If host Alex Trebek is in the house, can big-time “Jeopardy” winner James Holzhauer be far behind? On Wednesday night, the two both showed up as presenters at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Trebek, however, was the one who got the most fanfare.
Actor Jon Hamm introduced presenter Trebek as “one of the biggest hockey fans in the world” who “happens to be going through one of the toughest fights there is.” The audience took over from there, standing and applauding in support of the longtime TV personality, who’s been battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer (and sporting a hairpiece since undergoing chemotherapy).
Trebek took the standing O in stride, cutting right to the matter at hand: the National Hockey League’s Hart Trophy, which recognizes the player who’s most valuable to his team.
“As you all know, growing up in Canada, you realize very early on that hockey is in your DNA, and my favorite player of all time, my hockey hero, Gordie Howe, won the Hart Trophy six times,” he said. “And my favorite team, the Montreal Canadiens, has had 17 winners. So it’s a great thrill for me to be here tonight to hand this trophy to the best of the best of this new generation.”
The honor went to Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who also won the Ted Lindsay Award, for MVP voted on by the players association, and the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s points leader.
Not that Holzhauer went unnoticed, of course, as he and actor Jay Baruchel presented Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues with the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward.
“The NHL Awards show is definitely one of the most exciting offers I’ve gotten,” Las Vegas resident Holzhauer told the Review-Journal on Tuesday. “But having never been part of something like this before, I had no idea what I signed up for. They want me to walk a red carpet. Me!”
The 32-game “Jeopardy” winner earlier in the week also made a significant donation to a pancreatic cancer fundraising walk in Naperville, Ill., where he once lived and attended school, according to the Naperville Sun. The amount was $1,109.14 — an odd number, unless you know that it’s Holzhauer’s daughter’s birthday.
“For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors,” he wrote on the donation website.
You can watch Holzhauer survive his red-carpet debut below.
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