The biggest moment every year at the NHL awards ceremony is the presentation of the Hart Trophy to the league's MVP. That was the case again on 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 school student who noticed a potentially cancerous mole on Hamilton's neck during an Oct. 23 game in Seattle.
"Nadia is my MVP," Hamilton said. “I cannot thank this amazing woman enough for saving my life.”
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— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) June 22, 2022
Thanks to Popovici's warning while she was behind the bench, Hamilton had the mole examined. Doctors determined it was indeed cancerous, and it was removed. Had it gone unnoticed, it could have been fatal.
“Brian, when I first showed you that message on my phone, we were strangers,” Popovici said during their introductory remarks. “But now, it feels like we’re family.”
Hamilton originally didn't know Popovici's identity when she alerted him to the potential health scare she recognized from her volunteer work at hospitals, so the Canucks put out a call on social media to find her and thank her.
The two 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.
Contributing: Mike Brehm
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Canucks staffer, Kraken fan reunite at NHL awards after she saved life