LAS VEGAS -- Former National Women's Hockey League forward Denna Laing was saluted at the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday.
Laing, 26, was playing for the Boston Pride when she sustained a severe spinal-cord injury during the 2016 Women's Winter Classic on Dec. 31, 2015. She has been focused on her rehabilitation at Journey Forward, an exercise-based program in Canton, Massachusetts, devoted solely to helping those with spinal-cord injuries.
Laing and former NHL forward Bobby Carpenter, her training and race partner for the Boston Marathon on April 21, were among the presenters. After she received a video tribute and a standing ovation from the audience at T-Mobile Arena, Laing and Carpenter introduced award-winners Nick Foligno, the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets who won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, as well as New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic, winner of the NHL Foundation Player Award.
Laing, who was making her first trip to Las Vegas, said she continues to devote time and effort to her rehabilitation and has turned her attention to the summer ahead.
Video: Denna Laing applauded for determination after injury
"It's going well," she said. "I'm excited for the summer. I really like hanging out at the lake, on the boats, and I'm excited to start that.
"I'm still working 14 hours at Journey Forward a week, and rowing, I do that about three times a week. I'm really trying to still improve that core strength and upper-body strength. It's going better and going well."
On June 13, her younger sister Brianna Laing, 22, signed with Boston of the NWHL.
"She's very excited and we're very excited for her," Laing said. "It's going to be cool to see a Pride 'Laing' jersey back on the ice."
Laing admitted her sister's signing was something of an emotional moment.
"I'm definitely proud of her and happy to get to continue to cheering her on," she said.
Was there any advice passed from sister to sister?
"Just have fun, enjoy it," the elder Laing said. "It's definitely special. I think she's going to have a good time coming together with a lot of those girls. When I was there, it was all my best friends playing. So I hope she gets to experience something similar."