Predators forward Steve Sullivan won the Masterton Trophy at the 2009 NHL Awards Show this evening in Las Vegas. NashvillePredators.com caught up with Sullivan after the show to get his thoughts on the Award and his season.
: Congrats on the Award! How does it feel to win the Masterton Trophy?Steve Sullivan:
It's great. Obviously just being able to return to the game I love was great, but to be rewarded with this tremendous honor was the icing on the cake.NP.com: The definition of the award is "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." What does your situation say about those qualities?SS:
I think that it just shows what can happen when you have persistence and a never-give-up-attitude. That's a lesson that can be learned in all parts of life. So hopefully there are some Predators fans or hockey fans or Steve Sullivan fans who can get some inspiration from this and carry it into making their goals and dreams come true.NP.com: It took you almost two years to return from the injury. That's a long layoff in the middle of a pro athlete's career. Was there every any time during that duration that you started to second guess whether you would be able to make it back to the NHL level?SS:
I don't think so. I think that I always kept a glimmer of hope that I would be able to come back. And I had such a strong supporting cast; my wife and kids, friends and family. They were so supportive and that really helped me along the way. I always thought there was a chance I could come back.NP.com: Was there a defining moment when you felt like you were fully back?SS:
I'd have to say when I scored my first goal. Prior to that I was starting to play better, getting some chances, but once I got that first goal it was like, “There it is; we're on our way.” And from that moment on I started to really take steps forward. Before then I was taking baby steps in the right direction, but after that I started taking bigger strides, including more confidence in myself and making plays that I used to do. After that goal I was confident that there weren't any limitations, that there weren't going to be any more set-backs, so I could just go out and do it.NP.com: In your second game you were able to get on the scoresheet with an assist at Toronto. How much did that point help you with your confidence and help set the stage for the rest of your season? SS:
It's a team game, but as an offensive player it's always good to see some positive results. I'm asked to play a more offensive role, so to be able to put numbers on the scoresheet helped me to feel like I was contributing. That's kind of what my job was; to help jump start the offense. I was feeling like I was playing better every day in practice and was able to do more. I found myself trying different things, my passes were getting crisper. The little things in my game were getting better, so I could see it coming. But getting on the scoresheet definitely helped kind of validate that.NP.com: How close to 100% were you last year? SS:
You know what, I don't have any limitations. I think the long layoff kept me young in some other aspects of the game; less ware and tare on my body. I think when I came back I felt great once I got my legs under me. Could I be better, yeah. I think conditioning wise being off for almost two years was hard and took me a little longer than expected to get back into game shape. Even at the end, I probably wasn't in the best game shape as I could be with a whole summer of training. So I'm looking forward to getting a good summer of training in and getting into tip-top shape for next season.NP.com: This week in Las Vegas wasn't all work. Yesterday you participated in a pokerstars celebrity tournament. How did that go?SS:
It was fun. It was a blast. I watch a lot of poker on TV and wondered how it really goes down; having to show your hold cards to the camera. The whole idea was a blast. I had a lot of fun with it. I wish I would have received better cards and I wish Scott Hartnell wasn't the guy who knocked me out. But I guess he went on to win, so.... Besides that I had fun with it and it's definitely an experience that I'm glad I was able to go through.