Brian Boyle (New Jersey Devils), Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers) and Jordan Staal (Carolina Hurricanes) were named Saturday as the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
The winner will be announced during the 2018 NHL Awards presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in June 20.
Boyle, a 33-year-old forward, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone marrow cancer, during training camp. He worked his way back into the New Jersey lineup by Nov. 1 and scored 10 goals in his first 25 games, including one on the Devils' Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Prudential Center, a 3-2 win over Vancouver on Nov. 24. Boyle missed three games after his season debut and represented the Devils at the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
Luongo, 39, overcame hand and groin injuries to power the Panthers' late playoff push. Florida's all-time leader in wins, shutouts and appearances by a goaltender missed more than two months before returning on Feb. 17 to help the Panthers defeat Calgary 6-3. In a 13-game span, Luongo went 9-3-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. On Feb. 22, Luongo delivered a heartfelt, unscripted speech to the crowd at BB&T Center prior to Florida's game against the Washington Capitals. The 12-year resident of nearby Parkland, Florida, addressed the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting during the Panthers' pregame ceremony to honor the victims.
Staal, a 29-year-old center, showed great strength amid a family tragedy. In late February, Staal and his wife, Heather, announced their daughter, Hannah, was delivered stillborn due to a terminal birth defect previously diagnosed by doctors. Staal, who had assumed a bigger leadership role with the Hurricanes by being named co-captain before the season, missed three games following the tragedy. He finished the season with 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) in 79 games, the second-highest goal and point totals in his six seasons with Carolina.