The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." The award was presented by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association to honor the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited those qualities. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice injury.
The Masterton Trophy will be awarded at the 2009 NHL Awards broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on June 18, 2009. Airing on CBC in Canada and VERSUS in the United States, the 2009 NHL Awards will bring together the League's best players, celebrities and other NHL VIPs in celebration of the season's brightest stars.
The following players have been nominated by the PHWA membership to represent their teams from the Northeast Division:
Boston: Patrice Bergeron -- Just a year and a half ago, Patrice Bergeron was nearly paralyzed and suffered a severe concussion from a hit from behind. His determination to be back by the 2008 playoffs nearly paid off, as he amazingly would have been ready to take the ice had the Bruins reached the second round last spring.
This season, Bergeron suffered yet another concussion, but has since returned to approach the high-caliber level of play for which he was known before the injuries. His credo of respect and "playing the right way" is reflected in his style on the ice -- always hard, always physical, always clean.
Buffalo: Teppo Numminen -- Having undergone September 2007 surgery to repair a faulty valve in his heart, Teppo Numminen's lengthy and distinguished career was in jeopardy. He refused to allow just the 2007-08 season to be played without him.
Numminen fought back for seven grueling months just to make it into the Sabres' lineup for the regular-season finale. Having proved he could make it all the way back, the 40-year-old, four-time Finnish Olympian was determined to play at least another full season and has provided leadership and served as a role model for his young Sabres teammates in this, his 20th NHL season.
Montreal: Patrice Brisebois -- It looked as if Patrice Brisebois was on his way out of hockey after undergoing back surgery while playing for Colorado in 2006-07. He was signed in August 2007 by the Montreal Canadiens, the team with which he had played his first 14 NHL seasons, merely as a bargain-priced insurance policy. But he played 43 games and earned another contract.
The 38-year-old Montreal native returned to his hometown team this season with no playing time guarantees but has taken advantage of injuries to other players to surpass last year's totals reach 1,000 games played for his career.
Ottawa: Daniel Alfredsson -- Daniel Alfredsson has gotten better with age. His leadership style often critiqued when he was a younger player, the Senators' captain has convinced all skeptics with the resilience and courage he has displayed ever since entering the NHL in 1995-96. Just last spring, Alfredsson returned to the lineup to help the Senators in the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins only days after suffering a serious leg injury in a regular-season game in Toronto.
This season, he missed only one game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and one with a broken jaw. Off the ice, Alfredsson is involved with the Royal Ottawa Hospital Foundation which benefits the treatment of mental illness.
Toronto: Ian White -- A healthy scratch for the Maple Leafs' first 11 games this season, Ian White refused to allow a glut of defensemen to render him a bit player. The 24-year-old accepted the challenge of learning a new position, right wing, and earned a lineup spot as a forward.
Having appeared in nearly every game since, White has proven to be reliable both on defense and on the wing. Fighting for his spot has been standard for White, who was a sixth-round draft pick in 2002 and largely unknown when he surprisingly made the Leafs roster at training camp in 2006.