Feb 22, 2012 Nashville, TN/New York, NY

Nomination Process Now Open for Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award

Bridgestone brand also continues sponsorship of the Mark Messier NHL® Leadership Award

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) is teaming up once again with NHL® Hall of Famer Mark Messier to recognize and reward one outstanding individual in the U.S. or Canada who has made a positive impact in the community through his or her participation in youth hockey. In effort to identify such an all-star community player, BATO will now be accepting nominations for the fourth annual Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award until April 27, 2012.

The award, which will be presented before Game 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup® Final, includes a $5,000 grant or scholarship for one exceptional individual who has embraced the sport of hockey as a means to make a difference. Qualifying individuals will represent a broad range of experiences with amateur hockey, and nominations are open to players, coaches, administrators, sponsors, officials and timers and scorers — so long as they can demonstrate how they used the sport to make a positive difference. (For complete award and nomination guidelines for the Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award, please visit: www.bridgestonetire.com/Messier.)

The 2011 recipient was Coach Alex DePalma of Brick, N.J. Coach DePalma founded the Brick Stars Challenger Ice Hockey program, which enables special needs children to experience the joy of hockey. DePalma effectively embraced the sport to instill the values of teamwork, hard work and giving back to the community.

“This program is very special to me,” Messier said. “This reward is an important way to call attention to the positive example set by those in the hockey community who have integrated sportsmanship with stewardship. I’m thankful to Bridgestone Americas for working together and helping this program continue to grow year after year.”

“Last year’s nominations process broke all records and exceeded all expectations,” recalled Phil Pacsi, Vice President of Customer Marketing & Training, BATO. “I’ve continued to be impressed by the quality of the nominees and the incredible work they are doing in their communities. The selection process is tough, but I’m thrilled to be able to work with Mark to ensure that the best individual wins and receives the recognition he or she deserves.”

Additionally, BATO will continue to sponsor the Mark Messier NHL® Leadership Award, which recognizes a National Hockey League® player who excels as a positive example both on and off the ice, through leadership and a dedication to community activities.

"The NHL is pleased to be working with Bridgestone Americas for a fourth year in a row,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. “Our efforts to encourage leadership both on ice and off illustrate our shared values in fostering positive relationships between the hockey community and society as a whole.”

The successful multi-year partnership between the Bridgestone brand and the NHL® has also included title sponsorship of the Bridgestone NHL Premiere™ series in Prague and Stockholm in 2008; the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the recently announced Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at the Big House at the University of Michigan on January 1, 2013; the Bridgestone Greatest NHL® Captains program in 2009 (an online promotion on NHL.com that enabled fans to pick the greatest captains in NHL® history); as well as prominent brand exposure in premier NHL® events like the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, the NHL Draft™, the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL® All-Star Game and the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™.