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Leader Of The Year

NEW YORK (May 30, 2007) – Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelioshas been named the recipient of the Mark Messier Leader of the Year Award, presented by COLD-fX for the 2006-07 season in recognition for his outstanding performance as a player, his vast leadership skills and his dedicated humanitarian efforts. VERSUS will air a special segment on Chelios, hosted by Messier, during tonight’s Stanley Cup Final Game 2 pre-game studio show LIVE from the Honda Center in Anaheim.

CV Technologies Inc., the maker of COLD-fX - the official immune enhancer of the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association - will donate $25,000 to the charity of Chelios’ choice.

“I don’t have many regrets about my hockey career, but one might be never having had the opportunity to play with Chris Chelios,” said Messier. “I have always admired his commitment and dedication to the game, and I have never heard a negative word spoken about him, which is a true testament to his character. I am honored to present the first Mark Messier Leader of the Year Award to Chris Chelios. In addition to his ability to lead his teammates both on and off the ice, he is an incredible ambassador for the game of hockey and a wonderful role model—totally committed to his community and giving back to those in need.”

“I am honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award,” said Chelios. “I would like to thank Mark for this honor as well as my current and former teammates for their tremendous support throughout my career. I am fortunate to have played with some of the greatest leaders in hockey and have always done my best to follow their example. I strongly believe that an important part of being an athlete is to do my best to give back to the community whenever possible, and again, would like to thank Mark for this incredible honor.”

Regarded as the consummate professional and teammate – determined, hard-working and humble - Chelios has never forgotten about the less fortunate. His quiet acts of kindness are legendary. Whether visiting an ill fan at the hospital or sending an anonymous donation, Chelios goes above and beyond the call of duty for those experiencing hardship. Since its inception in 1992, Cheli’s Children’s Foundation has donated more than $2 million dollars to various children’s charities throughout Chicago and Detroit, including Father Smyth’s Standing Tall Foundation, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Maryville Academy and the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, a charity supported by Chris’s longtime friend and Blackhawk great Stan Mikita.

Also close to Chelios’ heart are charities dedicated to the battle against breast cancer, the disease which claimed the life of his sister, Gigi, five years ago. Last summer, he attended Detroit’s Race for the Cure event, patiently posing for photos and signing autographs for hundreds of survivors, participants and patients battling the disease.

The degree to which Chelios is respected and admired is reflected in the words of those who know him best. Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland spoke about the honor noting that, “The entire Red Wings organization is extremely proud of Chris as the winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award. We have always known Chris is an extremely talented hockey player, and exceptional leader on and off the ice. In addition, his efforts in the community, generosity, and assistance to others are just some of the aspects that make him a wonderful human being.”

Red Wings teammate and captain Nicklas Lidstrom added, “Chris Chelios is the consummate teammate. In recent years especially, his mentoring of the young defensemen on our team has been an extremely valuable asset to this organization. His humanitarian efforts are also well respected by everyone in our locker room. We are all very happy for Chris as he receives this great honor.” Additionally, Red Wings center Kris Draper noted, “Chris Chelios’ work ethic epitomizes leadership and it provides the basis for the longevity of his career. The bigger the game, the better Chris Chelios plays, and that to me is what a true leader is.”

An 11-time NHL All-Star defenseman, Chelios is one of the greatest American-born players of all time. During the 2007 playoffs, Chelios averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time per game, tallying seven points in the 18-game campaign. He leads all active NHL defensemen in postseason points with 143 (31 goals, 112 assists) and ranks seventh all-time. On April 30, 2007, Chelios played in his 237th career playoff game, passing Messier for second place all-time, and finished the postseason one game shy of all-time leader Patrick Roy (247).

Throughout the 2006-07 season, Messier, with input from the NHL, recognized players for their athletic performance; ability to motivate and influence teammates; a commitment to the community and charitable causes; and a dedication to a professional attitude as a representative of their sport and as a positive role model within society. Recipients of this year’s Mark Messier Leadership Award included New York Rangers left wing Brendan Shanahan, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

In his 25 seasons in the NHL, Messier became the true definition of a leader. The six-time Stanley Cup® champion and 16-time NHL All-Star is widely viewed as one of the greatest sports leaders of all time. Among his numerous hockey and humanitarian honors, the recent naming of the Mark Messier Skyway at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey for his 15 years of dedication and commitment to help raise millions of dollars to benefit children with cancer and other serious blood disorders is one of the most special.

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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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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