The Toronto chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has chosen left winger Jason Blake as its nominee for the 2008 Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded for ‘perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey’.
Blake’s teammates and family were shocked after just a few weeks with his new team when he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare, but treatable form of cancer. But the Hibbing, Minnesota native was good on his word not to let the serious ailment take him out of the lineup.
As of March 7, Blake was one of only three Toronto players not to have missed a game in 2007-08. Already one of the smaller players in the NHL, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Blake has not altered his style against bigger men, while maintaining last year’s ice time of almost 18 minutes a game. He has 43 points in 69 games and ranks fourth in NHL shots.
Blake, who takes a daily pill called Gleevec for his condition, also hosted a leukemia awareness night at the Air Canada Canada Centre in January and donated $1,000 a goal and $500 an assist through January to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Recent Masterton nominees from Toronto include Carlo Colaiacovo, Steve Thomas, Ed Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk. Last year’s Masterton winner was Phil Kessel
of the Boston Bruins.
Each NHL city’s PWHA chapter nominates a Masterton candidate and the winner is chosen from a vote of the entire PHWA at the end of the season. The Masterton is part of the league’s televised awards ceremony in early June.