Oilers’ Nurse, Flames’ Backlund, Islanders’ Lee named King Clancy Trophy finalists

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. (CP Photo)

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse, Calgary Flames centre Mikael Backlund and New York Islanders winger Anders Lee have been named the finalists for the 2022-23 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced Wednesday.

The award is presented “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

Each NHL team nominates a player for the King Clancy Trophy, with the three finalists and winner chosen by a committee of senior NHL executives led by commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

Nurse, a finalist for the second straight season, has been active in several community initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion through the power of sports. As an ambassador for Free Play for Kids, he helps provide marginalized children – many of whom are refugees, new Canadians or Indigenous youth – with the opportunity to play sports in a safe, accessible and inclusive environment.

Nurse also serves as an ambassador for Right To Play, which aims to protect, educate and empower children to rise above adversity through sports.

Backlund, who was drafted by the Flames in 2007 and has spent his entire NHL career in Calgary, has used his platform as a professional athlete to bring attention to many worthy causes.

He supports the ALS Society of Alberta in honour of his mother-in-law, who succumbed to the disease when his wife, Frida, was just 19 years old. It also is of importance for Backlund as Flames Assistant General Manager Chris Snow has been battling ALS for the last four years. Backlund and his spouse have raised more than $400,000 for the nonprofit and have welcomed nearly 100 families affected by ALS to home games.

Lee, who has served as the Islanders’ captain since 2018, is a fixture in the local community and at team fundraising events.

The forward became a “Jambassador” for Jam Kancer in the Kan, a foundation that helps individuals and families battling cancer, after watching a speech by and later befriending 15-year-old cancer patient Fenov Pierre-Louis in 2016. Inspired by Pierre-Louis’ words, Lee hosted his first “Kancer Jam” event – which raises money while playing the game Kan Jam – less than a year later.

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