Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello was presented with his third Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, marking the first time the award has been given since Steven's death in January.
"[I'm] honored. It's a proud moment for me," Zuccarello said. "I think a lot of guys on our team could have had that award. I am really humbled that I was the one, especially this year. Every year, for me, this is the biggest award to win and I'm really proud of it. Obviously you couldn't have done it without your teammates and your team. I think everyone shares this award and especially this year."
The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award is presented annually to the Ranger who, as chosen by the fans, "goes above and beyond the call of duty." The award has been given annually since the 1987-88 season.
Steven's wife, Patti Ann, and son, Conor - who like Steven have become fixtures at Madison Square Garden for nearly 30 years - presented the award during a pregame ceremony that included a speech from Conor that did his father proud.
"I met him (Steven McDonald) a few times outside, so I know them a little bit," Zuccarello said. "So I just thought that he's here with us and to stay strong. I think it was an emotional moment for them and emotional for me as well. So just embrace the moment. I think it was a great day for all of us."
Zuccarello has been as popular a Ranger as there's been in New York since arriving on Broadway during the 2010-11 campaign, and he said it's the fans' support that adds another layer of honor to one already steeped in it.
"To have the fans vote for me it's really big," he said of the award, which garnered more than 10,000 votes. "I'm real excited and I'd like to thank everyone that voted for me. Like I said earlier there are a lot of guys on this team that deserve this prize, but for me to have it I'm honored and humbled that they picked me. It's something I am going to cherish for a long time."