Jed Ortmeyer thanks Officer Steven McDonald on Thursday at Madison Square Garden after being announced as the winner of the team's Extra Effort award named in McDonald's honor.
For the second time in three seasons, Rangers fans have voted Jed Ortmeyer as the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, presented by HIP Health Plan of New York. Ortmeyer was honored before the Rangers' final regular season home game, against the Montreal Canadiens, for going "above and beyond the call of duty."
Officer Steven McDonald, his wife Patty, and son Conor, presented Ortmeyer with the award in a special pre-game ceremony. The three took the ice, and Officer McDonald started out thanking the Dolan family, the Rangers and the "greatest fans in hockey."
McDonald described how the Rangers came to his hospital room and gave him a challenge so many years ago – a challenge to "live" through the gunshot wounds that threatened his life. After describing that moment, McDonald left the current Rangers with his own challenge, summed up in one word: "Win."
The crowd erupted in cheers, and Conor then announced the winner. A "Let's Go Rangers" chant dominated the Garden as Ortmeyer collected his award and posed for pictures with the McDonald family.
Tom Scandaliato from HIP also presented Ortmeyer with a $25,000 check for the Steve McDonald Foundation.
Ortmeyer played in 40 games this season for the Blueshirts. He missed the first half of the season after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in August 2006.
On November 21 he was cleared for non-contact practice followed by full contact practice three days later. His next step toward coming back to an NHL game was a conditioning stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack. He rejoined the Rangers on January 2, 2007 against the New Jersey Devils.
Ortmeyer excels as a penalty killer and ranked first among forwards on the team last season in blocked shots. His 75 blocked shots also placed him seventh among NHL forwards for the 2005-06 season.
The battle with a pulmonary embolism did not stop the forward from picking up right where he left off last season. His hard work on the penalty kill paid off for the team in just his sixth game back against Boston on January 13. While on the penalty kill, he took the puck towards the Bruins net and was dragged down from behind. The referee awarded Ortmeyer with his first career penalty shot and the winger gave the team a much needed insurance goal with under three minutes to go in the third period.
Off the ice, Ortmeyer has participated in many of the Rangers' team charity events. While sidelined and recovering in the first three months of the season, he visited Philip J. Sousa Middle School and helped students decorate their Motivational Stairwell. He helped collect toys and signed autographs during the Rangers annual Holiday Toy Drive at Bryant Park and also skated alongside Rangers fans in January at the eleventh annual "Skate with the Greats" benefit at Rockefeller Center. The event helped raise more than $1.2 million for the Ronald McDonald House of New York.
Ortmeyer also spoke with charity groups who were brought to Madison Square Garden by the Rangers and Garden of Dreams for Charity Suite Dream Night.
He donated one of his autographed jerseys, in memory of a child he used to visit in the hospital when he played for the University of Michigan, to the Jacob Michael Davis Foundation. He also donated signed pucks and a jersey for his alma-mater for a Scholarship Fundraiser that they hold annually.
Fans were able to vote online at www.newyorkrangers.com or during Rangers home games between March 9, 2007 and March 31, 2007. All fans that voted were eligible to win an autographed jersey by the winner of the award.
The award has been given out annually since 1988.
In agreement with Ortmeyer's dedication to the team, the Professional Hockey Writers Association in New York voted him as the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee. The NHL award is given annually to "the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."