The Columbus Blue Jackets announced the winners of their Team Awards for the 2007-08 season. The winners of the awards are as follows:
Most Valuable Player Award – Pascal Leclaire
Awarded to the player deemed "most valuable" to the team - as voted by fans via on-line voting.
Pascal Leclaire received 38.4 percent of the votes placed from April 7 through April 14 to win the Award. Left wing Rick Nash finished second in voting with 28.0 percent, while right wing Nikolai Zherdev was third with 19.1 percent. Leclaire went 24-17-6 with a 2.25 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and nine shutouts in 54 games in 2007-08, ranking among NHL goaltending leaders and setting club records in goals-against average (seventh), save percentage (11th) and shutouts (second). His 24-17-6 record was the best in club history and his nine shutouts nearly doubled the previous record of five set by Marc Denis in 2002-03 and 2003-04.
Most Improved Player Award – Pascal Leclaire
Awarded to the player deemed to have improved the most during the course of the regular season - as voted by the team's television and radio broadcasters.
The 2007-08 season was a breakout one for Pascal Leclaire as the club's first pick, eighth overall, in the 2001 Entry Draft emerged as one of the NHL's top netminders as he set new career highs in every goaltending statistical category in 2007-08. Here is a look at Leclaire's yearly statistics over his first three NHL seasons:
2005-06 11-15-3, 3.23 GAA, .911 SV%, 0 SO in 33 games
2006-07 6-15-2, 2.97 GAA, .897 SV%, 1 SO in 24 games
2007-08 24-17-6, 2.25 GAA, .919 SV%, 9 SO in 54 games
"John H. McConnell" Most Courageous Player Award – Rick Nash
Awarded to the player who "day in and day out exhibited hard work, dedication and a willingness to overcome obstacles in his commitment to the team" - as voted by Blue Jackets players.
Left Wing Rick Nash registered a career-high 38-31-69, 95 penalty minutes and was +2 in 80 games in 2007-08, leading the club in goals, points, power play goals (10), game-winning goals (six), shorthanded goals (four, tying the club record) and shots on goal (329, club record). He played in his third-straight All-Star Game at Philips Arena in Atlanta on January 27 and set an ASG record by scoring a goal just :12 into the game and went on to score two more to record the 15th hat trick in the game's history.
Three Stars Award – Rick Nash
Awarded to the player who accumulated the most points in voting for the Three Stars of the Game throughout the course of the regular season (1st Star – 5 pts., 2nd Star – 3 pts., 3rd Star – 1 pt.)
Rick Nash edged out Pascal Leclaire to win this award for the fourth-straight season. Here is a look at the final voting for the 2007-08 season (1st Star-2nd Star-3rd Star, Pts.):
Rick Nash 9-5-4, 64 pts.
Pascal Leclaire 9-4-3, 60 pts.
Nikolai Zherdev 7-4-5, 52 pts.
Jason Chimera 2-3-2, 21 pts.
Sergei Fedorov 2-2-1, 17 pts.
Manny Malhotra 1-2-5, 16 pts.
Fredrik Norrena 0-3-4, 13 pts.
Adam Foote 0-4-0, 12 pts.
Jared Boll 1-1-2, 10 pts.
Rostislav Klesla 0-2-2, 8 pts.
Dan Fritsche 0-2-2, 8 pts.
Jiri Novotny 0-2-1, 7 pts.
Michael Peca 1-0-1, 6 pts.
Fredrik Modin 0-2-0, 6 pts.
Kris Russell 1-0-1, 5 pts.
Clay Wilson 1-0-1, 5 pts.
David Vyborny 0-1-1, 4 pts.
Ron Hainsey 0-0-1, 1 pt.
Derek MacKenzie 0-0-1, 1 pt.
Aaron Rome 0-0-1, 1 pt.
Outstanding Defenseman Award – Jan Hejda
Awarded to the team's top defenseman - as voted on by members of the local media.
Playing in his first season as a Blue Jacket and second in the NHL, Jan Hejda played in 81-of-82 games during the 2007-08 season and collected 0-13-13 and 61 penalty minutes with a +20 plus/minus rating. His plus/minus rating shattered the club record of +13 set by Ron Hainsey in 2005-06, ranked 10th-tied among NHL defensemen and was tied for 24th among all NHL players.
Columbus Blue Jackets Player Community Service Award – Dan Fritsche
Awarded to the player who went above and beyond off the ice in support of charitable initiatives benefiting those in need throughout the community - as selected by the Blue Jackets Foundation and community development staff.
Dan Fritsche is this year's Player Community Service Award winner. Dan purchased tickets and T-shirts for his "Fritsche's Friends" program, which gave kids from Nationwide Children's Hospital the chance to attend a Blue Jackets game and meet him afterwards. He is heavily involved in activities supporting the Blue Jackets Foundation and its Hats For Heroes program, including regular visits to patients and Nationwide Children's Hospital (see picture below) and hosting Hats For Heroes Night at bd's mongolian barbeque restaurants. He also served as a celebrity spokesman for the Columbus Metropolitan Library Summer Reading Program; is active in the promotion of youth hockey; and donated his time to a variety of charity events throughout Central Ohio.