There was plenty of good news in the Sharks locker room on Monday. Of course, players were excited about advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals. But to a man, everyone was genuinely excited for Jed Ortmeyer, who was named as one of three finalists for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
“Jed’s gone through a lot and it’s a great thing for him,” Scott Nichol said. “It’s a huge honor.”
“His dedication to the game is unbelievable,” Patrick Marleau
said. “He gives himself a needle in the stomach after every game. It shows how bad he really wants to play. He puts his body on the line and he’s diving, blocking shots and killing penalties. He plays hard.”
Ortmeyer was caught off guard with the news.
“I just heard this morning when Coach (Todd McLellan) pulled me aside,” Ortmeyer said. “I’m honored to be nominated with the others.”
Besides Ortmeyer, Tampa Bay’s Kurtis Foster and Jose Theodore of Washington were chosen as finalists.
The key purpose of the award is to acknowledge players who demonstrate dedication and perseverance to the game of hockey. And though not mentioned as a pre-requisite for receiving the Masterton, many past winners have come back from a difficult injury or illness.
Ortmeyer would qualify under any of the above scenarios, but there’s no question the blood disorder he deals with truly makes things unusual for him. In addition to his blood clot disorder, the Nebraska native also had to deal with a major knee procedure in 2007-08 that contributed to him spending much of 2008-09 in the American Hockey League.
Nichol was Ortmeyer’s teammate in Nashville and saw Ortmeyer deal with his challenges.
“I played with him in Nashville when he had the clots and the ACL surgery,” Nichol said. “He battled the whole year with the blood clots. It was a tough year on him.”
Ortmeyer, who has missed the last few playoff games with an unspecified injury, has been a reminder for those around him of how good they have it. That he’s survived what he’s gone through to this point is amazing to those who know him.
“It sure would’ve been easy for him to pack it in when he was in the minors,” Nichol said. “When he was in the minors, he had to pay a lot of money because the insurance didn’t cover everything. He’s a huge part of this team and I’m glad to see him do well.”
For Ortmeyer, his daily routine to deal with his blood clots is simply a part of his regular schedule and not a big deal
“It’s just my routine now,” Ortmeyer said. “Some days the needle hurts more than others. It’s part of my life.”
The proper medication has made things fairly smooth for Ortmeyer, but he still checks visits a doctor once a month for preventative reasons.
“I haven’t had any problems this season with it,” Ortmeyer said.
And that reflected in his play as he set career highs in goals (eight), assists (11) and points (19).