Jose Theodore’s comeback from losing his starting job at the end of last season is a tale of will and determination.
Factor in what he has had to go through away from the ice and Theodore’s story is quite remarkable. His ability to deal with unthinkable adversity is one reason why the veteran goaltender has been nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
“We know what his situation is and not only has he handled it well but he has excelled in net,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think it is a great choice, and you couldn’t find a better winner.”
Theodore began this season with the death of his infant son still weighing heavily on his mind. That he has been able to craft one of the best seasons of his career given the circumstances is incredible, but he’s also been great in the dressing room with his teammates, dealing with the media and staying connected to the fans.
“I think it was tough for him at the start, but I think coming to the rink was an escape for him to try and forget about things, but that’s easier said than done,” Matt Bradley said. “I don’t know if I could have done as good of a job as he’s done. It shows what kind of a person he is to be able to stay focused and do his job.”
Added Brendan Morrison: “He’s been very engaging, and he hasn’t distanced himself at all. He’s been the consummate teammate. Nobody would begrudge him if he were distant because everyone knows his situation, but he, somehow, has been able to keep his personal life from negatively affecting his job. I have a lot of admiration and respect for him.”
The Capitals will be counting on Theodore once the postseason begins this week, and he hopes for a better experience than last season. Theodore lost his starting role to Semyon Varlamov after one game against the N.Y. Rangers last spring, but he’s 20-0-3 for Washington since Jan. 12 and enters the playoffs playing some of the best hockey of his career.
“I had a child this year, and I understand how special that is,” Bradley said. “For him to deal with it the way he did is unbelievable. I’m sure it is still tough for him, but he’s preserved and played great for us.”