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Nick Foligno wins King Clancy and Mark Messier awards

Foligno is the first player in NHL history to win both awards

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /

Nick Foligno had a busy night Tuesday. The Blue Jackets captain was awarded the 2017 King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the 2017 Mark Messier Leadership Award, making him the first NHL player to win both awards in the same year.

Foligno jokingly said "this is nuts!" as he was called to the stage for the second time. But for those who know what Foligno has accomplished on and off the ice, the accolades were no surprise.

"He's a tremendous person and that goes all the way to his family and what he's done off the ice to help other people," Jarmo Kekalainen said. "He's a tremendous leader on and off the ice. He is very deserving."

Leadership like Foligno's was the theme of the night in Vegas.

 Video: Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno talks to the media

The King Clancy award, voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and League broadcasters, goes to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.

Mark Messier's Leadership Award, in existence since the 2006-07 season, also honors leadership efforts on and off the ice but the winner is selected by Messier himself, a six-time Stanley Cup Champion and captain of three different NHL teams.

The other two finalists for the award were Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano and the captain of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf.

"Nick looks at leadership as that he represents himself, his family, and our hockey club," president of hockey operations John Davidson said. "In doing so, he proves there's a good person there. That's important. You go through life once, and at the end of it you look back and say 'Did I make a difference? Could I have done more?' I think he's doing his part."

Foligno's part this past season was a big one. Foligno produced the second highest point total of his career (26-25-51, 79 GP) and led the Blue Jackets to their first 50-win season and third playoff appearance in franchise history.

Off the ice, Foligno and his wife, Janelle, donated a total of $1 million to Nationwide Children's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital to further congenital heart care in honor of the oldest of their three children, Milana.

Foligno also continues to be involved in his family's foundation, the Janis Foligno Foundation named for his mother who lost her life to breast cancer. The Jackets' captain has also donated his time to numerous Central Ohio charities with his teammates throughout the season.

As if that wasn't enough, Foligno's efforts inspired partner campaigns from Papa John's Columbus, which donated $500 for every goal scored by the captain. And ESPN anchor John Buccigross matched that same donation through his "Buccigross overtime challenge" program.

Foligno's motivation to give back is something that came from values ingrained in him as a child, but also as he lived through challenges like losing his mother to illness at a young age, and watching his daughter fight through a heart condition at the very beginning of her life.

"I realize how fortunate I've been," Foligno said. "Even through the unfortunate things, it's really shaped me and molded me as a person to handle things in life and to know that what I'm doing is a way to impact other people in a positive way.

"With what we've been able to do with our donation, our foundation, and giving back, it's all because of hockey and the care we've gotten."

And while Foligno is excited to add two trophies to his mantel at home, he's not satisfied. The real work lies ahead for the captain who wants to add another trophy to his collection, the Stanley Cup.

"I'm the one getting the awards tonight," Foligno said. "But I've 23 guys with me (on our team) that have made a big difference in my career and allowed me to be where I am today. I couldn't be more proud of our group and how far we've come. Hopefully this is a sign that things are starting to turn in the right direction for our organization.

"We have a lot of work left to do." 

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