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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Ryan Miller (Getty Images)
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Phoenix’s Shane Doan and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller are the three finalists for the 2009-10 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone, the National Hockey League announced today.

The award recognizes an individual as a superior leader in hockey and as a contributing member of society. It honors an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes.

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel and NHL fans through in compiling a list of potential candidates. However, the selection of the three finalists and the ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.

The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 23, during the 2010 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.

Messier, a six-time Stanley Cup champion and 16-time NHL ® All-Star in his 25 NHL seasons, is widely viewed as one of the greatest sports leaders of all time. Among his numerous hockey and humanitarian honors, the naming of the Mark Messier Skyway at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey for his 15 years of dedication and commitment to help raise millions of dollars to benefit children with cancer and other serious blood disorders is one of the most special.

Following are the finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, presented by Bridgestone in alphabetical order:

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby, at the tender age of 22, already has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals; became not only the youngest captain in NHL history but also the youngest captain to win the Stanley Cup; and scored the decisive goal in overtime to give Team Canada the gold medal in the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament.  While many are familiar with his on-ice accomplishments, Crosby also leads by example off the ice with his extensive charitable work within the community.  Sidney gives of his time generously during the season for Penguins’ related charitable causes including: the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Project Bundle-up, Penguins’ Charity practice and luncheon, several hospital visits and several post-game meet and greets for various charities.  He also most recently established his own foundation that focus on youth charities (Sidney Crosby Foundation).  In each of the past two seasons, he has teamed up with the Penguins and Dick’s Sporting Goods to introduce hockey to local youngsters by outfitting 600 area children from head to toe with hockey gear through the Little Penguins “Learn to Play Hockey” program. The Cole Harbour native recently was honored by his home province with the Order of Nova Scotia for his community service, another first for someone his age.

Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Doan, the last remaining player from the franchise’s days in Winnipeg, has served as captain of the Coyotes for past six seasons and has ingrained himself in the Phoenix community ever since the organization moved in 1996-97.  He has established himself as a leader both on and off the ice and for years has been considered one of the most respected players in the game, as evidenced by his being selected as Team Canada’s captain at the World Championships for three straight years (2007-09).  Through a bankruptcy proceeding and relocation rumors to a coaching change late in the preseason, Doan kept the Coyotes together this year as they reached new heights on the ice, shattering the franchise records for wins (50) and points (107) in a single season. But most notably, amid the off-ice turmoil, Doan led his team to a place no one expected them to reach a year ago: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  His commitment to his teammates, franchise and city of Phoenix was most evident when, on Dec. 17, Doan became the 42nd player in NHL history to play 1,000 games with one franchise and the 24th player to do it with the team that drafted him.  In the Phoenix community, Doan has long been considered one of the most selfless professional athletes in a city that is home to four major professional sports teams.  He serves as an ambassador for Coyotes Charities and works with a number of organizations including the United Blood Services, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix Rescue Mission and Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit organization that arranges for professional photographers to visit terminally ill children and take uplifting family portraits.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Drafted by Buffalo in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Miller has been a member of the Sabres for all seven of his NHL seasons.  Miller notably represented Team USA at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, earning a silver medal while being selected MVP of the tournament. While earning his place as one of the League leaders in wins, goals-against average and save percentage this season, Miller also remained extremely dedicated to his work off-ice within the community.   As the face of the Sabres, Miller is often called upon to assist with the Buffalo Sabres Foundation in its numerous community events and activities. He regularly spends time after games with fans that are ill, disabled or in need. Miller also participates in experiences that generate significant funds for the Buffalo Sabres Foundation despite the constant demands on his time.  Most prominent is his work with the Steadfast Foundation – the organization he founded to benefit those afflicted and affected by the consequences of cancer, especially childhood forms of the disease.  Inspired by his young cousin’s battle with leukemia, the Steadfast Foundation is a personal passion of Miller’s and has supported numerous patients and their families during difficult times.  

Previous winners of the Mark Messier Leadership Award
2006-07 – Chris Chelios, Detroit Red Wings
2007-08 – Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs
2009-08 – Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
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