The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association today revealed the names of the nominees for the 2009 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy from the five Central Division clubs – Martin Havlat of the Chicago Blackhawks, Raffi Torres of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Sullivan of the Nashville Predators and B.J. Crombeen of the St. Louis Blues.
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 Central Division:
CHICAGO: Forward Martin Havlat
Veteran winger Martin Havlat has rebounded from a shoulder injury that limited him to 35 games last season to play in all but one of the Blackhawks' games this season while developing into an all-around player whose defensive work now rivals his natural offensive ability. Havlat leads the team in scoring with 26 goals and 43 assists. An offensive-minded player throughout his career, he this season has flourished on the Hawks' top checking line with strong play at both ends of the ice – as evidenced by his plus-23 rating. In addition, Havlat has been a steadying influence in the dressing room of the NHL's youngest team.
COLUMBUS: Forward Raffi Torres
Having spent the last year and a half battling through myriad injuries that threatened to derail his NHL career, Raffi Torres has drawn upon the resilience that was developed at an early age – fighting off the skeptical and small-minded who ridiculed his modest background and ethnicity (he’s the first NHL player of both Mexican and Peruvian descent). When Columbus acquired Torres from Edmonton last summer, he still was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery in December of 2007. In his first game back, a preseason match, he separated his shoulder. He returned ahead of schedule but with his knee acting up. Finally, following arthroscopic surgery, he is back on top of his game, leading the Blue Jackets with six game-winning goals in 46 games.
DETROIT: Defenseman Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios’ dedication to the game has extended his career to a length attained by few in hockey history. His 1,640 games played rank fourth in League history – he, Gordie Howe and Mark Messier are the only men to have played in 25 NHL seasons. At 47, he’s the oldest player in the NHL. And his experience and will to win have enabled him to remain a vital contributor even as his ice time has diminished on a star-studded Detroit team. Said Red Wings winger Henrik Zetterberg: “He’s huge for us. It’s great for us having him around in the locker room and still when he plays, he plays a good game. I’m pretty certain if you put him on any other team he would play almost all the games.”
NASHVILLE: Forward Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan's perseverance was measured in months, not weeks or days. He missed almost two full years – 687 days, to be precise – following a back injury suffered in Febrary of 2007. Sullivan underwent two back surgeries in attempts to repair a fragmented disc and tried myriad different cures. But it wasn’t until he began an intensive workout regimen with strength and conditioning coach Dave Good that Sullivan finally began to heal. When Sullivan returned to the Nashville lineup on Jan. 10, he became just the third player since World War II to play 150 games with a team, then miss at least 600 consecutive days before returning to the same team. The other two were Mario Lemieux and Jim Peplinski.
ST. LOUIS: Forward B.J. Crombeen
B.J. Crombeen is one of only a handful of players in the NHL who have diabetes. While his Blues teammates are working on their sticks or skates between periods, Crombeen is adjusting his blood-sugar level, often giving himself an insulin shot to assure he has enough energy when he returns to the ice. A 23-year-old rookie, Crombeen had one goal before being claimed off waivers from Dallas this season. In 61 games with the Blues, he has scored nine goals, including a hat-trick. Crombeen brings toughness -- engaging in 12 fights in his 61 games with the Blues -- and he's a member of the checking-line that has been instrumental in the club's success this season.