How does one truly judge leadership?
It seems like a rather subjective thing, especially since many simply equate team-wide success with dogged leadership when (perhaps) it could just be about talent. Either way, other players do look to captains in dire times, whether it be during a tough stretch of losses, critical moments in games or righting the ship during the postseason.
Judging leaders against each other must be a tough duty, but Mark Messier might just be the guy to do that. The 2011 Mark Messier Leadership Award made three great choices for its finalists: Boston Bruins’ defensemen Zdeno Chara, Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan and Detroit Red Wings blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom. Previous annual winners include: Mats Sundin (2007-08), Jarome Iginla (08-09) and Sidney Crosby (09-10).
First, here’s Messier’s comments on Chara (all comments via NHL.com):
“First of all, I’m a big fan of Zdeno’s from the time he came to the National Hockey League with the Islanders and I was with New York,” Messier said. “I don’t think there’s a player in the League that’s improved as much as this guy. Him coming to Boston started the rebuilding program here, and here they are challenging for the Stanley Cup. A blend of incredible size and strength and talent. And more importantly what he’s done from a leadership perspective … he is the true leader of the Boston Bruins on and off the ice.”
Next, Messier explains Doan’s credentials.
“When you talk about leadership in Phoenix, you don’t have to go far beyond Shane Doan,” Messier said. “With all the uncertainty they’ve had the past two years around the team’s future, the coaching staff and Shane have taken the team to the playoffs and made the players believers. They have not allowed the outside circumstances to interfere with team goals. Shane has a lot to do with all of this as captain. And what he does off the ice is unparalleled in our sport.”
Finally, here are Messier’s comments about Lidstrom.
“We’ve been looking at Nick [for consideration] for a long time,” Messier said. “He’s had to fill some pretty big shoes in Detroit when Stevie Yzerman retired. Since that retirement, nobody has talked about the lack of leadership in Detroit. I’m not sure how many players could have stepped into that situation and seamlessly filled the void created by Stevie Yzerman. He’s done it unbelievably well and the franchise continues to play and play well for Stanley Cups, while he reaches out to his community.”