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Best of the Best: Tavares named finalist for NHL leadership award

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Islanders captain John Tavares has been named one of the three finalists for the NHL's now unsponsored leadership award, presented to the player who, "exemplifies great leadership qualities to the team, on and off the ice, during the regular season."

Tavares joins fellow captains Alex Ovechkin of Washington and Shea Weber of Nashville as a finalist.

Per the NHL's release:

Tavares has been the Islanders captain since 2013. In 2015-16, he led the team to at least 100 points for the second straight season. He also continued his Teammates program, which has provided tickets and VIP game experiences for sick and underprivileged children the past five seasons.

Tavares has spent more than $32,000 to create these special game experiences. He also spearheaded the Islanders' fundraising for their Military Appreciation Night in November, offering a $5,000 donation to help the Islanders host more than 300 active and retired service members at a game.

I don't need to tell anyone reading this what Tavares means to the Islanders. He is the franchise's face, its best player, its leader, its centerpiece and its personality. The fact that those above listed charity works have existed almost totally under the radar even to the most focused Islanders fans tells you everything you need to know about how quietly and humbly Tavares carries himself, even when he's New York's preeminent sports superstar.

Just recently in The Players Tribune, former NHLers Ryan Whitney and Mike Rupp raved about Tavares' skills and influence just after the center had eliminated the Florida Panthers with a goal in the second overtime of Game 6 of their playoff series.

Whitney

His skill set is so unique. He came into the league and people questioned his skating, and he turned it into a strength. Watch that overtime goal against Florida. His hands are so unbelievably strong. He makes things look easy that aren't easy.

Since driving his team to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993, Tavares has one goal and one assist, both coming in a Game 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The NHL's leadership award was first introduced by the league in 2007. Previous recipients include Jonathan Toews, Daniel Alfredsson and Dustin Brown. Tire manufacturer Bridgestone ended its sponsorship of the award last season.

The winner will be announced at the NHL awards show on June 22. The final selection will be chosen by former Vancouver Canucks free agent acquisition Mark Messier.