First awarded following the 2006-07 season, the honor is given to "the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans in compiling a list of potential candidates before personally selecting the three finalists and ultimately the winner.
Alfredsson, the NHL's longest-serving active captain, is the Senators' all-time leader in numerous categories, including games played, goals, assists and points. He has taken a leadership role off the ice as well, working with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, and the Sens Foundation.
Alfredsson has supported the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa for the past 10 seasons, purchasing tickets and suites for club members to attend Senators games and serving as title sponsor of Ringside for Youth, the club's primary fundraising event during the season. Since 2008, he has been the spokesperson and champion for the Royal's "You Know Who I Am" campaign, leading the way to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental-health issues. In addition, Alfredsson has supported the Royal's "Do It for Daron" campaign to assist in raising the profile of youth mental-health issues.
"What he brings to the table is that calmness, working hard," Senators goalie Craig Anderson told the Senators' website about Alfredsson. "He's the hardest working guy in the room. Sometimes you guys [the media] don't see that side of him. He's a guy that he's tired, he's had a long day, a couple days of practice or we've played a lot of games in a row, yet he's the first guy out there working on his game or he's the first guy in the weight room making sure he's ready to go. I think that's rubbed off on the guys. His preparation level. He's a leader by example and when he does talk you listen."
Brown has spent his entire eight-season NHL career with the Kings, serving as their captain for the past five seasons. He was selected as the Kings' Most Popular Player this season and is known for his physical playing style, which consistently places him among the League leaders in hits.
Capitalizing on his aggressive style of play to help others, Brown makes a $50 donation for each hit he delivers to his opponents -- a contribution he has made since the 2008-09 season. Those benefiting from this charitable initiative include the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and KABOOM!, a relationship that has raised $60,000 and culminated with a special playground built in Carson, Calif., in September 2010.
Toews received the captaincy from the Blackhawks in 2008 when he was 20 years old, making him the fourth-youngest captain in NHL history. His leadership on the ice is undisputed, and his role off the ice with various children's charitable causes makes him an undeniable role model to fans.
Toews volunteers to grant wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and visits with patients at the local children's hospital and the Misericordia Home in Chicago. Last fall, he returned home to join the Winnipeg Patrolmen Hockey Club and other NHL players for the "Goals for Dreams Hockey Challenge," which helped raise $80,000 for the Children's Hospital Foundation and the Dream Factory, a charity that grants dreams for critically and chronically ill children.
"It's definitely a huge honor," Toews said. "Criteria that's required for that award is definitely something special. I've said it before, if you're ever nominated for something, an individual award, much of it has to do with your team and your teammates and how they helped you get to that position. I owe it to those guys. When they need someone to recognize, it feels good, but I pretty much owe everything to my teammates and the guys in this locker room."