John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
For those of you whose bedtimes were slightly before the tape-delayed broadcast of the National Hockey League Award Show, you missed Cam Neely's introduction of Phil Kessel.
Neely, as you might imagine, took the podium to a big round of applause.
Cam: "The Masterton Trophy is presented to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Last December, at the age of 19, tonight's recipient was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Faced with a prognosis that would terrify even the grittiest veteran, this young man dealt with his situation with the poise of someone twice his age. He fought through intense treatment to return to the ice, missing only 12 games on his road to recovery. He followed up that astonishing feat just two weeks later in Dallas when he scored a hat trick in the Young Stars Game. During this past season this incredible rookie proved with determination and awe-inspiring will power that it's not only possible to overcome this disease, but that it is also possible to achieve new levels of success. So on behalf of myself, and all the Bruins fans out there, it is my honor to present the Masterton Trophy to Phil Kessel."
Amid tremendous applause, Phil walked up to the stage and shook hands with a smiling Neely, who looked very proud of his fellow Bruin as he stepped aside to allow Kessel to speak.
Phil: "I would like to thank the Professional Hockey Writers Association for honoring me with the Bill Masterton Award. As I look back over the last year, it was an amazing year -- Being drafted by Boston, having the opportunity to play professional hockey. But I learned how quickly life can change. At 19-years old, I did not expect to hear the words 'You have cancer.' Cancer affects many lives, but I think we all know what tremendous strides have been made through research and how curable cancer is. I am lucky to be part of the hockey family and I want to thank the Boston Bruins organization for all their support and for the quick action of the doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital. To my Boston teammates -- I am very grateful to have you as my teammates. You guys were always there for me and supported me through everything. I look forward to playing here for many years. I also want to thank all the other NHL players and fans for their words of encouragement. Thanks to my agent Wade Arnott for his help in tough times. To the Boston fans, thank you for standing by me and the team this year during our tough times. And last, but not least, I want to thank my parents for all they have done for me. Thank you."
Kessel left the stage to yet another round of applause.