Pekka Rinne, once pepper-sprayed by Finnish pizzeria owner, highlights ’13 Masterton nominee list

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The official nominees list is in for the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and, if voting is based purely on entertaining anecdotes, Pekka Rinne will be the runaway winner.

Nashville’s Masterton nominee for this season, Rinne had this story attached to his nomination bio:

In the summer of 2006, after Rinne’s first year in North America with the Milwaukee Admirals, he was at a bachelor party in Finland when he was a victim of an assault by a pizzeria owner.

The assailant fired pepper spray into Rinne’s eyes and tackled him. Rinne had to undergo shoulder surgery, which kept him out four months.

“I was still young and right away you’re thinking ‘this is it,’ ” Rinne said in a 2011 article about the incident. “It’s a scary feeling.”

Kudos to whoever wrote this for going into such detail, though now we’re left to wonder why a Finnish pizza joint owner was packing pepper spray. Is this, like, a thing?

Anyway, back to the Masterton…

The award is given annually to the National Hockey League player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to hockey.

Last year’s winner, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, captured the award after suffering a concussion and fractured vertebrae (on this hit from Zdeno Chara) to record career-highs in goals (33), assists (32) and points (65).

Each team was asked to submit one player for consideration for this year’s award.

They are:

Western Conference

Andrew Cogliano (Anaheim), Steve Begin (Calgary), Marian Hossa (Chicago), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Colorado), Vinny Prospal (Columbus), Ray Whitney (Dallas), Patrick Eaves (Detroit), Ryan Smyth (Edmonton), Jonathan Bernier (Los Angeles), Josh Harding (Minnesota), Pekka Rinne (Nashville), James Sheppard (San Jose), Brian Elliott (St. Louis), Shane Doan (Phoenix), Kevin Bieksa (Vancouver).

Eastern Conference

Adam McQuaid (Boston), Jochen Hecht (Buffalo), Dan Ellis (Carolina), Peter Mueller (Florida), Andrei Markov (Montreal), Stephen Gionta (New Jersey), Radek Martinek (New York Islanders), Marc Staal (New York Rangers), Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia), B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay), James Reimer (Toronto), Tom Poti (Washington), Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg).