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Big changes are in store for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.
According to a Bridgestone spokesman, the company will no longer continue its partnership with The Mess through its new sponsorship deal with the NHL.
The award has been given since the 2006-07 season. Bridgestone is (or was) the award’s title sponsor.
The Mess has involved some levels of derision – especially from this corner of the blogosphere – since the finalists and winner were both chosen by Messier.
It’s also one of the few awards that’s picked with the full hindsight of the playoffs.
As of now, no new title sponsor has been announced.
Last season Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews won the award for the first time … yes the best leader in the post 2004-05 NHL lockout world had yet to win the award.
Daniel Alfredsson once won the award shortly before bolting to the Detroit Red Wings from the Ottawa Senators in 2013. This definitely hurt the legitimacy of the award. Along with this photo of Mess, Dustin Brown and Cuba Gooding Jr. in 2014.
At the 2015 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Mess gave some insight on how he solicits opinions to pick the award.
“It’s so complicated, the process, because you have to look at what’s going on on the ice and then of course what’s going on off the ice,” Mess said. “That’s what the leadership award really symbolizes, is leadership on and off the ice.”
The ‘so complicated’ part was just … groan inducing. How hard is it to pick Toews or Brown every year?
In all sincerity, Messier truly was one of the best leaders in hockey history but the award was probably a bit much. And it's a smart move by Bridgestone to focus more on its various mega-endeavors with the NHL, such as the Winter Classic, that bring far more eyeballs to its product.
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