The NHL announced their three nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy today and remarkably the Wild’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard is not one of them.
In case you are wondering what the Masterton Trophy entails, it is for the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey” according to the NHL. It is named after Bill Masterton, a former North Stars player who in 1968 became the first (and so far only) player to die in a NHL game.
Don’t get me wrong, there are other players who are deserving of a nomination, but there aren’t three more deserving than PMB. The three nominees, Ray Emery of the Anaheim Ducks, Daymond Langkow of the Calgary Flames and Ian Laperriere of the Philadelphia Flyers played a combined fourteen games this season. Laperriere didn’t even play at all and most likely won’t. Bouchard on the other hand returned from a concussion (and missing an entire season) and was able to be one of the few bright spots in a disappointing season for the Wild; scoring twelve goals and displaying chemistry with multiple players.
Every team has a player who preserves injury or overcomes a horrific situation. That’s why each franchise has a player nominated. But for an award which has in the past been known for players overcoming serious injuries, some comebacks are better than others. It’s hard to fully overcome something or be dedicated to hockey if you come back at the end of the season; let alone putting up similar to better numbers than before. Just look at all the winners since the lockout.
2005–06 Teemu Selanne, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim: Overcame major knee surgery to score 90 points (40 goals and 50 assists)
2006–07 Phil Kessel, Boston Bruins: Missed 12 games because of testicular cancer mid season.
2007–08 Jason Blake, Toronto Maple Leafs: Was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia but still played a full 82-game season.
2008–09 Steve Sullivan, Nashville Predators: Played 41 games this season after missing nearly two years due to a fragmented disc in his back, and a strained groin.
2009–10 Jose Theodore, Washington Capitals: Had his best season since 2001–02 following his son Chase’s death in 2009 from complications stemming from his premature birth.
Bouchard did that this season. He did the same thing Daymond Langkow did (rehab from a serious injury which sidelined him for a year) and Emery but was able to play most of the season. He put up thirty-eight points in fifty-nine games. He was an ambassador for the game, speaking out for more concussion awareness in the league (which has happened this season as stars like Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard have been affected). That’s everything the award embodies and to snub Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s comeback from a year-long concussion as not being one of the top three cases in the NHL this season is nothing short of a travesty. I hope the PWHA (or at least the members outside the Minnesota contingency) takes a look at Bouchard’s case and feel ashamed; especially as concussions and post-concussion syndrome become a growing problem in the league.