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 Southeast Division:
ATLANTA: Forward Slava Kozlov
Slava Kozlov's entire 17-season NHL career -- which began after a car accident that fractured his skull, broke his cheek and killed his passenger -- has been a study in perseverance. Last season, despite playing with shoulder and knee injuries that nearly halved his point production from 2006-07 and required season-following surgeries, Kozlov never missed a game and never let on that he was hurt. Now, every time he takes the ice he sets a franchise record for consecutive games played -- a streak that could top 200 by season's end. He also is back to being a productive player, having eclipsed 20 goals for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons while ranking among the best shootout performers in the League.
CAROLINA: Forward Rod Brind'Amour
Though injuries have made this one of the most trying seasons of Rod Brind'Amour's career, the two-time Selke Trophy winner remains one of the NHL's best faceoff men and has persevered to help the Hurricanes fight their way into the playoff hunt. Earlier this season, he became the fourth player to play in 600 games for two different teams. After missing the final two months of last season with a severe knee injury, Brind'Amour's preparations for this season were set back by additional knee surgery just before training camp. Yet he was in the lineup for Carolina's final preseason game 20 days later and has missed only two games this season.
FLORIDA: Forward Richard Zednik
Just over a year ago, the carotid artery in his neck having been sliced by a teammate's skate blade, Richard Zednik left pools of his blood on the ice as he skated to the bench in one of the most dramatic moments of the 2007-08 season. Zednik lost five pints of blood and required life-saving emergency surgery at a Buffalo hospital. Though the injury left a rose-colored scar that remains as a constant reminder of the episode, Zednik refused to allow his hockey career to be a casualty. He has come back to play 64 games and score 16 goals this season for a young Panthers team that counts upon his experience.
TAMPA BAY: Defenseman Cory Murphy
Undrafted out of Colgate University and initially unable to find an NHL team willing to give an undersized defenseman a contract, Cory Murphy headed to Europe to hone his craft. He spent six seasons in European leagues -- five in the Finnish Elite League. In his last season with Helsinki, Murphy set a Finnish Elite League record for points by a defenseman en route to earning league MVP honors and earning his first NHL contract with Florida. But he missed 30 games of his rookie season because of a shoulder injury from which he never fully recovered. This year, he had trouble cracking the Florida lineup and reinjured the shoulder. He was waived twice this season and spent two weeks in the AHL before being claimed by Tampa Bay on re-entry waivers on Jan. 19. Finally receiving some quality playing time, Murphy looked to be settling in on the Lightning blue line with five goals and 15 points while quarterbacking the Lightning power play only to break a bone in his foot when struck by a teammate's shot in mid-March.
WASHINGTON: Defenseman Brian Pothier
Brian Pothier has exhibited impressive perseverance and dedication to the sport in his return from more than a year off because of post-concussion syndrome and a serious vision problem. Pothier suffered his fourth documented concussion against Boston on Jan. 3, 2008, and sat out the next 14 months before recently returning to the Caps. Upon finally recovering from post-concussion syndrome, his return was delayed because a nerve that connects his brain to his eye had failed, causing his brain to re-route the information in such a way that he was unable to normally process what he was seeing. Visits to several specialists finally resulted in a therapy plan that resulted in his vision correcting and a return to the ice and a regular spot in the Washington lineup.