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.