Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/18/09 at 05:21 PM ET
NEW YORK (September 18, 2009) – Hockey Hall of Fame center Mark Messier, New York Rangers goaltender Mike Richter and Detroit Red Wings Senior Vice President Jim Devellano have been named recipients of the 2009 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
The award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager and was a pioneer in the sport’s development.
The recipients will be honored at an evening reception at Gotham Hall in New York City on Thursday, October 21. Further details on the event will be announced at a later date.
Universally acknowledged as one of the greatest leaders in all of sports, Messier already had won five Stanley Cups as an Edmonton Oiler when he arrived in New York in 1991 with the task of ending the Rangers’ five-decade championship drought. Following the lead of their captain, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994, putting hockey front and center in the consciousness of the United States’ largest city and gaining for the NHL unprecedented publicity and attention throughout the country.
A native of Edmonton who began his career as a rambunctious role player, Messier developed into perhaps the greatest power center the game has ever seen. In a 25-season NHL career that began in Edmonton and included two stints with the Rangers as well as three years in Vancouver, Messier piled up 1,887 points, second all time to Wayne Gretzky. His 1,756 games played were second all time to Gordie Howe’s 1,767. And the combined 1,992 regular season and playoff games in which Messier appeared are the most in League history. His jersey number 11 was retired by the Rangers on Jan. 12, 2006 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 12, 2007.
A remarkable big-game goaltender, Richter backstopped the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup and the United States to the inaugural World Cup of Hockey title two years later. He was brilliant on both stages, providing the acrobatic foundation that enabled that Rangers team to play an attacking style and stunning the star-studded Canadian team in the three-game finals of the ’96 World Cup.
Richter’s 666 games played and 301 victories are the most by a goaltender in Rangers history. His 42 victories in 1993-94 are a single-season record for the franchise. He was a three-time Olympian who won a silver medal with Team USA in Salt Lake City in 2002. His jersey number 35 was retired by the Rangers on Feb. 4, 2004 and he was inducted in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Oct. 10, 2008.
Entering his 28th season with the Red Wings and his 43rd overall in the National Hockey League, Devellano continues to be a driving force behind Detroit’s success, as well as a strong influence in the evolution and improvement of the League itself. Devellano was the first individual hired by owners Mike and Marian Ilitch after they purchased the Red Wings in June 1982. He was the team’s general manager for eight seasons before ascending to his current position as senior vice president on July 13, 1990.
Devellano’s pioneering work in developing a strong European scouting staff helped build Detroit into an NHL power and four-time Stanley Cup champion from 1997 through 2008. He also was responsible for bringing the Entry Draft to the United States for the very first time on June 13, 1987 at Joe Louis Arena. In all, he has won 14 championship rings as a scout, general manager and team executive. That includes seven Stanley Cups – three as assistant GM of the New York Islanders.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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