New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus was given the Order for Merits to Lithuania by Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite. Order for Merits is an award given to a Lithuanian citizen whose distinguished services promote the name of Lithuania, expand the development of international relationships, and display distinguished merits in social, culture, science, business, sport, military and in other areas.
Zubrus started a charity in 2008 to help bring awareness to youth hockey in Lithuania. Dainius raised money to have rinks built in Lithuania and get equipment for the kids to play hockey. He is trying to popularize an otherwise unpopular sport in Lithuania. During the ceremony he was asked if he would be playing for the Lithuanian national team at the 2014 World Championship Division I Group B.
Zubrus said “When you get an Order for Merits from the hands of the President, I don’t know how I could refuse to play for the national team. Of course the NHL has first priority. But if we fail to make the playoffs and I’m healthy, I will come of course.”
Zubrus is only 1 of 2 Lithuanians to ever play in the NHL, and is the only current Lithuanian NHL player. He has played 1,087 NHL games over 16 seasons with 6 different NHL Teams. He has 208 goals and 340 assists. He has played in 92 Playoff games and has 11 goals and 24 assists.