'Jeopardy' Host Alex Trebek Receives Standing Ovation During NHL Awards

Alex Trebek took the stage at the 2019 NHL Awards, where he brought the crowd to its feet and Jon Hamm nearly to tears Wednesday night.

The annual event, which celebrates the league's best regular-season performances, doubled as one of Trebek's few public appearances since announcing his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

"I would like to introduce you all to one of the biggest hockey fans in the world, and he happens to be going through one of the toughest fights there is," Hamm said onstage. "We are so happy to have him with us here tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Alex Trebek."

With that, Trebek made his entrance in a black suit and tie, bringing the audience inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas to its feet.

"Thank you, Las Vegas! And thanks to the hockey world for all your support as well," the Jeopardy! host said, before introducing the nominees for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

"Growing up in Canada, you realize very early on that hockey is in your DNA," the Ontario native said, recalling his "favorite player of all time," Gordie Howe, who had once won the award.

The 78-year-old went on to present this year's trophy for the league MVP to Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov.

Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which has a 9% survival rate, back in March. He told PEOPLE last month that despite the odds, he's been responding well to chemotherapy treatment and is in "near remission."

"The doctors said they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory … some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50%," Trebek said.

At the awards, Saturday Night Live comic Kenan Thompson hosted for the first time. Former host and Mad Men star Hamm, who was still celebrating his St. Louis Blues' Stanley Cup victory, got to introduce members of his hometown team to the stage, including Ryan O'Reilly, who won the Selke Trophy for Best Defensive Forward.


Other celebrity presenters included Chicago Fire actor Taylor Kinney, S.W.A.T. star Jay Harrington, Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch, All That's Kel Mitchell, Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer, Miss USA Cheslie Kyrst, model Camille Kostek, Miss Universe Catriona Gray and race car drivers Kurt Busch and Simon Pagenaud.

Photo credit: Ethan Miller / Staff / Getty