Boyle, Luongo, Staal are 2018 Masterton Trophy Finalists

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Brian Boyle of the New Jersey Devils, Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers and Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes have been named finalists for the 2017-18 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The award, which is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

PHWA chapters in each NHL market nominate a player for the award each year and the top three vote-getters are then designated as finalists.

The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Brian Boyle’s story – via the NHL:

Before Boyle set foot on the ice as a New Jersey Devil, he faced his biggest test. At the start of training camp the 33-year-old was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone marrow cancer. He worked his way back into the lineup by Nov. 1 and notched 10 goals over his first 25 games, including a memorable goal on the Devils’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Prudential Center, a 3-2 win over Vancouver on Nov. 24. Boyle missed just three games after his season debut and represented the Devils at the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay. While handling his own illness, his family and his career, Boyle has approached every day with the same optimistic attitude and perseverance that has inspired and lifted the Devils’ locker room.

Roberto Luongo’s story – via the NHL:

Luongo, 39, overcame hand and groin injuries during the season and backstopped the Panthers’ drive for an Eastern Conference Playoff berth. Sidelined by injury since early December, the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, shutouts and appearances returned on Feb. 17 to help the Panthers defeat Calgary 6-3 and ignite a Florida rally in the East’s Wild Card race. In a 13-game span, Luongo went 9-3-1 with a 2.44 GAA and .928 SV%. On Feb. 22, Luongo delivered a heartfelt, unscripted speech to the crowd at BB&T Center prior to Florida’s game against Washington. The 12-year resident of nearby Parkland, Fla., addressed the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting during the Panthers’ pregame ceremony to honor the victims.

Jordan Staal’s story – via the NHL: 

Showing leadership and strength amidst a family tragedy, Staal was a key component of the Hurricanes throughout the season. In late February, Staal and his wife, Heather, announced their daughter, Hannah, was delivered stillborn due to a terminal birth defect previously diagnosed by doctors. Staal, who had assumed a bigger leadership role with the young Hurricanes by being named co-captain before the season, missed just three games following the tragedy. He registered 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) in 79 games, the second-highest goal and point totals in his six seasons with Carolina. The 29-year-old skated in his 800th NHL game on Dec. 27 against Montreal and scored his 200th goal on Jan. 12 against Washington.

2018 NHL Award finalists
Calder Trophy (Sunday)
Lady Byng Trophy
Norris Trophy
Selke Trophy
Vezina Trophy


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Boyle, Okposo, Staal among 2018 Masterton Trophy nominees

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The 31 nominees for the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy have been announced. The award, which is given to the players “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey,” will be handed out at the NHL awards show in June in Las Vegas.

The 31 nominees are selected by each Professional Hockey Writers’ Association chapter.

Anaheim Ducks – Andrew Cogliano
Arizona Coyotes – Jakob Chychrun
Boston Bruins – David Backes
Buffalo Sabres – Kyle Okposo
Calgary Flames – Matt Stajan
Carolina Hurricanes – Jordan Staal
Chicago Blackhawks – Jeff Glass
Colorado Avalanche – Carl Soderberg
Columbus Blue Jackets – Zach Werenski
Dallas Stars – Mattias Janmark
Detroit Red Wings – Niklas Kronwall
Edmonton Oilers – Adam Larsson
Florida Panthers – Roberto Luongo
Los Angeles Kings – Dustin Brown
Minnesota Wild – Matt Cullen
Montreal Canadiens – Antti Niemi
Nashville Predators – Auston Watson
New Jersey Devils – Brian Boyle
New York Islanders – Josh Bailey
New York Rangers – Chris Kreider
Ottawa Senators – Mark Borowiecki
Philadelphia Flyers – Claude Giroux
Pittsburgh Penguins – Kris Letang
San Jose Sharks – Joe Thornton
St. Louis Blues – Carter Hutton
Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos
Toronto Maple Leafs – Roman Polak
Vancouver Canucks – Derek Dorsett
Vegas Golden Knights – Brad Hunt
Washington Capitals – Devante Smith-Pelly
Winnipeg Jets – Tyler Myers

Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was last year’s winner.

Plenty of worthy choices among the 31, but hard to imagine Brian Boyle not winning this year’s award considering what he’s been through this season dealing with a diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia. He missed the opening month of the season and returned on Nov. 1, scoring his first goal a week later. He inspired a mural in New York City and later represented the New Jersey Devils at the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa in place of teammate Taylor Hall.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Poll: Who will win the 2012 Masterton Trophy?

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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…

Alfredsson, Lupul and Pacioretty are your Masterton finalists

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The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

This year, a trio of players from Canada’s Eastern Conference teams have been named finalists — Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.

Alfredsson

The 39-year-old returned for a 16th season with the Senators — the only team he’s ever played for — after offseason back surgery and a bleak outlook for 2011-12. Ottawa was coming off a 13th-place finish with a new head coach and one of the NHL’s youngest lineups, but rallied to finish eighth in the East on the strength of Alfie’s play. He had 27G-32A-56PTS, a plus-16 rating and was named a captain at the 2012 All-Star Game.

Lupul

Much like Alfredsson, he recovered from a back injury to put forth an All-Star performance.

From NHL.com:

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, who held the same role in Anaheim when Lupul initially injured his back in 2009, said he’s amazed Lupul accomplished what he did this season.

“He was hunched over, he couldn’t stand upright,” Carlyle told the Toronto Sun. “He had a hard time just moving. And he dropped about 20 pounds.”

Lupul said that number was closer to 40.

The 28-year-old finished the year with 25 goals and a career-best 67 points, despite playing just 66 games.

Pacioretty

His comeback might be the most impressive of all. Pacioretty recovered from a fractured vertebrae and concussion in Mar. 2011 — after the infamous Zdeno Chara hit — to score 33 goals and 65 points, becoming the first American player in Canadiens history to score 30 times.

“Everybody knew from the get-go that this guy [Pacioretty] was special,” Habs center David Desharnais told the Montreal Gazette. “He has a good shot, he’s a good skater who has good ability. He’s just proved this season that he’s one of the best.

“To overcome a broken neck the way he has is unbelievable.”

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Poll: Who will win the 2012 Masterton Trophy?

Edmonton writers nominate Potter for Bill Masterton Trophy

Typically the winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is someone who has overcome a major injury, but that’s not the only way you can get nominated for the award. Take Corey Potter, who is the Edmonton chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s nominee.

Potter’s story is one of defying the odds. After being selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NHL entry draft, Potter spent four years with Michigan State University before he played in a single minor league game. From there, he spent the next six seasons playing primarily for AHL squads. Over that span, he participated in just nine NHL games and going into the Oilers’ 2011-12 training camp, he was already 27 years old.

At that point, if you haven’t established yourself as a regular in the NHL, you’re probably not going to.

“It has definitely been a long road for me,” Potter said. “At some points you start to question yourself, if you can make it to that next level. You think that maybe you should head overseas or take a different route or start using your education. But I truly believed that I had something to give and that I could make it to that next level. I just never really gave up on it.”

Potter finally got that opportunity when he earned a roster spot on the Edmonton Oilers. Since then, he’s led all Oilers’ defensemen with 20 points in 53 games. He’s also in logging nearly 20 minutes per contest.

Next season Potter will have to prove himself all over again, but he’s prepared for that.

“You can’t get too comfortable,” he said. “You have to try and get better every summer, get bigger and stronger and faster. You can’t let up or lose your competitive edge at all. There’s a lot of people in the AHL waiting and fighting for spots.”

He should know.