States.
Mikita will be presenting Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin the Art Ross Trophy, given annually to the League’s leading scorer, while Esposito will be presenting the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the League’s top goaltender. Mikita, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, captured eight major NHL awards during his 22-year Blackhawks career,
including the Hart Trophy (1967 and 1968), the Art Ross Trophy (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968) and the Lady Byng Trophy (1967 and 1968). Along with winning the Calder Trophy in 1970, Esposito was also awarded three Vezina Trophies (1970, 1972 and 1974) during his 17-year NHL career, 15 of which were spent with the Blackhawks. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.
In addition, Olczyk will be co-presenting the King Clancy Award, given annually to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.