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Part One of a three-part series.

Lately, lots of predictions are being made: who will/won't be traded; who will/won't make the playoffs; even who will/won't play in the Olympics two years from now(!?!)

In this space, I'll put forth my nominees for this year's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

The trophy is named in honour of the late Bill Masterton, a Minnesota North Stars player who died on January 15, 1968, after sustaining an injury during a game.

The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association after each team nominates one player.

Previous Winners (note: "reasons for winning" pulled from wikipedia article)

1967-68--Claude Provost--Montreal Canadiens
"Embodied the definition of perseverance and dedication to hockey" throughout his 15 year career.

1968-69--Ted Hampson--Oakland Seals
Had his best statistical year on a recent expansion team.

1969-70--Pit Martin--Chicago Black Hawks
After denouncing his team at the end of the 1968-69 NHL season, Martin and his team came back with a first place, and Martin had 30 goals and 33 assists for 60 points.

1970-71--Jean Ratelle--New York Rangers
A 20-year veteran, he won the trophy for a "lifelong dedication to strong, clean hockey".

1971-72--Bobby Clarke--Philadelphia Flyers
Overcame diabetes to play in the NHL.

1972-73--Lowell MacDonald--Pittsburgh Penguins
Overcame severe ligament and cartilage damage to his knee and scored 34 goals and 41 assists for 75 points during the 1972-73 NHL season.

1973-74--Henri Richard--Montreal Canadiens
This honoured a career with 11 Stanley Cups.

1974-75--Don Luce--Buffalo Sabres
Awarded for perseverance and dedication, after a 38-point increase in scoring from the previous season.

1975-76--Rod Gilbert--New York Rangers
Overcame a serious back injury early during his career.

1976-77--Ed Westfall--New York Islanders
Awarded for being a good leader.

1977-78--Butch Goring--Los Angeles Kings
Made the NHL despite his small overall stature and weight, and had consistently good seasons.

1978-79--Serge Savard--Montreal Canadiens
Awarded for "dedication to hockey", after he won his 8th Stanley Cup in eleven seasons.

1979-80--Al MacAdam--Minnesota North Stars
Rewarded for his perseverance after scoring a career high 42 goals and 51 assists for 93 points.

1980-81--Blake Dunlop--St. Louis Blues
Although he was a star in junior hockey, he only broke out during the 1980-81 NHL season, after being drafted during the 1973-74 NHL season, by scoring 20 goals and 67 assists for 87 points. It was awarded for perseverance.

1981-82--Glenn "Chico" Resch--Colorado Rockies
Awarded for perseverance, as he gave his young team more confidence while he served as goaltender.

1982-83--Lanny McDonald--Calgary Flames
Presented for his dedication; he was traded around the league numerous times, and when he was traded to the Flames, he scored 66 goals and 32 assists for 98 points.

1983-84 --Brad Park--Detroit Red Wings
Awarded for his dedication to hockey.

1984-85--Anders Hedberg--New York Rangers
He was recognized for a dedicated career, and unlike many other winners, for an exceptional season as well.

1985-86--Charlie Simmer--Boston Bruins
Overcame serious ligament damage to his knee to score 60 points.

1986-87--Doug Jarvis--Hartford Whalers
Awarded after he beat Garry Unger's record for consecutive games played, with 914 games.

1987-88--Bob Bourne--Los Angeles Kings
Awarded for exemplifying the qualities of dedication and perseverance.

1988-89--Tim Kerr--Philadelphia Flyers
He returned to score 48 goals and 40 assists for 88 points in 69 games after overcoming severe knee and shoulder injuries, as well as aseptic meningitis the season before.

1989-90--Gord Kluzak--Boston Bruins
Tried to overcome severe knee injuries, but after playing two games after his 10th knee operation, he retired.

1990-91--Dave Taylor--Los Angeles Kings
Played all his 17 seasons with the Kings, and was honored for his dedication.

1991-92--Mark Fitzpatrick--New York Islanders
Ovecame eosinophilia myalgia syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disease, and returned to the NHL.

1992-93--Mario Lemieux--Pittsburgh Penguins
Scored 69 goals and 91 assists for 160 points, despite missing 24 games due to Hodgkin's lymphoma.

1993-94--Cam Neely--Boston Bruins
Awarded "to recognize his valiant efforts to return to NHL action after suffering career-threatening injuries"; however he retired after 1995-96 NHL season due to them.

1994-95--Pat LaFontaine--Buffalo Sabres
Overcame serous head injury.

1995-96--Gary Roberts--Calgary Flames
Successfully recovered from possibly career-ending surgery to correct bone spurs and nerve damage.

1996-97--Tony Granato--San Jose Sharks
Overcame possibly career-ending brain injury sustained during 1995-96 NHL season to score 25 goals during the 1996-97 NHL season.

1997-98--Jamie McLennan--St. Louis Blues
Overcame bacterial meningitis.

1998-99--John Cullen--Tampa Bay Lightning
Overcame non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

1999-00--Ken Daneyko--New Jersey Devils
Overcame alcoholism.

2000-01--Adam Graves--New York Rangers
Awarded for all-around dedication to hockey.

2001-02--Saku Koivu--Montreal Canadiens
Overcame non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

2002-03--Steve Yzerman--Detroit Red Wings
Eventually overcame several health problems, but played only a small part of the 2002-03 NHL season.

2003-04--Bryan Berard--Chicago Blackhawks
Overcame an eye injury that rendered the eye legally blind.

2004-05 - - No winner due to the NHL lockout - -

2005-06--Teemu Selanne--Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Overcame major knee surgery to score 90 points (40 goals and 50 assists).

2006-07--Phil Kessel--Boston Bruins
Missed 12 games due to testicular cancer mid-season.

UP NEXT: My Eastern Conference Nominees
Filed Under:   Masterton   NHL   23  
February 15, 2008 4:18 PM ET | Delete
Where are your nominees? Jason Blake?
February 15, 2008 4:24 PM ET | Delete
The nominees are coming up in Part Two (the East) and Part Three (the West).Stay Tuned.
February 15, 2008 4:27 PM ET | Delete
Can I have my two minutes back?
February 15, 2008 4:28 PM ET | Delete
Why bother nominating people....Everyone knows that Jason Blake will win it, unless Zednik returns this season, in that case, he wins it
February 15, 2008 5:38 PM ET | Delete
How about someone on the Flyers who wasn't suspended this year if there are any?
February 15, 2008 9:13 PM ET | Delete
So Number 23, when Masterton said "Never again, never again" before slipping into unconsciousness, what do you suppose he was referring to? I guess no one will ever really know for sure. Nice bit of history. Thanks.
February 16, 2008 12:48 AM ET | Delete
Everyone here is saying Jason Blake, but what about Fernado Pisani.
February 16, 2008 2:22 PM ET | Delete
I have to agree with MelloYello. Blake does not run away with this award. Granted, I'm sure Blake has gone through a lot this year, but CML is treated quite will with Gleevec and I don't think he has missed a lot of time this year. He's still played 59 games so far. I know when people think leukemia and cancer its quite a scary thing, but I'm not sure if it has affected his life and gameplay more than Ulcerative Colitis has affected Pisani. I know that UC isn't cancer, but that doesn't mean its not a debilitating disease. Pisani has only been able to play 33 games this season. He lost a lot of weight due to the disease and had to work hard to get that weight back on so he could get in to playing shape. Now THAT is dedication.
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