The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) released the nominees this year’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy this afternoon. The list is comprised of one nominee per team as decided by the PHWA chapter in that city. The list is also a who’s who of inspirational and emotional stories across the league which can make the Masterton Trophy the most difficult award to vote for.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual awarded by the PWHA to the NHL players who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. As is the case every season, several of this year’s nominees have a legit claim to this trophy. Starting in our own backyard of Montreal, I love seeing Corey Perry being nominated. Full disclosure I thought Jake Allen was going to be the Habs nominee but watching Perry this season has been a pleasant surprise. Yes the skills are not at the level they once were, but the hockey IQ has not slipped one bit.
Now to put Perry into context, I doubt he even gets a vote among the list of nominees. He wouldn’t even make the list of honourable mentions when you consider the multiple feel good stories involved with this award. The nominees include guys who lead their team’s by example, players who have returned from devastating injuries, journeyman who’s perseverance is paying off with NHL success, and finally those who have advocated for equality for all and the well being of others.
Without going into detail about every story behind the nomination, here are the 3 players who could see themselves finish as finalists.
1. Matt Dumba (D) Minnesota Wild
Last year’s King Clancy winner refused to rest on the laurels of his accomplishments last season and continued to build on what he started off the ice. In the aftermath of the George Floyd murder last year, Dumba was one of several NHL players to step forward and create the Hockey Diversity Alliance. The group operates independently from the NHL and is committed to inspire a new and diverse generation of hockey players and fans.
Dumba’s work to create a more diverse NHL and hockey community didn’t end there. This past February, Dumba hosted the inaugural Matt Dumba Hockey Without Limits Camp as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. The camp was created to bring more diversity and inclusion to the game and help provide more children the opportunity to play the great sport of hockey. Dumba partnered with multiple foundations in the Minnesota to provide over 100 youth hockey players with the opportunity to take part in his camp.
2. Jack Campbell (G) Toronto Maple Leafs
Even as a Habs fans it’s hard to really hate on Jack Campbell. Coming to the Leafs from the Kings in a trade last season, it took some time for the trade to pay off, but it was well worth the wait. Campbell is having the best season of his career going 17-2-2 with a 2.11 GAA and 0.923 SV% while pushing the Leafs to the top of the North Division. All of this success comes after years of trying to cement himself as a full time NHL goalie, let alone starter.
The thing that really makes Campbell’s story special is how much his teammates love him. This could be a by-product of the Canadian media covering a Canadian team in an all-Canadian division, however like the Leafs or not, you will be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t like Campbell. After spending over a decade trying to crack a NHL roster permanently, it’s easy to cheer for a good guy finally finding success.
3. Oskar Lindblom (F) Philadelphia Flyers
Lindblom is a repeat nominee for the Flyers and for good reason. Lindbolm diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma (a form of cancer that develops in the bones and tissue around the bones) last December, effectively ending his season. In just 7 months Lindblom was cancer free and ringing the bell before joining his teammates in the Bubble during last season’s Return to Play and the playoffs.
Playing close to a full season with the Flyers this year, Lindblom embodies what this trophy stands for. He may have been nominated last season under the same circumstances, but the uphill battle that Lindholm continues to battle is one that fully deserves to be recognized.
There is no wrong answer to who should win this award. A case can be made for not just the three aforementioned players, but for several others who deserve some honourable mentions like Andrew Shaw, Chris Driedger, Tyler Motte and even Marc-André Fleury! Whoever you chose to support is your prerogative, but at the end of the day, there is no debate the winner will be worthy of the award.
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