Masterton Trophy Finalists: Sidney Crosby vs. Josh Harding vs. Adam McQuaid

The NHL on Tuesday announced the finalists for the Bill Masterton Trophy, as center Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, goaltender Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild and defenseman Adam McQuaid of the Boston Bruins are up for the award that is given “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

The local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominate 30 players for the award; the top three vote-getters were the finalists for the award.

This is the NHL’s "Lifetime Original Movie" award, given to the player who overcame the most horrific ailment (concussions, cancer, catastrophic injuries) or the most personal strife (Jose Theodore winning after the death of his son).

All three of this year’s nominees have varying degrees of heart-wrenching stories to tell.

That said, they could have just announced this year’s field is “Josh Harding and two other guys who didn’t have multiple sclerosis" and been done with it, because Josh Harding is going to win the Masterton.

Why Sidney Crosby Deserves The Masterton

From the NHL:

Crosby took to the ice in 2012-13 following two seasons in which he had missed extended time due to concussion symptoms. His offseason training and preparation paid off in a remarkable start to the season, as he recorded points in nine of his first 11 games. He continued his torrid scoring into March, helping the Penguins post 15 consecutive wins. Crosby led the League in points by a double-digit margin on March 30, when he was struck in the face with a puck. He underwent surgery that night for a broken jaw and significant dental work was required in later days while he worked toward a return to the Penguins lineup.

You don’t get more dedicated to hockey than Sidney Crosby, both in his recovery from injury and the tangible leadership he brings to the Penguins in his work ethic. That whiner/diver rap obscures the fact that Crosby is one of the grittiest players in the League when he’s on his game, and it a tireless worker when it comes to practice and fitness.

But that whiner/diver stuff does make one wonder about the “sportsmanship” aspect of this award …

Why Josh Harding Deserves The Masterton

From the NHL:

When faced with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, an incurable autoimmune disease, last fall, Harding made it clear that his career wasn’t over. In his first start of the season, Harding made 24 saves to shut out the Dallas Stars 1-0 on Jan. 20. On Feb. 12, after feeling ill from medications treating the disease, he was placed on Injured Reserve and missed 33 games as he continued treatment. However, the netminder continued his fight with the disease and, after a two-game conditioning assignment with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, was activated from Injured Reserve on April 22 and returned to the Wild lineup.

Josh Harding is going to win the Masterton.

Why Adam McQuaid Deserves The Masterton

From the NHL:

McQuaid suffered a season-threatening injury in September when his right arm grew increasingly swollen. He was diagnosed with a condition known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that was causing dangerous blood clots to form in his body. After undergoing two emergency surgeries to remove the blood clots, the defenseman was deemed unfit to continue his normal offseason workouts in order to give his body adequate time to heal. McQuaid’s dedication to his rehabilitation efforts later in the fall hastened his recovery and he skated alongside his teammates on opening night of the 2012-13 season against the New York Rangers at TD Garden.

McQuaid’s recovery from what was an horrific health scare is admirable, and he’s also a player who’s made his way back from other injuries during his NHL career. Granted, sometimes he injured himself, but …

Our Ballot

1. Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild

2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

3. Dan Ellis, Carolina Hurricanes

Just like a comedy never gets nominated for Best Picture over a drama, a simple tale of a veteran player doggedly working his way back to the NHL with a backup goalie job doesn’t get any love. Maybe if Dan Ellis had contracted E-Coli or something ...

Who Wins The Masterton?

Josh Harding is going to win the Masterton. End of discussion.

Well, unless the discussion is being facilitated by Hologram Bill Masterton:

“OHHHH, you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? Well I DIED.”