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Canes Country Members' Choice Awards: The Messier

While the Carolina Hurricanes 2009-10 NHL season fell short of the expectations we brought to the table back in October, that doesn’t meant there weren’t many bright spots for the players and fans this season. Canes Country thought we’d look back at some individuals whose performances were exemplary, and whose efforts and skill inspired us to keep watching. Using the traditional team and annual NHL Awards as a guide, Cory, Bob and I have each nominated a player from the Carolina roster for nine of these awards. Over the course of this week we have been asking you, our insightful readers, to vote for and tell us why you think one Hurricane player deserves our recognition for a job well done.

The Mark Messier Leadership Award

Mark Messier Leadership Award is presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.

The honor is named after Mark Messier, one of the finest leaders in NHL history who was a six-time Stanley Cup champion and is one of three players to have captained three different teams. Suggestions for nominees are solicited from fans, clubs and NHL personnel, but the selection of the three finalists and the ultimate winner is made by Mark Messier himself.

Who received the Messier over the last 3 years?

2009: Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames)

2008: Mats Sundin (Toronto Maple Leafs)

2007: Chris Chelios (Detroit Red Wings)

After the jump Bob, Cory and Hockeymom each make their nominations and tell why.

And the nominees are:

Bob nominates: Eric Staal

2009 - Eric Staal 70 29 41 70 4 68 13 0 5 0 277 10.5

This is a tough one because when the team is losing, how can you claim anyone is doing a proper job of being a leader? But once again, I'll give a shout out to Eric Staal.

Every year, he leads the team in statistics. Even though he missed 12 games this year, he was still number one in points. And this was the first time in over four years that he missed a game.

Once again, I'll state that it's no accident that he was made team captain. The people who made that decision did not make it because of emotion, they made it because they actually feel the decision is correct and they try to do what is best for the team.

Once he was made captain in mid January, the team went on a long run of playing good hockey. Was it all a coincidence? If his teammates did not think he was worthy, would they have continued playing hard?

The other players look up to him. They look for him to lead. When he leads, they usually win.

While Gleason and Brind'Amour are both noble candidates, ask anyone outside the Hurricanes organization and they will tell you that Eric Staal is the leader of the Hurricanes. Why is that?

Cory Lavalette nominates: Rod Brind`Amour

2009 - Rod Brind`Amour 80 9 10 19 -29 36 2 0 2 0 95 9.5

It's not often a player relinquishes his captaincy and is still nominated for a leadership award. But Brind'Amour's decision to hand the "C" over to Eric Staal was never about failed leadership. Would Brind'AMour have given it up if he and the team were still on top of their game? Probably not. But his decision to agree to hand over the captaincy showed exactly why Brind'Amour is one of the league's best "lead by example" players. Don't think for a minute Brind'Amour didn't realize that letting go of the captaincy would lead to headlines that used words like "stripped" — but Brind'AMour swallowed his pride for the long-term good of the organization. It would've been much easier to finish out 2009-10, retire and have Staal assume the captaincy. Instead, Brind'Amour did what he's always done: made the proper decision and never made excuses. That's leadership, regardless of what the numbers in the stat books say.

Hockeymomof2 nominates Tim Gleason

2009 - Tim Gleason 61 5 14 19 0 78 1 1 0 0 76 6.6

Q: The player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season? Lucky me, I get to let others do the talking:

11/30/09 Canes Now: Gleason returned before a five-minute kneeing penalty also given to Ovechkin expired but needed help into the locker room before returning. "This guy is as meat and potatoes as there is of a man," Coach Paul Maurice said. "If he can play, I don't imagine he is going to be moving too quick tomorrow, but he also knew that Joe (Corvo) was down and we can't go to four defenseman at that point in the game. So he mustered what he could and gave what he had."

1/29/10 Olympic Blog: "If Eric Staal wasn't the new captain of the Hurricanes, Tim Gleason would be," Carolina's GM Jim Rutherford told "In as short an overview as possible, I think that about sums it all up."

2/4/10 Tracking the Storm: "He’s a guy that will go to war for us, and that’s exactly what this team needs," added David Poile, associate general manager of Team USA

2/5/10 Canes Now: "I'm going to take it for all it's worth and play my heart out," Gleason said. "I don't know any other way."

3/18/10 Tracking the Storm: "The increase in pain is way beyond what you would expect a person to play with," said coach Paul Maurice. "Unfortunately it’s even beyond what Tim Gleason can play with, because he can play with just about anything."

3/18/10 Indy "Gleason’s probably the leader of our back end," defenseman Brett Carson said. "He battles night after night."

And if you need (or want) more, enjoy this "Tribute to Tim Gleason" with some more memorable on-ice highlights (and maybe a few too many fights) from a Canes Fan on Youtube:

Finally, if you'd like to look back on the previous award posts from this week and see the results and/or vote (polls are still open) here are those links:

The Chiasson, The Vezina, The Calder, The Lady Byng, The Masterton , The Norris, The Selke