COLUMBUS, OHIO – Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash has been named a finalist for the National Hockey League Foundation Player Award, presented annually to a player "in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in his community," the League and club announced May 4. The other finalists for the award are Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev and Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown.
NHL Clubs submitted nominations for the NHL Foundation Player Award and the finalists were selected by a judging panel. The NHL Foundation will present $25,000 to a charitable organization chosen by this year's winner. Nash is the first Blue Jackets player to be named a finalist for the NHL Foundation Player Award. The 2009 NHL Awards will be held at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 18. The event will be televised live on VERSUS in the United States at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Nash has become one of the most active Blue Jackets in the community, giving his time, money and support to improve the lives of people throughout central Ohio. He established the #61 Club to encourage students to make healthy choices and rewards those who do. Through the #61 Club Good Health Challenge, he provides more than 30 tickets to every Blue Jackets home game to students who make 61 healthy choices in a month. He donated $100,000 to The Ohio State University Athletics Department to endow a scholarship for a student-athlete and gave $25,000 as a founding donor of the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund in memory of the Blue Jackets founder and majority owner. He made a $5,000 contribution to the 2009 Quebec Pee Wee team that represented Columbus, to pay for travel expenses so families would be able to attend with their children. For the past four years, he has donated $15,000 annually to Santa's Silent Helpers, which helps families with children, single mothers and the elderly in central Ohio who are experiencing financial hardships.
Nash also developed the "Rick Bands" program to promote leadership and character among local youths and has allocated the sales of the wristbands to benefit the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation in support of fighting pediatric cancer and promoting education and children's health and safety. Additionally, he serves as the spokesperson for several Blue Jackets charitable initiatives including The Columbus Dispatch Newspapers in Education program, which educates students in history, sportsmanship and health; the Jackets For Jackets program, which collected more than 1,200 coats during the holiday season; and the Time Warner Cable Adult Literacy Campaign, which educates the public about the importance of adult literacy.
In its 11th year, the NHL Foundation Player Award recognizes an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community. Past recipients honored for their charitable work were: Trevor Linden and Vincent Lecavalier (2008), Joe Sakic (2007), Marty Turco (2006), Jarome Iginla (2004), Darren McCarty (2003), Ron Francis (2002), Olaf Kolzig (2001), Adam Graves (2000), Rob Ray (1999), and Kelly Chase (1998).