Deryk Engelland didn't just lead a hockey team this season. He led a city.
Engelland's response to the October 1 shootings in Las Vegas and how he continues to follow through on his promise to do whatever he can to help those affected by tragedy goes beyond the arena of sport. Engelland is not only a leader in the Golden Knights dressing room, he's a community leader in Las Vegas.
The NHL announced Tuesday the finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award and Engelland is joined by Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
Video: Engelland on the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award
The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award has been awarded since 2006-07 and is awarded "to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." Suggestions for nominees are solicited from fans, clubs and NHL personnel, but the selection of the three finalists and the ultimate winner is made by Messier, one of the finest leaders in NHL history; the six-time Stanley Cup champion is one of three players to have captained three teams (Edmonton, N.Y. Rangers, Vancouver).
"It's a huge honor to be nominated. Especially with all the company around the league and the great leaders here," said Engelland.
Engelland has been a fixture in the Las Vegas community for years and after joining the Vegas Golden Knights last summer, he's been able to give back to his community throughout the entire NHL season.
Following the October 1 shooting, Engelland and his wife Melissa were integral in developing the Vegas Strong Hero of the Game program which involves Engelland purchasing tickets for home games for victims or first responders.
All of Engelland's guests were directly impacted by the tragedy on October 1 - police officers, trauma surgeons, gunshot victims, families of the deceased, nurses, etc. Melissa meets each guest before the game, thanks them, provides them with a jersey and shirt, and gets to know them during the game. Immediately following the game, Engelland meets them as well. He takes time to speak with each person and hear their story. He has continued to stay in contact with many of these guests.
Before our home opener on October 10, Engelland spoke on behalf of the team and organization giving an incredible speech prior to the franchise's first home game.
"These were the most unfortunate circumstances for Vegas, but you try to do whatever you can to give back to those people that were affected by it, and the city," said Engelland. "The people of the city. Your try to help them heal and you hear stuff still about how letting them come to a game is just shutting off for a few hours. So it's the least we can do for what went down and like I said, it's a huge honor to be nominated for this."
Engelland has been known as a consummate teammate throughout his career. He'll stick up for his teammates and his approach to the game is a fine example for teammates to follow.
"I'm pretty quiet, you know. I try to lead by example on the ice, work ethic, and then it's helping the young guys out. Showing them the way that you think is right," he said. "They're the up and coming guys on the team and you want the best for them. You just want to point them in the right direction and do the best you can to help them succeed."
Engelland is also involved with the Ronald McDonald House. He held an event at retail store John Varvatos in February where a portion of the proceeds sold that day went to the Ronald McDonald House, helping families of hospitalized children.
Also, during the holiday season, Engelland partnered with Three Square and spent the day preparing and serving the less fortunate in Las Vegas.
For the last five years, Engelland has taken part in a local firefighters' charity hockey game to help raise money for children who couldn't afford to play. Their efforts have raised more than $40,000.