This year's Lester Patrick Award Luncheon promises to be a showcase of hockey greatness. The event will be held on Monday, November 6 at Joe Louis Arena.
The five recipients of one of hockey's most prestigious awards include Steve Yzerman, long-time captain and now vice president of the Detroit Red Wings; NHL legend and University of Michigan men's hockey coach Gordon "Red" Berenson; long-time Red Wing defenseman Reed Larson; former NHL and college coach Glen Sonmor; and former Red Wing and Hall of Fame member Marcel Dionne.
The Lester Patrick Award honors recipients for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, and was presented to the NHL by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach, and general manager, and was a pioneer in the sport's development.
Among those eligible to win the Lester Patrick Award are players, coaches, broadcasters, referees and linesmen, as well as team and league executives.
With the addition of Berenson, Dionne, Larson, Sonmor and Yzerman, the list of individuals honored stands at 100, in addition to three U.S. Olympic hockey teams.
Tickets for this year's luncheon are $125 each, with all proceeds benefiting the USA Hockey Foundation. To order tickets, call 212-789-2114.
STEVE YZERMAN: Simply referred to as "The Captain," Yzerman is known for his skill, poise and leadership abilities both on and off the ice. His 22-year playing career with the Red Wings can best be described in one word, "excellence."
A consummate team player, Yzerman was selected fourth overall in the 1983 entry draft. Twenty-three years later, he can lay claim to being one of the few players in the modern era to play his entire career with the same team. He captained the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups, including back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998.
A 10-time NHL All-Star, Yzerman was a member of the NHL's All-Rookie team in 1984, won the Lester B. Pearson Award honoring the league's outstanding player in 1989; the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP in 1998; the Frank J. Selke trophy as the league's top defensive forward in 2000; and Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey" in 2003.
One of the most popular professional athletes in Detroit history, Yzerman is the Red Wings' career leader in playoff scoring. He ranks first in assists and is second only to Gordie Howe in games played, goals and regular-season points.
REED LARSON: Born in Minneapolis, Larson remains one of the all-time great players from the State of Hockey. He saw his hockey dream come full circle from his early hockey days in the Minnesota youth hockey program to playing for his hometown Minnesota North Stars in 1989.
Larson starred at Roosevelt High School, where he was named all-city and all-state in both his junior and senior years. He went on to capture the WCHA title in 1975 and NCAA title in 1976 with the University of Minnesota under the late Herb Brooks.
A steady defenseman, Larson broke into the NHL with the Red Wings, where he was runner-up for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. He was the first American-born player to score 200 career goals, recording five 20-goal seasons and eight 60-point campaigns in his 10 seasons with the Wings.
The epitome of dedication and professionalism, Larson was elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame 1996.
GORDON "RED" BERENSON: From minor hockey to the professional leagues, Berenson had a long and distinguished playing career. Combined together with his coaching career at the University of Michigan, he has contributed to the growth of hockey across the U.S. for more than 40 years.
Berenson spent three years at U-M, scoring 79 career goals. He was recognized as a two-time CCHA First Team All-Star and earned a place on the 1962 NCAA All-Tournament Team. In 1961, he became the first Canadian to enter the NHL straight from college hockey when he joined the NHL's Montreal Canadiens late in the season.
It wasn't until he was traded to the expansion St. Louis Blues, that Berenson would solidified his place on the Blues roster as a high-flying, goal-scoring, all-around solid performer. After 17 seasons as an NHL player, he joined the Blues' management ranks as an assistant coach and later assumed the head coaching duties until 1983.
The opportunity of a lifetime came for Berenson in 1984 when he took the head coaching position at his alma mater, U-M. His teams quickly became a force to be reckoned with in college hockey. He has led the Wolverines to two NCAA Championships, 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, seven CCHA playoff championships and nine CCHA regular-season titles.
GLEN SONMOR: One of the most colorful and popular figures in hockey, Sonmor has made his mark at the amateur and professional levels across North America, particularly in the state of Minnesota. Sonmor emerged from the OHA, WCHJL and USHL ranks to play three seasons in the AHL before making his NHL debut with the New York Rangers in 1953.
In 1955, Sonmor accepted an invitation to serve as the interim coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers before being named head coach in 1966. In five seasons as head coach, Sonmor was named the WCHA Coach of the Year for the 1969-70 season, and led the Golden Gophers to the WCHA title and NCAA runner-up in 1971.
Sonmor left the Gophers in 1971 and took the head coaching position with the St. Paul Fighting Saints in the upstart World Hockey Association. He returned to the NHL in 1978 when one of his former Gophers' assistant coaches, Lou Nanne, selected him to coach the Minnesota North Stars. He guided the North Stars on three different occasions from 1978-87, leading the club to its first Stanley Cup appearance against the New York Islanders in 1981
Sonmor has served as an amateur scout with the Minnesota Wild since the inception of the franchise, and is also the radio color-man for the Golden Gophers men's hockey team.
MARCEL DIONNE: One of the most exciting players in NHL history, Dionne graduated from the Ontario Hockey Association's St. Catharines Black Hawks after an outstanding junior career. Picked second behind Guy Lafleur in the 1971 Amateur Draft by the Red Wings, Dionne immediately made his mark in the NHL by posting a Red Wings' rookie record with 77 points in the 1971-72 season.
In his fourth NHL season, Dionne had emerged as an offensive superstar by scoring 121 points, trailing only Bobby Orr (135 pts) and Phil Esposito (127 pts). That same season, Dionne took home the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play.
Dionne became the "King of the Kings" when he signed as a free agent with Los Angeles in 1975, bringing his offensive magic to the West Coast. In just his second season in LA (1976-77), Dionne became the first player in club history to score 50-plus goals (53) and 100-plus points (122), a feat he duplicated five straight times from 1979-1983.
In 1979-80, as a member of the famed "Triple Crown Line," he posted the highest single-season point total of his career (137), winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's regular-season scoring champion. The naturally gifted playmaker and scorer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.