COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, the club announced today. The award is given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
A year after missing 48 games due to a knee injury, Leclaire has been one of the National Hockey League’s top goaltenders during the 2007-08 season. He has compiled a 24-15-6 record with a 2.17 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and a franchise-record nine shutouts in 51 games. He is currently tied for the league lead in shutouts and ranks fifth in goals-against average (tied) and save percentage. The 51 games represent the most he has played in any season during his career at the NHL, American Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League levels.
In 2006-07, Leclaire missed 20 games due to a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in December. He returned to action in February, but re-injured the knee in his third game back in the lineup and missed the remainder of the season. In 2004-05, he suffered an abdominal injury while playing for the Syracuse Crunch, Columbus’ AHL affiliate, and missed the final four months of the season.
The winner of the Masterton Trophy is selected by a poll of the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the conclusion of the regular season. The trophy was first presented by the NHL writers in 1968 in honor of the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited the qualities for which the trophy embodies, and who died on Jan. 15, 1968. Last year’s winner was Boston’s Phil Kessel. Previous Blue Jackets nominees for the award include: Kevin Dineen (2000-01 and 2001-02, finalist both years), Luke Richardson (2002-03), Manny Malhotra (2003-04), Duvie Westcott (2005-06) and Fredrik Norrena (2006-07).