Brent Burns (Getty Images)
The NHL has announced three finalists for the 2014-15 NHL Foundation Award, which recognizes a player who dedicates himself to charity and community work.
The ultimate act of benevolence is to do something good for someone else with little attention or fanfare for yourself. Fitting, then, that the NHL Foundation Award is among the league's lesser-known annual honors. It's awarded to the NHL player "who applies the core values of (ice) hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community."
Like with the Masterton Trophy, each team nominated one of its players. A judging panel then voted, producing three top vote getters as finalists. The finalists are:
1. Brent Burns. Burns, the wildly bearded San Jose Sharks blueliner, is known for supporting the military, including organizations like Defending the Blue Line, Operation: Care and Comfort and Folds of Honor. Burns also created 'Burnzie's Buzzcut,' through which he and teammates shave their heads for various charitable causes, including the Katie Moore Foundation for Dominic Moore's late wife.
2. Mark Giordano. He had an outstanding season when healthy on Calgary's blueline, and he's extremely busy on the charity front. Giordano, his wife and Habitat for Humanity partnered to launch '5-for-5,' donating $25,000 three straight seasons to build five homes in five countries. He created Team Giordano and donated $100,000 toward Calgary's schools. On top of that, Giordano is an active participant in team community work such as hospital visits.
3. Henrik Lundqvist. He's a great goalie, he's handsome, he's a snazzy dresser, he plays a mean guitar, and…of course he's also a great charity contributor, as there's nothing 'King Henrik' can't do. His two organizations, the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation and the Garden of Dreams Foundation, support 28 different nonprofit charities.
Full descriptions of the finalists and more details on their charity work can be found here.
There's something about seeing hockey players helping out in their communities that warms the heart and makes us love the sport that much more, isn't there? The award winner will be announced at the NHL Awards June 24. The NHL Foundation will present $25,000 to the winner's chosen charitable organization. Last year's winner was Patrice Bergeron.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin