Tracking the Masterton Nominees (updated 4/12/10)

(Last updated: 4/12/10. Added: Buffalo, Edmonton)

I love Jose Theodore's story and I think his story is compelling enough to make a good case for the Masterton Trophy, but I have to wonder - what other stories are out there? There are a lot of amazing people in hockey and a lot of good stories, and it's hard to guess at who might win and who should win without the stories behind the nominations.

James Mirtle's list of Masterton nominees includes the names of the nominees, but I've gone and done a little digging into the stories of the other nominees. See below the jump - I'm going to continue to update this as I get more information - if a team isn't listed here, they haven't named their nominee yet. If a team does and you find a link to it, by all means share and I'll be grateful.

Note: Special thanks to sk84fun_dc for sharing a lot of her links with me. Some I also found on my own prior to getting around to checking my email; some are hers. Thanks!

Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne

From the LA Times:

Selanne, 39, has been limited by injuries to 53 games this season. He has 26 goals and 47 points with a plus-3 rating and 16 penalty minutes. On March 21 he became the 18th player in NHL history to score 600 goals and surpassed childhood idol Jari Kurri for possession of 17th on the all-time goals list with his 602nd and 603rd goals on April 2.

Selanne became one of only three Europeans to score 600 goals and one of only seven right wingers to accomplish the feat. His two power-play goals on April 2 were the 217th and 218th of his career, moving him past Mike Gartner to rank ninth in career power-play goals. A recipient of the 2006 Masterton Trophy, Selanne has rebounded from several injuries this season, including fractures of his hand (15 games) and jaw (eight games).

Worth noting: Per Paul Kukla, Selanne as the Masterton winner from 2006 is not eligible to win again.

Atlanta Thrashers: Jim Slater

This nomination is a mystery to me. A quick search of the web has turned up no articles on or explanations for the nomination. I'll keep looking.

Boston Bruins: Mark Recchi

Boston's pretty prolific on the subject.

From NESN:

"There’s no question that he should be up for that award," Lucic said. "He comes to the rink, works hard every day, even though there’s a lot of 42-year-olds that don’t move like him. But he’s great. He’s a great leader. As a young guy, he’s someone you can look up to and even if you have a question, just to talk about anything, he’s there for you all the time.

"This year, when he’s moving up the goal ladder, it’s been fun to see, and when I’m done with my career, it will be cool to say, ‘I played with Mark Recchi.'"

Here's the official release:

"In playing in every game for the Bruins this season, and doing so with undying enthusiasm and desire, Mark Recchi proved age is just a number. On a team that's dealt with tons of adversity, Recchi has been a player the Bruins can count on night in and night out for hard-nosed play and leadership. His cordial demeanor off the ice and ever-present smile make him a welcome fixture in the dressing room. All these things combine to make the future Hall-of-Famer a worthy candidate for the Masterton," said Matt Kalman, PHWA Boston chapter chairman and founder of

SCoC chimes in but has an interesting take:

Mark Recchi is a not bad choice. Anybody who is 42 years old and still playing the NHL is certainly dedicated. My vote (if I had one) would have gone to Patrice Bergeron, though. Bergeron was nominated for the award last year, so I guess the hockey scribes want to recognize someone else, but it is hard to deny that Bergeron showed a ton of these qualities this season.

Can't say I disagree. Bergeron would have been a great choice.

Buffalo Sabres: Ryan Miller

What, are they planning to bury Miller in hardware and make him lug it all around in lieu of an offseason conditioning regimen or something?

From The Buffalo News:

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ryan Miller's dedication to hockey extended from coast to coast when he achieved Olympic stardom. The Buffalo Sabres' goaltender was everywhere. He chatted nationally with "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest while in Vancouver. After the Sabres played in New York, Miller stayed behind for a daylong media tour that included appearances on "The Today Show" and VH1, and interviews with the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among others.

So wait. Let me get this straight. Being buried in interviews is a hardship?

Okay, so I'll grant Ryan Seacrest. But still.

Calgary Flames: Craig Conroy

From the Calgary Sun:

Injuries — first a wrist, then a knee and finally a broken bone in his foot — limited his effectiveness.

Thanks, in part, to that aforementioned scoring drought, he entered Thursday night’s clash with the Minnesota Wild with just three goals and 15 points in 61 games.

It all pales in comparison to failing to make the playoffs.

I'd feel this one more if it was next year and he's bounced back from it. Right now, though ... this one doesn't do it for me.

Carolina Hurricanes: Rod Brind'Amour

From Canes Now:

Brind'Amour's willingness to give up the captaincy he had held since the fall of 2005 helped the Hurricanes look to the future, and in his 21st season he continues to play a valuable role for the Hurricanes.

He's been nominated before, last year and in 2004, so this might be more a "body of work" nomination than anything else.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brent Sopel

From the Daily Herald:

The 33-year-old Sopel last season missed 51 games because of injuries, including elbow surgery, but has worked his way back into a key role on the Hawks’ defense as a penalty killer and shot blocker.

Sopel, in his 11th NHL season, often limps off the ice because of the beating he takes blocking shots, but he has missed only nine games this season.

No, blocking shots is definitely not a fun activity. Do what you gotta do and keep on trucking, that's what he does. But is it enough to get him a finalist nod?

Not everyone agrees with the nomination, though. Red Rising had an, um, interesting choice.

Patrick Kane has to overcome the attention he received by media outlets in Chicago and across the World for his extracurricular, off-ice activities. The same core of hockey writers in Chicago that snubbed Kane for the Masterton Trophy nomination, unjustly covered the incident with the Buffalo cabbie, and the infamous Vancouver limo ride with John Madden, Kris Versteeg and a couple fives. Every opportunity they got, these co-called professional writers salivated at the opportunity to lambaste him for the sole purpose of readership. Through it all, Kane leads the team in points, hair gel and silver medals. If Ken Daneyko can win the Masterton Trophey for being an alcoholic, why can’t Kane win it for being a party boy?

Are you kidding me? This isn't an award for being an immature idiot and dealing with the consequences of that.

Colorado Avalanche: Matt Hendricks

From the Denver Post:

A Minnesotan, Hendricks played a full four-season career at St. Cloud State and signed with Nashville in 2004, then embarked on what seemed to be a classic journeyman's minor-league run, which even saw him drop down from the AHL for 54 games with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL in 2004-05, and otherwise play for Milwaukee, Lowell, Rochester, Hershey, Providence and Lake Erie in the AHL.

He was considered an organizational minor-league player, no more, even when he signed with the Bruins organization in 2007 and was traded to the Avalanche organization for Johnny Boychuk in 2008. This season, helped by the fact that new Colorado coach Joe Sacco had him at Lake Erie and liked what he saw, Hendricks finally stuck in the NHL.

I didn't know Matt Hendricks played in Hershey.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Jared Boll

From the official release on

Boll, 23, tallied four goals and three assists for seven points with a team-leading 149 penalty minutes and ranking third with 123 hits in 68 games this season before suffering a season ending hand injury at New Jersey on March 23. This season marks the third-straight in which he has led the club in penalty minutes.

Um, okay. Yeah.

Detroit Red Wings: Tomas Holmstrom

From the Detroit News:

While he enjoys the scrums in front of the net and getting whacked and diced by opponents, it's taken a toll.

But that's the role in which Holmstrom has thrived, despite having to fight injuries.

And it's because of that role Holmstrom was nominated for the Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Apparently Holmstrom thought the media was pulling his chain when he was told that he was nominated.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Holmstrom said. "I’ve never heard about that award."

When the award, which is given to the player who demonstrates sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to the game, was explained to Holmstrom he understood.

"I’m honored," he said.

Gotta love that.

Edmonton Oilers: Jason Strudwick

From (courtesy sk84fun_dc)

Among many charitable appearances, Strudwick is Honorary Co-Chair for the Inner City Children’s Project Society; participates regularly in the Stollery Children’s Hospital programs and visits and is a nominee for the 2009/2010 NHL Foundation Award.

This honestly sounds like it'd be better suited as a King Clancy nomination. Taking nothing away from this - it's a beautiful thing - but I don't think it's quite what the Masterton is about.

Florida Panthers: Bryan Allen
I was a little surprised that David Booth wasn't the nominee, but when I read this from the Sun Sentinel, I understood.

Keith Ballard has gotten used to seeing his roommate on the road, Bryan Allen, getting treatment on his left knee a couple of times a day in the team's hotel.

He has watched his fellow Panthers defenseman work an hour before the game to warm up that same knee, on which Allen has had seven surgical procedures, then stay late after practices and games to tend to it some more.

This probably isn't an appropriate place to make a bad joke about Bryan Allen's safety with such a roommate. But then, he's not a goalie, so I guess it doesn't count.

Los Angeles Kings: Brad Richardson

From the official release on

Foot injuries hampered this speedy center/left wing last season and limited him to only 31 games, and his job was in jeopardy. At his exit meeting with Coach Terry Murray last April, Murray recalled Richardson being adamant that he would rebound this season and earn more playing time -- and that’s exactly what has happened.

Pretty awesome, but I don't think it's outstanding, myself.

Minnesota Wild: Guillaume Latendresse

From Michael Russo (s/t to sk84fun_dc):

After floundering for three-plus seasons being a hometown kid in Montreal, Latendresse was traded to the Wild for Benoit Pouliot and became a revelation this season. In 55 games, he’s scored 25 goals and 37 points. Only two players in Wild history (Marian Gaborik and Brian Rolston) have scored more.

Here's another write-up (again courtesy sk84fun_dc):

Guillaume Latendresse picked up zero goals and two assists in his past seven games before missing Thursday night's Wild road finale against the Calgary Flames with a back injury, but his good-natured attitude has not ceased.

Dunno - is there a better candidate? sk84fun_dc suggests Nolan or Brunette - I can see Nolan as a "body of work" award.

Montréal Canadiens: Jaroslav Halak

From the Montreal Gazette:

Halak’s road to the NHL has been a difficult one. He was drafted in the ninth round (271st overall) in 2003 after leading Slovakia to a silver medal at the IIHF world under-18 championship.

"When I got drafted, I was happy on one side because I was drafted but I was a little disappointed because it was the ninth round, almost at the end.

"I was really far away from getting to the NHL but I had my goals, I had my dream and my goal in junior was to get to the NHL. I was the lucky one to get here and stay here."

Nashville Predators: Joel Ward

From The Tennessean:

He pla­yed four years in juniors, then went the unu­sual route of pla­ying four years at the Uni­ver­sity of Prince Edward Island, where he ear­ned a Socio­logy degree and was named his conference’s most sports­man­like pla­yer as a senior. Ward was never draf­ted and toi­led almost enti­rely in the AHL for three sea­sons before get­ting his big break in Nash­vi­lle last season.

He’s res­pon­ded with a com­bi­ned 30 goals over the past two years.

But for my money, this is the million dollar quote from that article:

"Obviously with a lot of dedi­ca­tion and hard work, anything is pos­si­ble. Ever­yone over­co­mes obs­tac­les, some more than others. But it’s a lot easier to achieve your goals when it’s something you love to do.’’

Section 303 sent me another take that I thought was interesting:

Ward took about the oddest path to the NHL one could expect. He played four seasons in junior, then a handful of playoff games for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the WCHL, then played four years in college for the University of Prince Edward Island, then skated in the AHL for two years. All before finally making the NHL with the Minnesota Wild in 2006-07. He was signed as a free-agent off the proverbial scrap heap by the Predators that summer and went onto become the biggest surprise of the season for Nashville, tallying 35 points. Considering no one thought he’d make the parent club roster, his 17 goals and 18 assists was quite the accomplishment.

Very nice. This one also makes me smile because you just don't see all that many African-Americans in hockey, and it's always good to prove that it's not a racist sport.

New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias


Elias, the Devils' all-time scoring leader, has overcome numerous setbacks in recent seasons, including a severe case of hepatitis-A contracted while playing in Russia during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

He also missed the start of this season after undergoing hip and groin surgery in June.

Elias is a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and has done extensive work with that organization.

Solid nomination and great choice, IMO.

New York Rangers: Chris Drury

Getting a link for this one was really annoying because Newsday insists that you sign up for their spam service before giving you the article, and everyone else links to Newsday. Still, I did get this:

But this isn’t about Tortorella. This is about the way Drury goes about playing hockey. And that has nothing to do with his offensive production (13 goals, 18 assists going into tonight’s game) or the contract he signed because the Rangers offered him. This is about the way he sacrifices his body every time he steps onto the ice and never takes a shift off. And, yes, for the leadership qualities he has.

Torts' comment on the nomination was pretty good, too.

Ottawa Senators: Matt Carkner

From the official release at

The 29-year-old native of nearby Winchester, Ont., has surely needed plenty of that during eight seasons of riding the buses in the minors. Carkner saw only two games of previous NHL action before he battled his way onto the Senators' roster in training camp. A month later, he gained the security of a two-year, one-way contract.

Reason enough for the media who cover the Senators for the city's three newspapers to bestow upon Carkner a much-deserved nomination for the Masterton. Not that he thinks he did anything special to get where he is today, a decade after the Montreal Canadiens made him a second-round pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

Philadelphia Flyers: Michael Leighton

I wasn't able to find any good explanations for this choice online or any links about it. Maybe Ben can comment better than I?

Phoenix Coyotes: Vernon Fiddler


He’s changed the mind-set a lot of times in a game where you have to lay it all on the line to win a game, and he does it – and there’s not even a second thought in his mind whether he’s going to do it or not. He does that, and that makes him a very special player in that regard. His commitment to winning and his commitment to his team is second to none.

I don't see this one.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Bill Guerin

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

It just worked out that the old man of the bunch, 39-year-old winger Bill Guerin, stepped up. He took on Atlanta's Jim Slater, 11 years younger, late in the first period of a scoreless game and won the fight decisively. The bout included an uppercut that dropped Slater to the ice and ended it.

Great stuff, no doubt. That takes cojones. But will it be enough to put him over the top?

San Jose Sharks: Jed Ortmeyer

From the Monterey Herald:

Right wing Jed Ortmeyer, who is on a strict medical regimen that enables him to continue his hockey career despite a life-threatening blood clotting disorder, has been nominated for the Masterton Trophy.

Wow. Rough stuff right there. Read the whole article for a fuller explanation.

St. Louis Blues: Erik Johnson

I'm not getting any explanation on this one, only a brief mention in the bottom of this article about Keith Tkachuk. Anybody got anything?

Tampa Bay Lightning: Kurtis Foster

From Tampa Bay Online (s/t sk84fun_dc)

Two years ago, Lightning defenseman Kurtis Foster wasn't sure if he'd be able to walk normal again, let alone skate.

Yet, in his first full season back in the NHL following a severely broken left leg, Foster might be playing the best hockey of his professional life with career highs in games played (68), assists (31) and points (39) in his first season with Tampa Bay.

No doubt that this is one hell of a story. Gotta give the man full props for it. To bounce back from something like that to have a career year - my hat's off to him.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Jonas Gustavsson

From Wikipedia (s/t to Chris Burton):

Gustavsson endured a setback on the first day of camp, traced to a heart condition that required an ablation surgery process. After overcoming a groin strain, he was diagnosed with a racing heart en route to a road shutout against the Montreal Canadiens on December 1, which led to a second ablation. Gustavsson was also dealing with a new country, new language, new team and the different NHL rink size and rules. Through it all, he gradually improved his game and was named to the 2010 Swedish Olympic team. He won seven straight starts in March to tie the Leafs’ club record for the longest winning streak by a rookie goaltender. To date, his record is 16-14-9 with a 2.82 GAA and a .904 save percentage.

More from The Globe and Mail (s/t to sk84fun_dc):

"I can't think of a professional athlete who has had two heart surgeries in the course of the season and managed to come back and play as well as he is," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "In addition to everything else he's had in his life in the past year with the change (of culture), his mom passing away. It's been a long year for him and he's really playing well right now."

Vancouver Canucks: Henrik Sedin

From the Vancouver Sun (s/t to missy):

Earlier in his career, Henrik was ridiculed for his lack of effectiveness and what some considered "soft play." He averaged less than 37 points in his first four seasons before breaking through with 75 in 2005-06.

The award not only recognizes Henrik's commitment to improving himself as a player but also his selfless attitude off the ice, as he and brother Daniel donated $1.5 million to BC Children's Hospital last month.

Washington Capitals: Jose Theodore

Becca H covered this beautifully in her post on the topic, so I'm just going to send you to read the link. I said that was all you needed to know, but Corey proves me wrong.

None of his teammates on the Washington Capitals would have thought less of Jose Theodore had he kept to himself more this season or not been as engaged with the team’s overwhelming success.

Given what Theodore has gone through since the end of last season, they would have understood. That hasn’t been the case though. Theodore’s ability to handle personal tragedy of incalculable scope and still be not only a key player for the Capitals but a quality teammate as well is a big reason why the 33-year-old netminder was an easy choice as a nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

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