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Brown, Kovalev, Nash named NHL Foundation Award finalists

by John McGourty
Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown, Montreal Canadiens right winger Alex Kovalev and Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Rick Nash have been named finalists for the 11th annual NHL Foundation Player Award in recognition of their commitment and service to charities in their communities.

The NHL Foundation will present $25,000 to a charity selected by the winner. The winner will be on hand when the 2009 NHL Awards will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on June 18 on VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada. Tickets to the 2009 NHL Awards are on sale at and at the Pearl Concert Theater Box Office.

Here is a closer look at the finalists.

Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings -- Brown, 24, has shown excellent leadership skills in his five NHL seasons, leading to his designation this season as team captain, the youngest in Kings' history. Brown also has been a leader in the community, helping to raise money for numerous Southern California charities.

He was named the Los Angeles Kings "Hometown Hero" at the Southern California Sports Choice Awards. He also was recognized as a 2009 Outstanding Young Californian by the California Jaycees Foundation and the California Junior Chamber in recognition of his "commitment to challenge and inspire California's youth."

He has been an enthusiastic and effective fundraiser for Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the Children's Cancer Research Fund. He supported the Kings 4 Kids Night that raised more than $25,000 for the research fund and took phone pledges for the hospital's campaign that raised more than $1 million. Brown has made numerous appearances and filmed public-service announcements for the hospital.

Dustin and Nicole Brown even included a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in their wedding. Dustin Brown also participates in the Kings Annual Youth Hockey Camp, the Kings Annual Rink Tour, Tip-A-King, the Kings Charity Golf Tournament and the Adopt-A-Family program that provides holiday gifts for underprivileged families.

In an effort to combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles, Brown has partnered with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that seeks to provide play places within walking distance of every child in America.

After leading the NHL with 331 hits last season, Brown promised $50 for every hit he delivered this season. Brown led the Kings and was third in the NHL with 285 hits. So, he'll contribute $14,250 to build a playground in his hometown of Ithaca, N.Y.
Brown also participated in the construction of a playground at the Bellflower (CA) YMCA.
Alex Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens -- Kovalev, a skilled player and a big man with broad shoulders, has carried more NHL teams than Air Canada. With his big heart, it's fitting that Kovalev has directed a lot of his off-ice energy to combating childhood heart diseases.

He created the Kovalev and Friends Foundation for Children which supports the sharing of medical knowledge by sending doctors to his Russian homeland to perform surgeries and teach skills to local surgeons. The Foundation also benefits Quebec children with heart conditions through summer camps and other initiatives.

Kovalev has donated 100 percent of the proceeds, over $120,000, of his March 2008 DVD, “My Training Methods,” to the Gift of Life Foundation, an organization that provides life-saving open-heart surgeries for children. Awarded the 2008 Jean Beliveau Trophy as the Canadiens player who best exemplifies leadership qualities in the community, Kovalev turned over the $25,000 honorarium to the Kovalev and Friends Foundation for Children.

He hosts more than 300 children every year in the Kovy's Kids Suite at the Bell Centre during home games, providing sick and underprivileged children with food, gifts, autographed tuques, arts and crafts, games, and visits from team alumni and the mascot, Youppi! He raised more than $12,000 for the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation through the sale of his autographed tuques.

Kovalev generously supports the Canadiens' annual golf charity tournament, makes hospital visits, donates to blood drives and enjoys opportunities to mix with children at team affairs.

Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Nash is not only the Blue Jackets scoring leader, he's also their captain and a leader in community relations. Nash has supported a wide range of Columbus-area charities.

Nash established the #61 Club to encourage students to make healthy choices and rewards those who do with tickets to Blue Jackets games. He donated $100,000 to The Ohio State University Athletics Department to endow a scholarship for a student-athlete and contributed $25,000 as a founding donor to the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund, in memory of the team's founder and majority owner.

He has contributed $15,000 annually for the past four years to Santa's Silent Helpers, which helps families with children, single mothers and the elderly in Central Ohio who are experiencing financial difficulties.

When the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets competed in the 2009 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, Nash contributed $5,000 to help with family travel expenses.

Nash developed "Rick Bands," which come in red for dedication, blue for believe and silver for character, and donates proceeds from their sale to the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation to fight pediatric cancer, and to support education and children's healthy and safety.

Nash is the spokesman for several Blue Jackets' charitable initiatives, including the Columbus Dispatch Newspapers in Education program; the Jackets for Jackets program that collected 1,200 winter coats, and the Time Warner Cable Adult Literacy Campaign.
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