Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has won the 2012 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
Pacioretty staged a heroic comeback after suffering a fractured vertebrae and a severe concussion on a Zdeno Chara hit in Mar. 2011. After missing the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, Pacioretty came back with aplomb in 2011-12, setting career highs in goals (33), assists (32), points (65), game-winning goals (five) and shots on goal (286).
The Connecticut native also put himself in the history books by becoming the first American-born player to score 30 goals for the Canadiens.
Pacioretty edged out Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson and Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul for the award.
Past Masterton Winners
2011 Ian Laperriere (Philadelphia)
2010 Jose Theodore (Washington)
2009 Steve Sullivan (Nashville)
2008 Jason Blake (Toronto)
2007 Phil Kessel (Boston)
2006 Teemu Selanne (Anaheim)
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but now it’s confirmed: Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman will have to find new employers. The two veterans are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this summer and the Anaheim Ducks plan to move on without them.
Both are likely to take significant pay cuts in 2012-13 – if they get signed at all.
Blake is coming off of a five-year, $20 million contract that he never lived up to. He ended up with just seven goals and 12 points in 45 games this season. He’ll turn 39 in September, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up retiring over the summer. That being said, he might bounce back as an adequate bottom-six forward and veteran presence if he can stay healthy.
Hagman is coming off of a four-year, $12 million contract and he only declined over the life of that deal. He ended up with just nine goals and 23 points in 71 contests in 2011-12 – a far cry from his back-to-back-to-back 20-plus goal campaigns. A team might be willing to roll the dice on Hagman in the hopes that he’ll bounce back, but only if he’s relatively inexpensive.
As mentioned earlier, the finalists for this year’s Bill Masterton Trophy — given annually to the player best exemplifying perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey — are Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.
Before the vote, a few things to consider:
— This award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
— The Maple Leafs are quite familiar with this trophy. Phil Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer this season, won the Masterton in 2007 after missing 12 games because of testicular cancer mid-season. A year later, then-Leafs forward Jason Blake won the award after playing a full 82-game season following his diagnosis with chronic myelogenous leukemia.
— The last Canadien to win the award was Saku Koivu in 2001-02. Koivu overcame non-Hodgkin lymphoma to resume his captaincy duties for Montreal.
— No Senator has ever won the Masterton.
Onto the poll…
Tonight on NBCSN: Doubleheader fun with Wings-Jackets and Sharks-Ducks
It’s another doubleheader night on NBCSN and you could view tonight as a spoiler special as there are two teams that will be stuck on the outside of the playoff picture looking to mess things up for a pair of teams.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET)
The big news for Detroit is that they’re getting healthy, which means they’re getting more frightening to deal with. We’ve seen Jakub Kindl and Nicklas Lidstrom return and Johan Franzen appears ready to come back tonight. With Jonathan Ericsson also potentially back tonight and Jimmy Howard returning on Friday, the Wings are officially geared up for the postseason.
While coach Mike Babcock is resigned to the fact they’re likely to open the playoffs against Nashville, continuing to win would mean they have home ice advantage for that series. Columbus wouldn’t mind helping make sure Detroit stays on the road in the postseason.
Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks (10:00 p.m. ET)
The Sharks are today’s leader in the Pacific Division and that means they’re always either a win from seizing control of the situation or a loss away from giving someone else the lead and a lock on a playoff spot. With 88 points the Sharks are one point ahead of the Stars and Coyotes and two up on the Kings. It’s an uncomfortable place to be in, but for the Sharks to really enjoy the moment as Joe Thornton says they should, they’ll have to keep winning, something they’ve done three times in a row now.
The Ducks, meanwhile, want nothing more than to spoil things for their California rivals and if we can keep coach Bruce Boudreau from freaking out on the officials again, they might just be able to do that. The Ducks are just playing out the string at this point, but at least they’ve still got a host of superstar talent to threaten the Sharks with. Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Getzlaf are all still there and capable of putting a monster game together. That crew might just all stick around next season too if Selanne decides to play one more year. Considering they’ve lost six of their last 10 games, you’re never quite sure what you’ll get from Anaheim.
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