The Mark Messier Leadership Award

The Mark Messier Leadership Award
22 Jan
2023
Not in Hall of Fame

If you had asked us in 2006, we would have said there is no need for another individual hockey award.  We were wrong.

In the 2006/07 Season, five players were honored monthly as selected by the NHL based on qualifications, with Mark Messier deciding the recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award.  Those monthly winners were Brendan Shanahan (New York Rangers), Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim Ducks), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning), and Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks).  The year after, it was changed to being a yearly award.

There is no better player to name this after than Messier.  He is the only player to lead two NHL teams (Edmonton and New York) to a Stanley Cup as their captain.

The results are as follows:

There are currently five former Mark Messier Leadership winners who are Hockey Hall of Fame eligible, with four entering, yielding a percentage of 80.0. 

As this award has never been a repeat winner, the percentage by year remains the same.

The following are the past players who have won the NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award and are eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, and have been enshrined.

2007:  Chris Chelios, Detroit Red Wings, Defense.  0 Goals, 11 Assists, 11 Points, +11, 3.3 Point Shares.

At age 45, Chelios had been a leader for decades, and despite his age, he was in the NHL for three more seasons.  The American Defenseman had won three Norris Trophies, was a five-time First Team All-Star, and won three Stanley Cups, one with Montreal and two with Detroit.  It is hard to debate that this award did not get off to a perfect start.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

2008:  Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs, Center.  32 Goals, 46 Assists, 78 Points, +17, 9.8 Point Shares.

This was Sundin’s penultimate year in the NHL and his last with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  A Maple Leaf since 1994, Sundin was a leader on the ice since day one and was Toronto's best player for over a decade.  He had previously been a Second Team All-Star twice.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

2009:  Jarome Iginla:  Calgary Flames, Right Wing.  35 Goals, 54 Assists, 89 Points, -2, 9.5 Point Shares.

Iginla was not just Calgary's leader but had been the Flames best player for years.  This was his third First Team All-Star season, and seven years before, he was the winner of both the Art Ross and Lester B. Pearson Awards.  Iginla would later play for Pittsburgh, Boston, Colorado, and Los Angeles.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.

2013:  Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators, Right Wing.  10 Goals, 16 Assists, 26 Points, +1.  2.7 Point Shares.   

Alfredsson was in his 17th and final year as an Ottawa Senator, and while he couldn't lead them to a Stanley Cup, he was the leader on many good Senator teams.  He played one more year in Detroit and scored 1157 career Points.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022.

The following are the players who have won the NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award who are eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame and have not been selected:

2012:  Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes, Right Wing.  22 Goals, 28 Assists, 50 Points, -8, 5.0 Point Shares.    

Since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix, Shane Doan was the franchise's best and most important player when they were in Arizona.  Doan led the Coyotes to a Conference Final this year, and he was with Phoenix for his entire 21-year career.

Eligible since 2020.  Ranked #58 on Notinhalloffame.com.

The following are the players who have won the NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award who have retired but have not met the mandatory years out of the game to qualify for the Hockey Hall of Fame:

2011:  Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins, Defense.  14 Goals, 30 Assists, 44 Points, +33, 10.0 Point Shares. 

A Second Team All-Star this year, Chara was the Norris Trophy winner two years previous, and he was a First Team All-Star and Second Team All-Star twice before.  Chara led by example, and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup this year, mainly on what the big man did.

Eligible in 2025.

2014:  Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings, Right Wing.  15 Goals, 12 Assists, 27 Points, +7, 3.1 Point Shares. 

Dustin Brown helped lead the Kings to a Stanley Cup in 2012 and did it again this season.  Brown was an All-Star in 2009.

Eligible in 2025.

2018:  Deryk Engelland, Vegas Golden Knights, Defense.  5 Goals, 18 Assists, 23 Points, +6, 4.5 Point Shares.

For the second year in a row, the Mark Messier Leadership Award winner also won the King Clancy.  Engelland was the first Golden Knight to win this trophy, but with all due respect to the former Defenseman, he is the least likely Mark Messier Award winner to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Eligible in 2023.

The following are the players who have won the NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award and are still active.

2010:  Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, Center.  51 Goals, 58 Assists, 109 Points, +15, 14.7 Point Shares

At age 23, it will be difficult to envision another Mark Messier Leadership Award winner to be younger than Sidney Crosby.  Crosby is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion.  This season, Crosby was in his fifth NHL season and was a Second Team All-Star and a Rocket Richard winner.  He was already a Hart Trophy winner and would be again four years later.

35 Years OldPlaying for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

2015:  Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, Center.  28 Goals, 38 Assists, 66 Points, +30, 9.4 Point Shares.

This season Toews led Chicago to their third (and his) Stanley Cup win of the decade.  The Center had previously been named a Second Team All-Star (2013), a Conn Smythe winner (2010), and a Frank J. Selke Trophy winner (2013).

35 Years OldPlaying for the Chicago Blackhawks.

2016:  Shea Weber, Nashville Predators, Defense.  20 Goals, 31 Assists, 51 Points, -7, 9.5 Point Shares.

Weber had been the core player in Nashville for years by this time, and before this Mark Messier Award, he was twice a First Team All-Star, twice a Second Team All-Star, and had five top-four finishes for the Norris Trophy.

37 Years OldPlaying for the Vegas Golden Knights.

2017:  Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets, Left Wing.  26 Goals, 25 Assists, 51 Points, -4, 5.9 Point Shares.

Foligno also won the King Clancy Award this year, marking the first time a Blue Jacket won.  

35 Years OldPlaying for the Boston Bruins.

2019:  Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators, Right Wing.  17 Goals, 13 Assists, 30 Points, -16, 1.9 Point Shares.

This is the first and, to date, only Mark Messier Leadership winner who split his award-winning season between two years.  Simmonds was dealt from Philadelphia to Nashville for their playoff run, primarily due to his overall contributions as a Flyer, though do not discount what he did as a Predator.

34 Years OldPlaying for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2020:  Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames, Defense.  5 Goals, 26 Assists, 31 Points, +2, 5.4 Point Shares.

Giordano is a late bloomer, winning his first Norris Trophy at age 35 and setting personal statistical bests.   Giordano played most of his career with Calgary and was their leader for years.

39 Years OldPlaying for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2021:  Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins, Center.  23 Goals, 25 Assists, 48 Points, +27, 6.9 Point Shares.

Bergeron is one of the best two-way players of his generation (if not the best) and was already a four-time Selke winner (he won a fifth a year after).  He won a Cup with the Bruins in 2011 and captured the King Clancy award in 2013.

37 Years OldPlaying for the Boston Bruins.

2022:  Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Center.  19 Goals, 48 Assists, 67 Points, -6, 5.7 Point Shares.

Kopitar already anchored Los Angeles to two Stanley Cups (2012 & 2014), and the Slovenian Center added to his already ample trophy case (he had two Selkes and a Lady Byng) with the acquisition of the 2022 Mark Messier Leadership Award.

35 Years OldPlaying for the Los Angeles Kings.

The Mark Messier Leadership Award is not exclusive to superstars, but the character requirement is off the chart.   

Committee Chairman

Kirk Buchner, "The Committee Chairman", is the owner and operator of the site.  Kirk can be contacted at [email protected] .

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