The South Florida chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association has selected C Joe Nieuwendyk as the Florida Panthers nomination 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.
Despite missing 15 games with a back injury earlier this season, Nieuwendyk places second of the Panthers with 55 points (26-29-55) in 64 games played. The 19-year NHL veteran also places first on the team and ranks second in the National Hockey League with a 59.4 face-off percentage. In addition, he places second on the club with seven power play tallies and is tied for third on the team with three game-winning goals.
The Oshawa, Ontario native recorded his 1,100th career point on Mar. 20 with an assist in the Cats 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. With his game-winning goal against the Ottawa Senators on Apr. 13, he recorded his 559th goal of his career moving him past Johnny Bucyk into 20th all-time and one shy of tying Guy Lafleur for 19th among NHL's all-time goal scoring leaders. He also recorded his first Panthers hat trick in his return to Toronto on Apr. 11
Former Masterton winners on the Panthers include G Jamie McLennan and LW Gary Roberts. McLennan won the trophy in 1998 while playing for the St. Louis Blues after returning from a bout with bacterial meningitis. Roberts took home the honor in 1996 with the Calgary Flames after returning from a neck injury.
The winner of the Masterton Trophy is selected by a poll among the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. The 2003-04 recipient was defenseman Bryan Berard of the Chicago Blackhawks. NHL writers first presented the trophy in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, who played for the Minnesota North Stars and exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on January 15, 1968, as the result of head injuries suffered during a game.