Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla
is one of three finalists for the 2008-09 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award. The winner will be announced tonight, during the 2009 NHL Awards Banquet that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada (6:30 pm MT).
Iginla is a regular fixture at the end of season gala due to his consistently excellent play, but doesn't seem to be tired of the opportunity to attend the ceremony yet.
"I always feel fortunate to get to come to the awards, they're a great time. This was a great season for hockey and the NHL, wich our team was playing at the end but it was fun to watch."
Iginla and his wife Kara decided to leave their kids at home for the trip to Las Vegas, but don't expect to see them making late-night runs at any craps tables, according to Iginla, they both need a little rest and relaxation.
"We're going to keep it pretty low-key, take in a few shows, but we don't have the kids... it's a break, and (Kara) just wants to relax."
The other finalists for this year's Mark Messier Leadership award are Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award recognizes an individual as a superior leader in hockey and as a contributing member of society. It honors an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes.
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel and NHL fans in compiling a list of potential candidates. However, the selection of the three finalists and the ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
A six-time Stanley Cup champion and 16-time All-Star in his 25 NHL seasons, Messier is widely viewed as one of the greatest sports leaders of all time. Among his numerous hockey and humanitarian honors, the naming of the Mark Messier Skyway at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey for his 15 years of dedication and commitment to help raise millions of dollars to benefit children with cancer and other serious blood disorders is one of the most special.
Iginla grew up in Edmonton idolizing Messier, and he has spent his 12 seasons in the NHL following in the Hall of Famer’s leadership footsteps. Like Messier, Iginla plays with a combination of superior skill and fierce toughness.
Like Messier, he leads his team both with motivational words and fearless deeds. Iginla has led the NHL in goal-scoring twice, won the Art Ross Trophy in 2002 and scored a playoffs-leading 13 goals while driving the Flames to Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.
A five-time NHL All-Star and two-time Canadian Olympian, Iginla is a pillar of the Calgary community. Since 2000, he has been an ambassador for KidSport Calgary, which purchases equipment and pays registration fees for disadvantaged families, and donates $2,000 for every goal he scores. He supports the Juvenile Diabetes and Doctors Without Borders foundations and is a member of the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation.
Iginla is generous and tireless in donating his money and time to a variety of other causes, including literacy programs, hockey diversity initiatives and youth hockey programs. He was awarded the 2004 NHL Foundation Award for community service and the 2004 King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his humanitarian contributions.