COLUMBUS, OHIO – Thursday, June 18 during the 2009 NHL Awards at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash was announced as the 2008-2009 recipient of 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 other finalists for the award included Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev and Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown. In recognition of this honor, the NHL Foundation will present $25,000 to the charitable organizations of Nash's choice.
"Being a professional hockey player is a privilege and I am extremely fortunate, as it has afforded me many opportunities to give back. I am honored to be this year's recipient of the NHL Foundation Player Award and am grateful that this honor will directly benefit the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund, Tim Hortons Children's Foundation and the Pelotonia Tour," said Nash.
In addition to the establishment of the #61 Club and the Columbus Dispatch-sponsored #61 Club Good Health Challenge created to reward kids for making smart and healthy choices, Nash's numerous contributions in the central Ohio region have supported a student-athlete scholarship endowment to The Ohio State University Athletics Department; the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund; Columbus' 2009 Quebec Pee Wee team; and Santa's Silent Helpers.
Additionally, he serves as the spokesperson for several Blue Jackets charitable initiatives including The Columbus Dispatch Newspapers in Education program, the Jackets For Jackets coat collection, and the Time Warner Cable Adult Literacy Campaign.
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).