Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, Toronto left wing Jason Blake and Edmonton right wing Fernando Pisani are the finalists for the 2008 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given annually by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.
The award, under the trusteeship of the PHWA, is presented annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Chelios completed his 24th NHL regular-season and ninth with the Red Wings in 2007-08. The three-time Norris Trophy-winner (1989, ’93 and ’96) and 11-time All-Star Game participant has appeared in 1,616 regular-season games, sixth on the all-time list. In January, the 46-year-old Chicago native became the second-oldest player in NHL history, trailing only Gordie Howe.
In October, Blake was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare but treatable form of cancer. Nonetheless, the Hibbing, Minn. native completed the season as one of only three players to appear in all 82 Maple Leafs games. Blake hosted a leukemia awareness night at Air Canada Centre in January and donated $1,000 per goal and $500 per assist during the month to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Pisani missed the first 26 games of the regular season due to ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammation of the large intestine. The Edmonton native suffered abdominal pain and weight loss and was forced to miss training camp and the first 26 games of the regular season. He made an inspirational return to the Oilers' lineup Dec. 2 in a 4-0 victory at Anaheim and played all of Edmonton’s remaining games.
The Masterton Trophy winner will be announced Thursday, June 12 during the 2008 NHL Awards Television Special, which will be broadcast live throughout Canada on CBC and the United States on VERSUS from the historic Elgin Theatre in Toronto. The PHWA will make a donation to the Masterton Scholarship Fund in honor of the winner.
The trophy was presented to the NHL by the PHWA in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton of the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died January 15, 1968.