(April 1, 2004) -- The Toronto chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has chosen centre Joe Nieuwendyk as its nominee for the 2004 Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded for 'perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey'.
At age 37, the three-time Stanley Cup winner returned from injury in the spring of 2003 to play a key role on and off the ice for this year's Maple Leafs. He is often cited by players, coaches, team management and media as a reason the Leafs are approaching a record season for points. Most recently, he's had a role in helping linemates Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky have improved seasons and he is one goal shy of reaching the 20-goal plateau for the fourteenth time in his career.
Nieuwendyk has 47 points in 62 games and continues to be one of the National Hockey League's top faceoff men, as well as a respected player around the league.
Recent Masterton nominees from Toronto include Ed Belfour, Mikael Renberg, Steve Thomas and Yanic Perreault, while Gary Roberts won the award as a Carolina Hurricane in 1996. Last year's Masterton winner was Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.
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 ceremonies in early June.