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Messier Leadership Award Finalists: Ovechkin vs. Tavares vs. Weber

The NHL announced Wednesday that Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, New York Islanders forward John Tavares and Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber were finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which is given “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season,” 

Messier chooses potential candidates after taking suggestions from team and league personnel, along with NHL fans. He then chooses the winner.

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So which one of these guys will win The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award?

Why Alex Ovechkin Deserves The Messier Award

From the NHL:  

Ovechkin, Washington’s captain since January 2010, reached the 50-goal milestone for the seventh time this season to power the team to the Presidents’ Trophy as well as a franchise-record 56 wins. Off the ice, he expanded his relationship with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA), hosting nearly 60 children and adolescents during a unique skating session in October. An official spokesman for ASHA, Ovechkin received Washingtonian Magazine’s “Washingtonian of the Year” award for his work with special needs children. He also continued his Ovi’s Crazy 8s program, which was created in 2006 to provide Capitals season tickets for Most Valuable Kids and ASHA. 

Ovechkin’s maturity has been a big storyline this year. He has taken on a bigger role in the community, with the team and enjoyed the extra responsibilities. Ovechkin was also the undisputed leader on the team that has the best NHL regular season record. 

The Capitals have always been Ovechkin’s team, but he seems more focused to prove that he’s the right type of voice that can bring the group a championship.

Why John Tavares Deserves The Messier Award

From the NHL:

The Islanders’ captain since 2013-14, Tavares led the club to its second consecutive 100-point season in 2015-16. He also continued his Teammates Program, which has provided tickets and VIP game experiences for sick and underprivileged children – from Special Olympics and Ronald McDonald House, among others – for the past five campaigns. To date, Tavares personally has spent more than $32,000 to create these special game experiences. He also spearheaded the Islanders’ fundraising for their Military Appreciation Night in November, offering a $5,000 donation to help the team host more than 300 active and retired service members at a game. 

Tavares has arguably taken over from New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist as the top player in the New York area.

He went on a surge down the stretch of the NHL’s regular season to help his team make the playoffs with 12 points in his last seven games. His nine points in six games helped beat the Florida Panthers in the first-round of the playoffs.

Tavares' skill has also been an important in helping the Islanders lay the foundation for their new Brooklyn home.

Why Shea Weber Deserves The Messier Award

The NHL says:

Weber, Nashville’s captain since 2010-11, reached the 20-goal and 50-point milestones for the third time to guide the Predators to their second straight playoff berth. He also is a leader with several charitable organizations both in Nashville and his hometown. Weber – along with teammate Pekka Rinne – started the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which raises money and donates tickets to patients at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. That initiative has contributed more than $700,000 since its inception in 2013-14. In his hometown of Sicamous, B.C., Weber partners with the Sicamous Shootout to host a golf tournament in support of the BC Cancer Society.

Weber’s steady demeanor helped the Predators to another playoff berth, and was a major factor in Nashville’s ability to beat the Anaheim Ducks in the postseason’s first-round.

Weber was drafted by the Predators in 2003, and has been one of the constants that kept the team stable through ownership uncertainty and a coaching change in 2014.

It hasn’t been total smooth sailing for Weber in Nashville. He signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2012 and that stigma seemed to follow him for a few years after. But it no longer seems to be an issue.

His 443 career points rank first amongst team defensemen and third overall in Nashville's record book. Weber’s 166 career goals rank second in Predators history.

Who Wins The Messier Award?

Ovechkin. The narrative of his maturity after years of struggles is the perfect storyline for this award.

Who Should Win The Messier Award?

Tavares. He sets the tone for the Islanders, and has taken over the hockey landscape in New York. Also, wouldn’t it be something if Messier, a Rangers legend, chose an Islanders captain for his award?

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