The Masterton Trophy has typically been the “comeback player of the year” award in the NHL. But the Professional Hockey Writers Association made it clear its contingent this year that it shouldn’t necessarily be voted that way.
Of course, when the award’s definition includes “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey,” it’s tough not to vote for a player who has overcome injuries and/or personal strife.
There’s a good mix of players overcoming various odds and those who have reached personal milestones among the 2015 class.
The PHWA announced the nominees for all 30 teams on Friday, with the winner revealed June 24 in Las Vegas during the NHL awards.
Coming up, each team's nominee for the Masterton trophy.
Anaheim Ducks - Andrew Cogliano
His ironman streak of 619 games remains intact. Was also Ducks' nominee in 2013.
Arizona Coytes - Shane Doan
Overcame Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever last season, but what the Coyotes captain went through wasn’t known until this year. From his bio:
“Doan was almost immovable while recovering from the bacterial infection, which caused severe headaches, fever and muscle aches. At one point, he spent 18 hours in the hospital undergoing tests including a spinal tap. Even the U.S. government was monitoring the case to see if this was the start of an outbreak in Arizona.”
You can also add captaining a Coyotes side that hopes for the playoffs in October, but are now dreaming of McEichel in June.
Boston Bruins - Patrice Bergeron
Has been Boston’s best player as the Bruins dealt with a rash of injuries that hit their lineup this season, turning what’s typically been an automatic playoff berth into a fight for the postseason.
Buffalo Sabres - Mike Weber
The longest-serving Sabre has watched teammates get traded and the team fall down the standings as GM Tim Murray eyes Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. When Sabres fans cheered goals by the Coyotes, Weber expressed his frustration after the game.
Calgary Flames - Kris Russell
Back-to-back seasons of career highs in points and broke the NHL's single-season records for blocks. As of Friday, he has 274, 67 more than second-place Roman Josi.
Carolina Hurricanes - Nathan Gerbe
Overcame a back injury that nearly cost him his career and personal tragedy.
Chicago Blackhawks - Scott Darling
One of the great stories of the 2014-15 season. The Blackhawks are Darling’s 12th team in the last five seasons. He’s played in the SPHL, ECHL, AHL and now NHL, all while going sober in 2011.
Colorado Avalanche - Alex Tanguay
For overcoming hip and knee injuries, as well as a broken jaw, thanks to an Alex Ovechkin shot, and posting his eighth career 20-goal season.
Columbus Blue Jackets - Nick Foligno
Nominated for the second straight year, Foligno has set career highs offensively while becoming an advocate for the surgery that his daughter needed after being born with a congenital heart defect.
Dallas Stars - Patrick Eaves
For overcoming a broken foot and a concussion. Was nominated in 2013 while a member of the Red Wings.
Detroit Red Wings - Pavel Datsyuk
For his continuing production and two-way play for the Red Wings.
Edmonton Oilers - Matt Hendricks
For providing veteran leadership on an Oilers team that could use some. He’s also been a big supporter of the Defending the Blue Line charity.
Florida Panthers - Tomas Kopecky
For overcoming a concussion that cost him a spot on the Slovakian Olympic team in 2014 and playing a key role on the team’s fourth line.
Los Angeles Kings - Robyn Regehr
Has stepped in the absence of Slava Voynov and while Alec Martinez was dealing with a concussion. Has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time while being the oldest player on the defending Stanley Cup champions.
- Devan Dubnyk
After looking like he was turning into an NHL journeyman, Dubnyk was deal to the Wild in January and on April 2 started his 36th straight game for the team, helping to put them into a playoff spot. His play has also warranted Hart and Vezina Trophy talk.
Montreal Canadiens - Andrei Markov
For posting his best season in years as a 36-year old. Has played every game this season for Montreal and averages nearly 25 minutes a night. Was Canadiens’ nominee in 2013.
Nashville Predators - Pekka Rinne
Rinne missed nearly a month with a knee injury, but has been the backbone of a Predators team that is in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy. Was also Nashville’s nominee in 2013.
New Jersey Devils - Jordin Tootoo
For earning a contract with the Devils after joining the team in training camp on a tryout.
New York Islanders - Lubomir Visnovsky
Has battled concussion symptons and back issues the past two seasons, and remains a key cog on the Islanders’ blue line.
New York Rangers - Marc Staal
For overcoming previous injuries and becoming a leader inside the team’s dressing room. Was Rangers’ nominee in 2013,
Ottawa Senators - Andrew Hammond
Who knew this 27-year old would be the story of the NHL’s second half. His 14-1-1 record in his first 16 NHL starts helped boost the Senators into the Eastern Conference’s playoff mix. His nickname, The Hamburglar, also took off in Ottawa where fans threw burgers onto the ice after victories.
Philadelphia Flyers - Nick Schultz
Schultz is one of the elder statesmen on the Flyers’ roster along with Vincent Lecavalier. After starting the season as a healthy scratch, injuries forced him into the lineup where he’s stayed, playing 74 of the past 75 games.
Pittsburgh Penguins - Kris Letang
For overcoming a stroke and two concussions in the past 15 months.
San Jose Sharks - Scott Hannan
For reaching 1,000 NHL games in his 16th season.
St. Louis Blues - Brian Elliott
Took the reigns of the No. 1 job in St. Louis and played himself to the All-Star Game, when he decided to end a vacation early to act as an injury replacement in Columbus. Was Blues’ nominee in 2013.
Tampa Bay Lightning - Tyler Johnson
The undrafted, undersized pivot has played himself into one of the Lightning’s best players, posting 26 points and 67 points in this, his sophomore season.
Toronto Maple Leafs - Stephane Robidas
For overcoming two broken legs and acting as an influence on many of Toronto’s young defensemen.
Vancouver Canucks - Henrik Sedin
For remaining an elite scorer in the post-Tortorella era.
Washington Capitals - Eric Fehr
Wrote an anti-bullying book for children and spent time in schools reading it to kids. Also, after battling back from three shoulder surgeries is two goals away from matching his career-high (21).
Winnipeg Jets - Ondrej Pavelec
For re-gaining his starting job in Winnipeg and helping keep the Jets in the hunt for a wild card spot in the Western Conference.
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