NEW YORK - Left wing Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets, goaltender Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders and center Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks are the three finalists for the 2018-19 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey," the National Hockey League announced today.
The local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season and the top three vote-getters were designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 19, during the 2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Following are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets
Foligno helped Columbus earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive year by tallying 17-18-35 in 73 games, while simultaneously attending to health issues affecting two of his three young children. The Blue Jackets captain, 31, is skating in his seventh season with Columbus and ranks third on the club's all-time goals (125) and assists (162) lists. "I feel like we've become a stronger family and that's how I'm always going to look at it. I think it's made me a better person, a better player and a better leader, hopefully, for this team," Foligno told the Columbus Dispatch. "I'm going to take it all in stride, but my family is my most important thing in my life and (the Blue Jackets are) my second family."
Robin Lehner, New York Islanders
Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV%, 6 SO) and teammate Thomas Greiss won the 2018-19 William M. Jennings Trophy as the goaltenders on the team allowing the fewest regular-season goals, helping the Islanders post their highest regular-season points total (103) since 1983-84. His best NHL season on the ice came on the heels of revealing addiction and mental health issues in a self-penned article for The Athletic during training camp. "I am not sharing this story to make people think differently of Robin Lehner as a professional goalie. I want to help make a difference and help others the way I have been helped," Lehner wrote. "I want people to know that there is hope in desperation, there is healing in facing an ugly past and there is no shame in involving others in your battle."
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Thornton, 39, overcame major injuries from the prior two seasons, suffering a torn ACL and MCL in both his left knee (2017) and right knee (2018). His rehabilitation work, detailed in the San Jose Mercury News, served as an inspiration to his teammates and coaches. The leader among active NHL players in career assists and points (413-1,065-1,478 in 1,566 GP), Thornton concluded his 21st NHL campaign with 16-35-51 in 73 games, helping the Sharks qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons. Thornton scored his 400th career goal on Nov. 13 and passed a pair of NHL legends on April 4, leapfrogging Nicklas Lidstrom (1,564) into 12th place on the all-time games list and Steve Yzerman (1,063) into eighth place on the all-time assists list.
Bill Masterton Memorial Scholarship Fund
A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.
The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers' Association in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey and who died on Jan. 15, 1968.
The three finalists for NHL Trophies are being announced by NBC Sports in the United States and Sportsnet/TVA Sports in Canada during pregame programming for the Stanley Cup Playoffs through Sunday, April 28. The series of announcements continues on Saturday, April 20, when the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy will be unveiled.
2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone
The NHL Awards™ returns to Las Vegas this summer at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The 2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone will be held Wednesday, June 19, at Mandalay Bay Events Center. It marks the first year that the NHL Awards™ will be held at the resort's sports and entertainment venue as well as the first time that Bridgestone will serve as the presenting sponsor of the event. NBCSN and Sportsnet will broadcast the 2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone live in the United States and Canada, respectively, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
Tickets to the 2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone are on sale to the general public at www.nhl.com/awardstickets. This ticket opportunity is available on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last.
This will be the 11th year of a successful partnership between Las Vegas and the League and the 10th time that the NHL will honor the best hockey players in the world and the top performances of the season in Las Vegas. Prior Las Vegas venues that have hosted the NHL Awards™ include Palms Hotel (2009-11); Encore at Wynn Las Vegas (2012 and 2014); MGM Grand Garden Arena (2015); The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (2016 and 2018); and T Mobile Arena (2017).
A full lineup of presenters and entertainment will be announced at a future date. Fans can tweet about the event using the official hashtag #NHLAwards