COLUMBUS, OHIO – Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason has been named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given annually "to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position" as voted by National Hockey League general managers, the League and club announced April 27. The other finalists for the award are Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins (36-11-7, 2.10 goals-against average, .933 save percentage, five shutouts in 54 games) and Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild (37-24-8, 2.33 goals-against average, .923 save percentage, eight shutouts in 71 games).
"There are so many great goaltenders in the NHL, so to be named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy is a real honor for me," said Mason. "I want to thank my coaches for giving me the chance to play and my teammates for the way they played all season. I feel very lucky to play with a great bunch of guys and this wouldn’t have been possible without them."
Mason, 20, went 33-20-7 with a 2.29 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 61 games this season. His 10 shutouts led the NHL, set a franchise record and were the most by a rookie since Chicago's Tony Esposito posted a rookie record 15 in 1969-70. He ranked second in the NHL in goals-against average and 10th in wins. He posted three-straight shutouts on Dec. 27 vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 29 at Los Angeles and Dec. 31 at Anaheim and in the process set a club record for consecutive shutout minutes by a goaltender at 199:19 between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.
Mason was twice named the NHL Rookie of the Month, winning the award in November (5-2-1, 2.09 GAA, .919 SV%, two shutouts in eight games) and December (7-5-0, 1.41 GAA, .950 SV%, three shutouts in 12 games). The last rookie to win the Vezina Trophy was Chicago's Ed Belfour in 1990-91, while NY Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was the most recent rookie named a finalist for the award in 2005-06. Lundqvist finished third in the voting that year, behind Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur.
The Oakville, Ontario native was the Blue Jackets' third pick, 69th overall, in the 2006 Entry Draft. He helped the Blue Jackets to a 41-31-10 record, which was the best in franchise history, and a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time. Columbus was 4-6-2 when Mason was called up from the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch on Nov. 4. He went on to start 61-of-70 games, missing three from Feb. 6-10 due to a bout with mononucleosis, and 27 of the final 28 games of the season. He made a career-high 47 saves on Dec. 17 in a 2-1 OT win vs. San Jose and made 45 saves on Jan. 9 in a 3-0 win at Washington.
Mason, who is also a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie along with Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Chicago's Kris Versteeg, is the first Blue Jackets player to be named a finalist for two awards in the same season. The 2009 NHL Awards will be held at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 18. The event will be televised live in on VERSUS in the United States at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Season tickets for the 2009-10 season are on sale now with prices starting at $18 per game. In addition, 10- and 20-Game packages for 2009-10 are also on sale. For information, call (800) NHL-COLS or visit BlueJackets.com.