Since 1998, 13 players have been honored with the NHL Foundation Player Award. A winner “applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.” That’s a tall order, so in my view it’s a huge honor for the chosen player. And this year, for the second straight season, the Caps’ own Mike Green is among the nominees, joining L.A.’s Dustin Brown and Vancouver’s Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Fun fact: if selected, Green would be the first defenseman to win the award. He would not, however, be the first Capital. In 2001, famed philanthropist Olie Kolzig won the award. Only the Buffalo Sabres can boast two Foundation Award winners, so recognition for Mike Green could help the Caps to position themselves as a leader in community relations in the NHL.
Green would be a deserving recipient of the award, which includes a $25,000 donation to a charitable organization of the winner’s choice. His community contributions are too numerous to describe at length, so crass as it may be to gloss over them this way, I’m going to bullet them out:
• Three years participating in Miracle on Seventh Street, serving holiday meals to underprivileged D.C. families
• Partnered with the Children’s Law Center’s Adopt a Family Christmas Drive, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities Family EMPOWERment Center, and the Washington Wizards’ Family-to-Family program during the holiday season
• Encouraged teammates to adopt families during the holidays
• Co-founder of So Kids Can, donating $100 for every goal he scores and $50 for each assist to a different youth-focused charity each year, with over $93,000 raised over the first two seasons
• Held a charity concert this season at the 9:30 Club to benefit So Kids Can
• Donates seven tickets per game to Most Valuable Kids (MVK), with a total of more than 1,000 tickets donated to date
• Heavily involved in the Caps’ adoption of Powell Elementary School, where he has visited three times, including joining fans to participate in the 2010 DCPS Beautification Day, and working with students and the Department of Agriculture to design a garden
In my opinion, the highlights are the consistency of Green’s involvement, and his ability to inspire his teammates to take an interest in service and philanthropy. One-off projects are great, but relationship-building projects like the adoption of Powell Elementary School and established programs like So Kids Can demonstrate a player’s dedication to the community more deeply. Likewise, engaging teammates shows that Green considers community service more than just a personal responsibility. Rather, he sees it as an opportunity for the team to bond with one another and with the city that supports them.
Though Green is an impressive candidate, his fellow nominees are equally deserving. Brown is nominated for the third straight season for his support of underprivileged L.A. youth, and the Sedin twins pledged $1.5 million to the Campaign for B.C. Children last year to help fund a Pediatric ICU at the B.C. Children’s Hospital.
No matter who wins, it’s a good thing that the league is recognizing these values. The NHL Foundation Award recipient will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22.