TWO telling statements came from the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
One related to their decision to continue the Dan Snyder Memorial Award and the other about the player chosen to receive the honour.
Defenceman Mark Stuart was named the Jets player who embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates may succeed.
The award was instituted in honour of former NHLer Dan Snyder, who died in a car crash in 2003 while a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. Apart from the players themselves, very little has been brought north after True North Sports and Entertainment purchased and relocated the Thrashers, but the Snyder award was an easy call for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
"I've known the Snyder family for a long time," Cheveldayoff said Saturday. "They're special people that obviously went through a real tragic time. Their son was a real special person in my world because he embodied how you should play the game.
"He was a person that didn't get a lot of notoriety or recognition, who fought his way into the organization, earned his way up through the ranks and earned his way onto the NHL team. He was a big part of winning two championships at the minor-league level (Orlando, Chicago).
"He was a character person. He played hard each and every night. He would be a player that would make the Winnipeg Jets fans very proud if he was on the Jets' team right now."
That's also a pretty good description of Stuart, who played 80 gritty games this season for the Jets.
The native of Rochester, Minn., received the award prior to Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and on hand at the MTS Centre to present it were members of Snyder's family, including his father Graham.
Graham Snyder said his family was pleased that the Jets decided to continue the franchise's tradition of the award and credited Cheveldayoff for pushing for it.
"He was telling us how important it was to him," Snyder said. "He felt that he had a pretty close attachment with Dan and he shared with me that when he's looking at hockey players sometimes, he'll compare them to Dan and say, 'That guy's got a little bit of Dan Snyder in him.'
"That's always great to hear. Chevy was a big part of Dan's career with the Chicago Wolves and we have some great memories from there." The Snyder family has kept in touch with the franchise since the tragic accident, including bringing the Thrashers to practice in the new Dan Snyder Memorial Arena in his hometown of Elmira, Ont.
The Dan Snyder Memorial Foundation contributed $750,000 to fast-tracking the arena project, which opened in 2009 in the southern Ontario town.