Today, the Professional Hockey Writer’s association, chapter by chapter, have been revealing their team nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. In the case of the Red Wings, the Detroit Chapter of the organization has named Pavel Datsyuk as the player best suited for the award.
The trophy, by description, is awarded to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”. Each chapter nominates a local candidate before collectively voting on the best option of the thirty available.
The award was named Bill Masterton, who was the first player to ever score for the expansion Minnesota North Stars and to date is the only player to pass away as a direct result of an in-game injury in the NHL.
While the award got its start by honouring journeymen, it has evolved to, for the most part, acknowledge players that have overcome illness, injury, or personal roadblocks shortly prior to a productive season. For the most part, the nomination process reveals role models across the hockey community for the next generation to look up to. Two Red Wings have received the accolade; Brad Park in 1982/83 honour of his long career without a Stanley Cup, and Steve Yzerman for overcoming multiple ailments in 2002/03.
Datsyuk receives Detroit’s nomination as a result of the multiple occasions that he’s played through injury over the past couple of seasons. From a team perspective, that may not be the wisest of decisions, but nobody can question Datsyuk’s dedication to the team when he plays through the pain.
Granted, it probably won’t be enough to make him the winner; Mats Zuccarello, Pascal Dupuis, and Shayne Gostisbehere headline a list of stellar finalists, but it’s always nice to see the magic man get recognised. We’ll find out who ends up on top at the NHL awards in June.