The Ottawa Senators announced on Monday that they had selected Brady Tkachuk as their nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominee. Every year, each NHL team puts forward their selection for the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Despite his youth, Tkachuk was recognized this season as one of the team’s leaders. Tkachuk’s said a lot of the right things, and there can be no doubt about his on-ice determination. By all accounts his teammates love him. All in all, this would appear to be a tidy bit of business.
You can probably tell there is a “but” coming here. I thought at length about how best to frame this piece because I don’t want it to seem like I’m slagging Tkachuk, or even necessarily the Sens. Tkachuk seems like a very nice young man who is trying his best, and he seems to be offering some very real leadership in what can only be described as a difficult professional setting. I look forward to seeing his role in the community grow as he establishes roots in the city. Leading the Ottawa Senators in 2019-20 was not an easy task. So here’s the but: I don’t understand why Mark Borowiecki wasn’t the nominee.
If this was a plain old leadership award, I’d understand because, frankly, none of us really know who the effective leaders are. But the award is not just for on and off-ice leadership, it is also for a player who “...has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” And on that note, I cannot think of another player who has done more for the community recently than Borowiecki.
For several years he’s done great work with Solider On, a Canadian Armed Forces program that supports serving and retired members to overcome mental health or physical illness or injury through sport and physical activity. Most recently, in February of this year, Borowiecki was part of a two day training camp put on by the team and Sens Alumni for 17 ill and injured veterans.
Mark and his wife Tara are also the honourary captains of the Capital City Condors, who are “a family of ice hockey teams for those who are unable to play on any other hockey team due to a cognitive and/or physical disability.” Many of you will remember the Sens first supporting the Condors through Matt Carkner, and then perhaps most prominently with Kyle Turris.
Lastly, and in some ways most impressively, Borowiecki has been a staunch LGBTQ+ ally and is the team’s Hockey is for Everyone ambassador. By Borowiecki’s own admission, the Sens’ organization hasn’t always been the quickest to line up behind LGBTQ+ causes but that hasn’t stopped him from being their champion. That, to me, is real leadership.
Brady Tkachuk seems like a fine young man, and I highly doubt there will be any great controversy caused by the selection, but the Sens had a truly excellent candidate right in front of them and his name is Mark Borowiecki.