Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, Wayne Simmonds of the Nashville Predators and Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes were named finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award on Wednesday. The award is given annually to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season and plays a role in his community growing the game of hockey.
The winner will be announced at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone at the Mandalay Bay Events Center sports and entertainment complex in Las Vegas on June 19.
Messier solicited suggestions from teams and League personnel and fans, but the former Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks captain makes the final selection of the three finalists and the winner.
Giordano, who also is a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL, finished second among players at his position in scoring with 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists), his NHL career high, and led the League with a plus-39 rating. He averaged 24:14 of ice time per game to lead Calgary, had 21 power-play points, six shorthanded points (four goals) and was an even or plus player in 58 of 78 games this season. The 35-year-old partnered with the Calgary Board of Education in 2014 to launch Team Giordano to promote improved physical fitness and academics, as well as leadership development, at five high-needs schools in the area. The initiative has raised $400,000 and has impacted the lives of 2,900 students. Giordano also participated in other community endeavors, including the Flames' literacy program and the Calgary Pride Parade.
Simmonds, a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award last season, had 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) in 79 games with the Philadelphia Flyers and Predators. Acquired by the Predators in a trade with the Flyers on Feb. 25, Simmonds has played 841 regular-season NHL games. Much of his off-ice work took place in Philadelphia where the 30-year-old forward is a board member of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (ESYHF), and while with the Flyers visited community rinks and engaged students. Simmonds was honorary chairman of the foundation's annual golf tournament four straight years and worked with the planning committee in hosting the organization's Willie O'Ree Skills Weekend, writing welcome letters to each participant. Simmonds hosted a different military unit in a private suite and met each group at the end of every other Flyers home game. He also hosted Wayne's Road Hockey Warriors to help grow the sport in his hometown of Scarborough, Ontario, since 2012.
Williams helped the Hurricanes qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008-09. The 37-year-old forward, named Hurricanes captain Sept. 13, had 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games; reaching the 50-point mark for the seventh time in his 18 NHL seasons. A three-time Stanley Cup champion, Williams also mentored the youth hockey community in North Carolina, where he helped coach the Junior Hurricanes Under-10 team and assisted local girls' hockey events. His efforts extended to his hometown of Cobourg, Ontario, where he hosted the annual Justin Williams Skills Development Camp in support of charity over the summer.