The Buffalo chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Buffalo Sabres center Paul Gaustad as its nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Gaustad’s off-ice work and on-ice work ethic make him a worthy candidate for the award. He is the front man for the Sabres’ children’s literacy program, and he also spearheads the Sabres’ “Green Team.” It’s a high-profile effort in which Gaustad encourages fans to recycle and conserve energy – something he never does on the ice.
Gaustad, a seventh-round pick in 2000, was continually deemed too slow in juniors and the minors. But constant work and extra skating sessions allowed the center to get his foot in the door. Once he did, he banged it down. The hard-hitting 26-year-old is in a fan favorite in his third full season.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was first presented in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton. The Minnesota North Stars player, who exhibited high degrees of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, died Jan. 15, 1968, after injuries suffered during a hockey game.
The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of the season, and a grant from the PHWA is awarded to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund in the name of the winner.
Former Sabres to win the trophy were Don Luce in 1975 and Pat LaFontaine in 1995. Last year’s winner was Boston’s Phil Kessel.