The Bill Masterton Memorial trophy is not one of the NHL’s most coveted awards. It’s not nearly as important or meaningful as the Hart or the Norris trophies. I’d be willing to bet that a majority of fans inside NHL arenas don’t even know it exists. The Masterton trophy is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. Each team nominates one of its own players for this award and it is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The award is named after former Minnesota North Stars player Bill Masterton, who died in 1968 from a head injury he suffered during a game.
There has been a long list of players who have overcame giant obstacles to play in the NHL and have won this award. Bobby Clarke won for playing the game while dealing with diabetes. Ken Daneyko won for overcoming his battle with alcoholism. Bryan Berard won, when he was with the Blackhawks, for overcoming an injury that left him legally blind in one eye. There are some very good nominees for this season’s award. Ray Emery is the Blackhawks nominee for playing at a high level while dealing with avascular necrosis. Jonas Hiller is the Anaheim Duck’s nominee who has had to overcome vertigo that kept him out of the 2011 playoffs.
This leads me to the Pittsburgh Penguins. You would think that Sidney Crosby would be a no brainer for this award. Everyone knows about his struggles with concussions and the amount of time it has kept him out of the game. But the Penguins didn’t go that route, they decided to nominate Matt Cooke instead. What exactly has Cooke had to persevere against besides being a raging penis? This is a player who has been suspended 4 times for hits to head. That doesn’t include the hit that has essentially ended the career of Boston’s Marc Savard, which he didn’t get suspended for. Matt Cooke is the reason Brendan Shanahan has his job. This is the guy you want to honor the memory of a player who died from a head injury??? I think the Pens are missing the point. You shouldn’t honor a guy for being not a douchebag for the first time in his career. Playing with a disease or being blind in one eye is worth honoring, finally playing the game within the rules is not.