Leinonen, Walter, Israelsson, Fitzpatrick ... Who is next?

Leinonen, Walter, Israelsson, Fitzpatrick ... Who is next?

For the fifth consecutive year, the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs will recognize an outstanding club hockey person with the E.H.C. Leadership Award. Who will follow Mikko Leinonen (2020), Philipp Walter (2021), Pea Israelsson (2022) and Robert Fitzpatrick (2023)?

The E.H.C. Leadership Award is the most prestigious individual award that recognizes exceptional leadership in European club hockey.

The description of the E.H.C. Leadership Award is:

To be awarded annually to a distinguished leader in European club ice hockey for their outstanding sportive, commercial and social accomplishments within their club and their community.

“When the E.H.C. was founded in 2015 we eventually came to the conclusion that there was no recognition for the remarkable work done by so many leaders in European club hockey,” said E.H.C. Managing Director Szymon Szemberg. “It took until 2020 for us to introduce such an award and it has been a success and a very appreciated feature in our annual award gala every June. It is really a great satisfaction to be able to recognize some of the truly exceptional work done by people in European club hockey.”

“We must remember that there would be no World Championships, no hockey in the Olympics and hardly any of the 30 percent of NHL players from Europe if not for the work done on club level by these people,” said Szemberg.

For the first time in the short history of the E.H.C. Leadership Award, there was a standing ovation at last year’s ceremony in Prague when Robert Fitzpatrick received the award for his and the Belfast Giants’ outstanding social work by making the club and the hockey arena the place where the city’s two communities, Catholics and Protestants, cheer together and the only thing that matters is hockey and the Giants.

The inaugural
2020 winner, Mikko Leinonen, received the award for his three decades at the helm of his maternal club Tappara Tampere, a period during which the club won four national titles, and established itself as one of the top clubs in Europe. It was also during Mikko’s reign that the planning and construction of what eventually would become the Nokia Arena started.

The CEO of the German DEL club Kölner Haie, Philipp Walter, was the 2021 recipient when the jury awarded Walter for his impressive leadership while navigating Köln through the hardships and challenges of the pandemic when virtually eighty percent of the club’s revenues vanished overnight.

In 2022, Pea Israelsson won the E.H.C. Leadership Award for his in all aspects impressive work done when transforming Skellefteå AIK from the verge of bankruptcy to one of the most successful and financially strong clubs in Sweden. That included a total renovation of the club’s home arena while adding a separate practice facility.

We are now looking to receive nominations for the 2024 E.H.C. Leadership Award and asking clubs to submit names and relevant merits of worthy candidates. Very often it is a case of not “seeing the forest for all the trees”. We are sure that a very worthy candidate for the E.H.C. Leadership Award could be working next to you.

The nomination period for the 2024 E.H.C. Leadership Award will run from the 12th of February until the deadline, the 12th of April. The winner will be presented on the 11th of June at the 2024 Fenix Outdoor European Hockey Awards in Prague.

For more information or questions, please contact: caroline@hockeyclubs.eu

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