Of all the hardware handed out by the NHL, the Bill Masterton
Memorial Trophy is the only one that features 30 outstanding nominees.
2012 MASTERTON TROPHY NOMINEES
The Masterton is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. How those qualities are judged, however, is up to each individual voter.
Each of the 30 chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominates a player, and then all members vote on the winner. And like most years, picking a deserving candidate is not easy.
There are players like Colorado's Peter Mueller
and Florida's Tomas Fleischmann
, who persevered through potential career-threatening injuries to remain in the League.
Mueller was forced to miss the entire 2010-11 season and after returning at the start of this season, another concussion put him out for three months. But since he returned in January, he has 6 goals and 8 assists in 25 games.
Fleischmann missed the second half of last season while suffering from blood clots in his lungs that could have proven fatal. However, he's healthy now and has played a major role in the Panthers' climb to a playoff berth.
Montreal's Max Pacioretty
also has thrived after a nasty injury. The Canadiens forward broke a vertebrae in his neck last March, but has recovered so completely he's posted his first 30-goal season.
And then there are veterans who have persevered to continue playing at an advanced age. Like Philadelphia's Jaromir Jagr
, who returned to the NHL at age 39 after three seasons in the KHL to play a top-line role for the Flyers. Or the Islanders' Jay Pandolfo
, who spent last season in the AHL, but at age 37 has provided a veteran presence on a young team.
The Blues' Brian Elliott
went from a two-way contract and no assurances of an NHL job to an All-Star. Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke
went from the most maligned player in the NHL to a key third-line presence who has a career-best 19 goals while racking up just 36 penalty minutes -- 18 minor penalties.
Those are just some of the nominees for this year's award. All the players up for the honor would make worthy winners.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK