The Professional Hockey Wrirters Association's Chicago chapter has named Blackhawks forward Colin Blackwell their nominee for the 2024 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.

A player from each team is nominated by its local PHWA chapter, after which the PHWA writers will vote for three finalists. The season's winner of the award is customarily revealed during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Masterton is the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of an on-ice injury.

Blackwell returned to Chicago's lineup on Dec. 19 after a nearly 10-month injury absence following sports hernia surgery and a road to recovery that was riddled with setbacks and frustrations.

Blackwell on Injury, Masterton

"That means a lot," Blackwell said after practice on Friday to many of the very reporters who nominated him. "Obviously, it's been a little bit of a rough stretch since I've come here. Last year, a down here for me, and then some injuries that kind of led into this year. So definitely to kind of get the recognition from you guys that have kind of seen me since I've come in and maybe seen some of the things that I've been working on to kind of get back and try to make an impact, that's something that's definitely special to me, and I appreciate that a lot. Just goes to show some stuff, maybe it doesn't go unnoticed, and I appreciate the support from you guys. So thank you very much."

Injured in Chicago’s game in Anaheim on Feb. 27 of last season, Blackwell underwent surgery on March 22 with an estimated return to hockey activities projected just 12 weeks later. He suffered several offseason setbacks, including one last delay right before training camp opened in September, and wasn’t able to return to skating until late October -- days after he shared he was able to do a simple task like walk his dog around the block for the first time without pain.

“It's been a long, long road and not many ups but a lot of downs,” an emotional Blackwell told earlier this season when he first returned to the ice.

In 39 games since his return, Blackwell has played a major role for the Blackhawks, contributing eight goals and four assists while averaging a career-best 14:43 of ice time per game. The forward scored his first NHL hat trick on March 10 in a comeback win over the Arizona Coyotes, one of two multi-goal outings this season sparking Blackhawks victories (Jan. 7 vs. CGY).

Blackwell suffered an upper body injury on March 19 in LA, unrelated to his ailment from a year ago, and has been out of the lineup in the seven games since while recovering, but the forward is expected to return soon.

2024 Masterton Trophy Nominees

  • Anaheim Ducks: Urho Vaakanainen
  • Arizona Coyotes: Connor Ingram
  • Boston Bruins: Danton Heinen
  • Buffalo Sabres: Ukko-Pekka Luukonen
  • Calgary Flames: Oliver Kylington
  • Carolina Hurricanes: Frederik Andersen
  • Chicago Blackhawks: Colin Blackwell
  • Colorado Avalanche: Jonathan Drouin
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: Zach Werenski
  • Dallas Stars: Matt Duchene
  • Detroit Red Wings: Alex Lyon
  • Edmonton Oilers: Vincent Desharnais
  • Florida Panthers: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
  • Los Angeles Kings: Viktor Arvidsson
  • Minnesota Wild: Marco Rossi
  • Montreal Canadiens: Joel Armia
  • Nashville Predators: Michael McCarron
  • New Jersey Devils: Curtis Lazar
  • New York Islanders: Cal Clutterbuck
  • New York Rangers: Jonathan Quick
  • Ottawa Senators: Claude Giroux
  • Philadelphia Flyers: Sean Couturier
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby
  • San Jose Sharks: Justin Bailey
  • Seattle Kraken: Joey Daccord
  • St. Louis Blues: Nathan Walker
  • Tampa Bay Lightning: Mikey Eyssimont
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: Ilya Samsonov
  • Vancouver Canucks: Noah Juulsen
  • Vegas Golden Knights: Alex Pietrangelo
  • Washington Capitals: T.J. Oshie
  • Winnipeg Jets: Laurent Brossoit