The biggest moment of each year at the NHL awards ceremony is the presentation of the Hart Trophy to the league’s most valuable player. That was the case again Tuesday night, but it wasn’t because of who won the award (Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews), it was because of who presented it.
Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton appeared on stage in Tampa with Nadia Popovici, the aspiring medical student who noticed a potentially cancerous mole on Hamilton’s neck during a an October 23 game in Seattle.
“Nadia is my MVP,” Hamilton said. “I can’t thank this amazing woman enough for saving my life.”
SPORTS NEWSLETTER:Sign up now to receive daily updates sent to your inbox
Thanks to Popovici’s warning while behind the bench, Hamilton had the mole examined. Doctors determined that it was indeed cancerous and it was removed. If it had gone unnoticed, it could have been fatal.
“Brian, when I first showed you this message on my phone, we were strangers,” Popovici said during their opening remarks. “But now it feels like a family.”
Hamilton was originally unaware of Popovici’s identity when she alerted him to the potential health scare which she recognized through her volunteer work in hospitals, so the Canucks issued an appeal on social networks to find her and thank her.
The two men first met in person when the Canucks returned to Seattle in January. The teams gave Popovici a $10,000 scholarship to medical school as a token of their appreciation.
Contributor: Mike Brehm