Early this morning the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced the 31 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Masterton is the only player in NHL history to die as a result of injuries suffered in a game. During his first season in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars, Masterton died after sustaining massive head injuries following a hit during a game on January 13th, 1968, against the Oakland Seals.
The trophy was named in his honour and first recipient, Claude Provost, won it following the 1967/1968 season. The trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. It is often awarded to a player who has come back from career, or even life-threatening illness or injury.
McDavid suffered a serious knee injury during the final game of the 2018/2019 season in Calgary when he crashed into the goal post at full speed. He completely tore the Posterior Cruciate Ligament in his left knee. In July of 2019, doctors were still debating whether to perform surgery which could have cost McDavid more than half of this season, or possibly the entire season, or continue with the less invasive rehab and allow the tear to repair naturally.
Rarely do we see how much goes into rehabbing an injury, but McDavid, along with his doctors and support team decided to make a documentary detailing his rehab and consequent return to the NHL for the 2019/2020 season. Whatever It Takes took you on a behind-the-scenes tour of what McDavid’s rehab and training looked like. He, with guidance from doctors and medical people, decided to bypass surgery and rehab his knee instead.
Most of us don’t realize how much work goes into rehabbing a ripped up knee, shoulder or hip. It is an immense amount of work for any professional athlete, and the mental strain is often just as challenging as the physical hurdles.
Every season numerous professional athletes face a six to nine month rehab, sometimes even longer, and it was nice to get an inside look into what they go through. I think many of us take it for granted how much work it is to return to “normal” for athletes.
I believe McDavid still wasn’t 100% this season. He wasn’t able to train how he would had he been healthy, and regaining his full strength, or adding more, will occur now or in future off-seasons and I suspect he will be even more dominant in the future.
But the fact he was able to return to the NHL and score the second most points in the NHL was impressive. He is worthy of being the Oilers nominee for the Masterton.
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association proudly announces chapters’ nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: pic.twitter.com/EpBQDoMhe5
— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 9, 2020
Here are the other 30 nominees. Bobby Ryan, Stephen Johns, Oscar Lindblom, Robby Fabbri, Mark Letestu and Jay Bouwmeester could get strong consideration as well.
Recent winners include Robin Lehner, Brian Boyle and Craig Anderson and the complete list of winners is here.
The winner will be announced during the NHL awards later this year.
Voting for the NHL players awards occurs this week and awards that the PHWA vote on need to be in by Monday, June 15th at 3 p.m. MDT.
The PHWA vote for the Hart, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng and Norris. As well as the first and second All-star teams and the All-rookie team.
I take voting very seriously, and often it is very difficult to decide how to rank the order #1-#5.
This year deciding on who is #1 and #2 among Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes for the Calder is difficult. You can make a strong argument for both players.
The same can be said for Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin for the Hart Trophy.
For me, I find ranking The Selke and Lady Byng top-five is often the most difficult.
There will be 155 voters spread evenly throughout the NHL, and anyone who mentions eastern bias is simply incorrect.
In the past five years, there has been a total of 25 award winners and 14 played for Western Conference teams and 11 played in the East.
This season is a bit different, with 15% of the season not being played. And with the expanded qualifying round, does that impact how some vote?
There are some great debates for each award and I look forward to seeing the results.
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