If you were sitting directly beside me, I’d offer you a tissue from my dwindling Kleenex supply. It’s been that type of offseason. We all have our favorite Blueshirts. Are you saddened and/or shocked at Martin St. Louis‘s retirement? Glen Sather stepping down as General Manager? Cam Talbot‘s trade to Edmonton? Did I mention that Carl Hagelin‘s speed became expendable for cap relief? What personally broke my heart ala Godfather style was Derick Brassard‘s elongated wrist injury and the thought of new General Manager Jeff Gorton hypothetically becoming another John Idzik. Yes, I went there. So what does this have to do with Henrik Lundqvist? For starters, he’s the only player in the Rangers organization giving us something positive to cling onto before October rolls around.

“Humanitarianism is a central narrative of sport — as athletes aspire towards greatness, their ability to make a mark on society is as important as their athletic accomplishments”

The inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards will take place on July 14th at the L.A. Live Conga Room, bringing together multiple sports related leagues and/or governing bodies (Ex: MLB. MLS. NBA, NFL, NHL, USCO, USTA, WNBA, WWE) that have nominated athletes, teams and community members using the power of sports to transform lives and uplift communities. Additionally, the ceremony will also celebrate four “Stuart Scott ENSPIRE” Award winners, recognized for taking risks and using innovation to help aid the disadvantaged, save lives, alleviate suffering, and continually protect human dignity. The best part, each honoree doesn’t leave empty-handed! ESPN is issuing them $25,000 grants for a qualified charity related to their award-winning humanitarian efforts.

Henrik Lundqvist “Sports Humanitarian of the Year” Nomination Blurb (Credit: ESPN Media Zone)

Speaking of humanitarian efforts, Lundqvist is miles ahead of his competition. Anquan Boldin, Tamika Catchings, and John Cena may continue to demonstrate leadership and create a positive impact on their communities but Henrik Lundqvist is nurturing young adults to continue by example. Developers of his “Young Ambassadors” program sought to embody his belief that this world’s youth can create a difference as they step further into adulthood. The program itself asks volunteers to serve one academic year. During that time, the program guidelines require each ambassador to serve fifteen hours of community service, create an independent service project and attend an event hosted by the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. Unlike the NHL Awards, ESPN’s Corporate Citizenship department will award all finalists. The winner will receive a $75,000 grant. With a $25,000 grant awarded to each Sports Humanitarian of the Year runner-up.

Program Alert: You can see highlights of the evening’s festivities (hosted by Laila Ali) during a 30 minute special scheduled for July 23rd at 8:30pm on ESPN.