San Jose, Calif - The San Jose chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association announced today that San Jose Sharks forward Jed Ortmeyer has been selected as its 2010 nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton Trophy is awarded each season under the trusteeship of the PHWA to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Ortmeyer not only has to work hard each shift to ensure he has a place in the NHL, but he also battles a challenging health condition that requires daily attention. At some point each day, Ortmeyer must use a needle to inject a blood thinner directly into his stomach to combat a hereditary blood-clotting disorder that has threatened not only his hockey career but also his life.
"It's more important to get the info out there to help people know more about my situation," Ortmeyer said. "Hopefully, someone else in a similar situation will have the information to help them determine if they can play."
The process is tricky and the timing must be precise. The blood thinner, Lovenox, needs to be in his system during the down time when he's not on the ice and it needs to be out of his system when he plays or practices so that a hard check or a high stick does not cause fatal bleeding.
Ortmeyer first experienced clotting problems in 2001 following knee surgery and has nearly walked away from the game twice, most recently in 2008 when he played for the Nashville Predators.
"There have been a couple of times that I thought to myself and talked to my family about not playing again and about whether the risk outwiegh the reward," the forward said. "After rehab, resting andbeing away from the game, I had the itch and wanted to get back to play."
Originally signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers in 2003, following an outstanding career at the University of Michigan, Ortmeyer has posted 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 305 NHL games, along with 145 penalty minutes with the Rangers, Nashville and San Jose.
This season, his first in San Jose, Ortmeyer has set career-highs in goals, assists and points (eight goals, 11 assists for 19 points). An important cog in the team’s NHL top-five penalty killing unit (85.0%, he is fifth among all San Jose forwards in average short-handed ice time per game.
"Corny as it is and clichéd as it is, I enjoy playing hockey, and they always say you never know when your last shift is going to be," Ortmeyer said. "I wanted to go out on my terms and not be forced out by some medical issue."
The Masterton Trophy winner is selected from a poll of the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season and a $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the winner.
The PHWA first presented the Masterton Trophy in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited to a high degree, the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died Jan. 15, 1968 following an injury suffered in a game.
Former Shark Tony Granato received the award in 1997.