In January 2008, the Professional Hockey Players’ Association named Doug Messier the first recipient of the Curt Leichner Distinguished Member Award.
Messier, who played the majority of his professional hockey career in the now defunct WHL (Western Hockey League) is considered to be one of the “Founding Fathers” of the PHPA. It was his vision during the mid 1960’s that a Players’ Association for professional minor league hockey players was needed, which ultimately led to the hiring of Curt Leichner to legally form the Association in 1967. Messier would serve as the PHPA’s first Executive Director from 1967-1969, before Leichner assumed the Executive Director’s role from 1969 until 1993.
“I am humbled to be named the inaugural winner of this award,” said Messier. “This is truly an honor, and I am very proud at how far the Association has come over the past 40 years.”
“Doug was instrumental in the formative years of the Association, and had the vision and courage to lead the collective voice at a time when it was considered taboo to stand up to owners and team management,” said PHPA Executive Director Larry Landon. “It is only fitting that Doug, selected unanimously by the PHPA Executive Committee, receive the inaugural award during the PHPA’s 40th Anniversary season.”