Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils, Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes and Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” the National Hockey League announced on Wednesday.
A $2,500 grant from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.
The local chapters of the PHWA all nominate the player with the most heartbreaking or inspiring story of the last year. It is, as we’ve often said, the Lifetime Original Movie Award, given to the player who overcame the most horrific ailment (concussions, cancer, Josh Harding’s battle with MS) or the most personal strife (please see “Moore, Dominic” below).
Whose tale will jerk the most tears at the NHL Awards?
Why Jaromir Jagr Deserves The Masterton
From the NHL:
Jagr's unwavering dedication to the game has allowed him to continue playing at high level when most players his age are retired. The Devils named the 42-year-old right wing team MVP in 2013-14 after he led the club in assists (43), points (67), plus-minus (+16), game-winning goals (six) and shots (231). Admired throughout the League for his rigorous training regimen, Jagr credits working hard in practices to avoiding fatigue, allowing him to stay fresh and maintain an advantage over opponents late in games.
We’ll say this about Jagr: He does fulfill the “perseverance” portion of the award. Although the “dedication to hockey” part, while also commendable, might also have something to do with perseverance of his bank account …
Why Manny Malhotra Deserves The Masterton
From the NHL:
Malhotra, 33, was the Vancouver Canucks' Masterton nominee in 2011-12 after returning from a serious eye injury suffered the season before. Refusing to believe his NHL career was over last fall, Malhotra signed a professional tryout agreement with the Charlotte Checkers, Carolina's American Hockey League affiliate, on Oct. 3 and signed as a free agent with the Hurricanes four weeks later. He appeared in 69 regular-season games, assumed a leadership role in serving as an alternate captain and ranked second among all NHL players in face-off percentage (59.4%).
The embodiment of what this award should be about, Malhotra not only overcame his eye injury but overcame a lack of interest in his continued employment in the National Hockey League. He gambled on a PTO and won. Truly inspiring, and a amazing teammate to boot.
Why Dominic Moore Deserves The Masterton
From the NHL:
Moore, 33, returned to the NHL this season after taking a leave of absence from the League in the spring of 2012 in order to care for his wife, Katie, after she had been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. Katie passed away at the age of 32 in January of 2013. Moore thereafter established the Katie Moore Foundation (katiemoore.org), dedicated to helping patients and families with rare cancers through research, advocacy and community. He resumed his career as an integral part of a Rangers team that earned 96 points and a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division.
Sorry, it suddenly got really dusty in here. Please check back later (grabs tissue box)…
Who Wins The Masterton?
Moore. From a hockey perspective, Malhotra’s story really is like a puck fable. But there’s no denying how incredibly moving Moore’s story is. Like Jose Theodore’s win in 2010 following the death of his son, this one goes to Moore.
Our Ballot (via Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy)
1. Dominic Moore, New York Rangers
2. Manny Malhotra, Carolina Hurricanes
3. Paul Ranger, Toronto Maple Leafs
Moore has taken the death of his wife and turned it into a fantastic opportunity to help others fighting cancer.
Ranger took time off from the NHL for unknown reasons. He won't reveal why he walked away, but he came back reinvigorated and showed that his passion for the game is back.
Now, if only the NHL would finally take our advice and allow Hologram Bill Masterton to hand out the award …