TORONTO/NEW YORK (April 6, 2009) – The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association today revealed the names of the nominees for the 2009 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy from the five Pacific Division clubs – Anaheim’s George Parros, Dallas’ Stephane Robidas, Los Angeles’ Michal Handzus, Phoenix’ Zbynek Michalek and San Jose’s Claude Lemieux.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." The award was presented by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to honor the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited those qualities. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice injury.
The Masterton Trophy will be awarded at the 2009 NHL Awards broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on June 18, 2009. Airing on CBC in Canada and VERSUS in the United States, the 2009 NHL Awards will bring together the League's best players, celebrities and other NHL VIPs in celebration of the season's brightest stars.
The following players have been nominated by the PHWA membership to represent their teams from the Pacific Division:
ANAHEIM: Forward George Parros
Perhaps the league’s most sportsmanlike tough guy, Princeton alumnus George Parros in his fourth NHL season and has cemented his reputation as a force in the community as well as on the ice. Each year Parros shears his shoulder-length hair, donates it to children’s charities and inspires others to do the same. The sale of Parros-style fake moustaches through the Ducks' team store also benefit charity organizations. Though Parros is the Ducks’ leader -- and among the league leaders -- in fighting majors, he is a meticulous follower of the “code” of engagement. He has been assessed no misconduct penalties, no game misconducts and no instigator penalties this season.
DALLAS: Defenseman Stephane Robidas
Stephane Robidas embodies the characteristics required to win the Masterton Trophy. The Stars twice have picked him up when other teams have given up on him, and he has surprised each time. Robidas was placed on waivers by Montreal in 2002 and succeeded in a short stint in Dallas before the Stars traded him to Chicago. After the Blackhawks failed to tender Robidas a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent in 2005, the Stars signed him and placed him into the lineup as a regular. This season, with Sergei Zubov lost for the year with a hip injury, Robidas has stepped up and played the role of No. 1 defenseman. He leads the Stars in time on ice (24:32), hits (221) and ranked second in blocked shots (109) and plus/minus (plus-10). He also was selected to play in his first NHL All-Star Game.
LOS ANGELES: Forward Michal Handzus
Veteran center Michal Handzus has been a leader on a young team and finally has shaken the effects of knee surgery to become a vital player for the Kings. That's especially true on the power play, where he has used his size and skills around the net to become an effective and valuable force. Handzus plays hard every game and has set an excellent example for his younger teammates of how to persevere through tough times. He had only seven goals and 21 points last season but is well past that this season, collecting 39 points through 78 games.
PHOENIX: Defenseman Zbynek Michalek
Zbynek Michalek’s perseverance and dedication to the game are reflected nightly in his willingness to put his body on the line for his team – he leads the NHL with 262 blocked shots, pretty much setting the defensive tone for the Coyotes. Coach Wayne Gretzky and his teammates constantly praise Michalek’s work ethic and willingness to sacrifice his body. For his part, the 26-year-old defenseman just smiles and says he’s simply doing his job.
SAN JOSE: Forward Claude Lemieux
Claude Lemieux made a successful comeback to pro hockey after five years away from the game during which most everyone assumed he had retired. The 43-year-old, four-time Stanley Cup-winner never lost the desire to play, worked hard to return to the NHL and was willing to follow a path back never before taken: He began his comeback by playing a handful of games in China. Dedicated enough to slowly climb the ladder, the 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy-winner signed a minor-league tryout contract early this season with San Jose affiliate Worcester of the AHL. He then signed a two-way contract with the Sharks in February and appeared in 16 games before injuring his jaw. It's assumed Lemieux will be part of the San Jose postseason run when he returns to health.