Chicago Wolves forward Brett Sterling added to his extensive collection of honors for his efforts on and off the ice when he received the 2017 Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award prior to Chicago’s win over Rockford on Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
One Wolves player earns the award each season in memory of Snyder, who passed away on Oct. 5, 2003, at the age of 25 after suffering head injuries in a car accident. During his two seasons with the Wolves, Snyder displayed a remarkable commitment to helping people and charities throughout the Chicago area. He also scored five game-winning goals during the postseason to help the Wolves capture the 2002 Calder Cup championship.
Sterling, the American Hockey League’s leading active goal-scorer with 235 markers, accepted his first Dan Snyder Man of the Year award in 2010. When the 32-year-old Los Angeles native returned to the Wolves organization this season, he was determined to make an even bigger impact on the community.
That led to, among other initiatives, an expansion of the Team Up With 29 program. Formed originally to raise money for Chicago Wolves Charities with each goal he scores, the four-time AHL All-Star expanded Team Up With 29 to include the Wolves Wish program presented by KIND Snacks. Wolves Wish helps families and fans who are facing adversity and provides them with a special experience at a Wolves game.
“One of the first conversations we had was, ‘What more can we do and how can we give back?’ ” said Wolves senior vice president of operations Courtney Mahoney. “I couldn’t be more proud of him and in awe of his commitment to the community every day. He’s so good with the kids who are having a Wolves Wish fulfilled and he’s so good with their parents. He always puts them first on his list of priorities.”
Blake Burriss, one of the many young people whom Sterling has befriended during the course of this season, has become a familiar and welcome sight at Wolves games. Blake, who has struggled with brain tumors and the aftereffects of multiple surgeries, joined Sterling and senior Wolves management on the ice for Sunday’s award ceremony.
“To have Blake there to present the award was a special feeling, something I’ll always remember,” Sterling said. “When all is said and done, the hockey side of this fades away, but the human side of this sport is what remains. I never met Dan Snyder, but you hear the stories about the impact that he had. Even today, people still talk about him and what he did for people in Chicago.”
Sterling is a finalist for the AHL’s 2016-17 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which honors the league’s Man of the Year. The winner will be announced by the AHL on Tuesday (April 11).