The honour is given to a player who demonstrates outstanding performance, vast leadership skills and dedicated humanitarian efforts. The 45-year-old Chelios recorded 11 assists in 71 games this season and added a goal and six assists in the playoffs as the Red Wings advanced to the Western Conference final.
Since 1992, his Cheli's Children's Foundation has donated more than US$2-million to youth charities throughout Chicago and Detroit. Cold-FX, the award's sponsor, will donate US$25,000 to the charity of Chelios' choice.
The NHL is involved in the selection of potential recipients of the award but the final decision was made by Messier, who retired following the 2002-03 season.
Messier also had a role in selecting the winners of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which was handed out to five players during the season.