Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Canadian Who Dedicated Half a Century to Youth Hockey Wins 2012 Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award

June 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, June 5, 2012 /CNW/ – For fifty years, Robert “Knobby”
Knudsen has been a name synonymous with youth hockey in Windsor,
Ontario. For his leadership, vision and selfless dedication, he has
been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Bridgestone Mark Messier
Youth Leadership Award.

Knudsen, who passed away last November, was a founding member of the
Windsor Minor Hockey Association. He was so devoted to the sport that
he even took out a second mortgage on his own home to keep the
fledgling league alive. Over the years, his love of the sport touched
thousands of young hockey players in Canada, and the positive impact he
has had in his community is unquestioned.

The Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award was created to reward youth hockey players or mentors for their
leadership and contributions to youth hockey or education. Nominations
for the award were received from across North America. The award, which
includes a $5,000 grant from Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations
(Bridgestone Americas), was presented last night by hockey legend Mark
Messier before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup® Final.  The funds will be
used for the continued support of the “Knobby’s Kids” program founded
by Mr. Knudsen.

“It is really important that individuals like Robert Knudsen be
recognized for the positive impact they have had on lives of
impressionable young children,” Messier said.  “For that reason, I am
proud to lend my name to this award.  I am thrilled that ‘Knobby’s
Kids’ will continue to benefit from his lifetime of dedication to youth

Mr. Knudsen’s legacy includes being recognized not only in youth hockey
but also as a volunteer in baseball and football in addition to being a
member of the Windsor Hall of Fame. To honor him and his work with
youth, September 20 has been designated “Knobby Knudsen” day in

His Kids Skate for Kids program, launched nine years ago, was a skating
marathon for kids to help raise money for a roof to be added to an
outdoor rink at Lanspeary Park in Windsor. This event included former
NHL® players Bob Probert and Bob Boughner who came out to support the
cause. This program became known as “Knobby’s Kids” and grew to help
raise money for kids who couldn’t afford hockey equipment, to provide
them with free ice time and instruction, and to help fund “graduates”
who go on to play in the Windsor Minor Hockey Association. What started
out with 20 kids has grown to include over 160 kids aged 2-13 years
old, and has provided free equipment to children on Native American
reservations and to children in communities as far away as Russia. Mr.
Knudsen viewed his formation of “Knobby’s Kids” as his greatest

His tireless fundraising, coaching and organizing paved the way for
thousands of kids to play hockey. The Windsor Minor Hockey Association
and WESPY both have volunteer awards named for Mr. Knudsen,

“The one quote my dad always said and firmly believed in was ‘kids in
sports stay out of courts,’” said Robert Knudsen Jr.  “And it meant the
world to him to know that he was important in the life of a child.  Our
community, both in Windsor and the youth hockey community, lost a
legend last November when my father passed, but this award will help
make sure his memory will live forever.  It is truly a fitting tribute
to his legacy.”

“Congratulations to the Knudsen family and to the memory of Knobby
Knudsen, a truly deserving honoree who had an enormous impact on the
community he lived in,” said Phil Pacsi, Vice President, Customer
Marketing and Training, Bridgestone Americas. “While Mr. Knudsen could
not be here with us, we are grateful to have the chance to celebrate
the life of someone who gave so much of themselves in order for
Canadian youth hockey to thrive.”

The Bridgestone brand also serves as title sponsor of The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award Presented by Bridgestone, which recognizes an NHL(®) player as a superior leader in hockey, and as a contributing member of
society. The award honors an individual who leads by positive example
through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication
to community activities and charitable causes. This year, the award
will be presented at the 2012 NHL Awards(TM) in Las Vegas on Wednesday,
June 20.  Finalists for this award are Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles
Kings, Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers, and Shane Doan of the
Phoenix Coyotes.

About Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations:
Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) is a
business unit of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., whose parent company,
e Corporation, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. Reporting
into the BATO business unit are the company’s Latin American tire
operations; the U.S. and Canadian consumer tire businesses; the U.S.
and Canadian commercial tire businesses; and Bridgestone Retail
Operations, LLC, which operates the largest network of company-owned
automotive service providers in the world. BATO develops, manufactures
and markets Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires. The
business unit is focused on retail, wholesale and original equipment
markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off
road, motorcycle, agricultural and other tires to its customers in the
Americas. In addition, through its Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions
unit, retreading customers have access to industry-leading research and
development, manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise, providing
them with a total tire solution.

About the NHL:
The National Hockey League, founded in 1917, is the second-oldest of the
four major professional team sports leagues in North America.  Today,
the NHL consists of
30 Member Clubs, each reflecting the League’s international makeup,
with players from more than 20 countries represented on team rosters.
According to a Simmons Market Research study, NHL fans are younger,
more educated, more affluent, and access content through digital means
more than any other sport. The NHL entertains more than 250 million
fans each season in-arena and through its partners in national
television (NBC Sports Network, NBC, TSN, CBC, RDS, RIS, and NHL
Network(TM)) and radio (NHL Radio(TM), Sirius XM Radio and XM Canada). 
Through the NHL Foundation, the League’s charitable arm, the NHL raises
money and awareness for Hockey Fights Cancer(TM) and NHL Youth
Development, and supports the charitable efforts of NHL players. For
more information on the NHL, log on to

NHL, the NHL Shield and Stanley Cup are registered trademarks and NHL
Awards is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All Rights

SOURCE Bridgestone Canada Inc.

Source: PR Newswire