Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake has won the 2008 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who ‘best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey’. This is the first time that a player from the Toronto Maple Leafs has been recognized with this trophy. The announcement was made Thursday evening at the NHL Awards in Toronto.
Blake’s family and teammates learned, after just a few weeks with his new team, that he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare, but treatable form of cancer. The Hibbing, Minnesota native was good on his word not to let the serious ailment take him out of the lineup. He was one of only three Toronto players not to have missed a game during the 2007-08 season. Blake did not alter his style against bigger men, while averaging almost 18 minutes of ice time per game. He had 52 points in 82 games and ranked fifth in the NHL with a career-high 332 shots.
Blake, who takes a daily pill called Gleevec for his condition, also hosted a leukemia awareness night at Air Canada Centre in January and donated $1,000 a goal and $500 an assist through January to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Blake was named the 2007-08 winner from a group of 30 nominees, one from each NHL club. A $2,500 grant from the Pro Hockey Writers Association will be awarded to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund in Jason’s name. Last year’s Masterton winner was Phil Kessel
of the Boston Bruins.