Brendan Shanahan, left, has won the Mark Messier Leadership Award. ((Paul Hawthorne/Associated Press))

New York Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan is the first recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award.

The fledgling honour will be awarded monthly — by Messier himself — to an NHL player who leads by example on and off the ice.

"The NHL is fortunate to have so many players that embody all the attributes of great leadership," Messier explained Tuesday.

Shanahan, 37, has posted 13 goals and nine assists for 17 points in 22 games this season, his first with New York.

The seven-time all-star has totalled 611 goals and 1,254 points in 1,367 games over 19 NHL seasons for the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and Rangers.

Shanahan, from Mimico, Ont., received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy as the NHL's humanitarian of the year in 2003.

Messier, now retired but considered one of the finest leaders in pro sports, is the only player in NHL history to captain two teams to Stanley Cups, accomplishing the feat with the Edmonton Oilers and Rangers.

He also captained the Vancouver Canucks during his storied NHL career.

With files from the Associated Press