Before we get underway with all the prospect/training camp/ fitness stuff I wanted to reflect on the importance of perspective with regards to the game. The Bill Masterton Trophy gets overlooked a lot because it's not as sexy as the Hart trophy or the Conn Smyth. This trophy is "...awarded for dedication, sportsmanship, and perseverance." Now doesn't that sound like the kind of trophy you would be incredibly proud to have? Winners of this trophy have overcome serious odds to win it, everything from cancer to personal tragedy, Blindness to dedicating their career and most of their life to one team.
Bill Masterton was a Center who played for the North Stars, he died after having his head hit the ice as a result of a hit. His death, two days later, was the catalyst for helmets being worn by players today.
There is no shortage of players on any team who have to over come some odds but I wanted to bring light to a few for the Flames. These are sometimes not just guys trying out but guys who have had tragedies that can take their dreams away from them.
Robyn Regehr- Regehr had both of his legs broken in a car accident that resulted in two others dying. Regehr dedicated himself to getting back and debuted with the Flames less that four months after. The injuries were so severe that the doctors feared his playing career was over. His Masterton nomination was a record for the youngest player to be nominated at the time.
Not all injuries are career threatening but it's hard enough to turn into an NHL player from a prospect without having to deal with something lie that.
Greg Nemisz was a first round pick in 2008, a power forward style player who may not get the assists he deserves for being the guy in front of the net. He Had a skate blade cut his leg open to the tune of 45 stitches and five weeks on the mend, tough for a guy who was critiqued on his skating. " Nemo" should look to have an impact in the AHL this year, a big scoring center is top priority for the Flames!
John Armstrong- Armstrong's left shoulder is/was a mess, we have yet to find out. High Energy, great competitor and it shows in his dedication to fighting for a spot on this club. Armstrong hasn't played since December after his already surgically repaired wing kept popping out. We don't know a huge amount about him but if you can trust the management and coaches they love him.
Matt Pelech- A serious Blood Clot under his shoulder could have ended his life, it was caught early however and was treated. Pelech is one prospect that has every right to make this team and if salary gets moved to allow for cap room it is assumed it will be on defence to allow Pelech his shot.
Daymond Langkow- Langkow was hit with a point shot from Ian White that struck him on his neck breaking vertebrae. That sounds pretty serious right? Langkow is now doing light skating, lifting and hitting are still on the not to do list but if he makes it back this season and his rehabilitation continues he should have a look at a nomination himself.
There are other players who received bumps and bruises, breaks and strains but they all take that risk basically for our enjoyment (and millions of dollars).
Having said all of that I am personally fired up about this season, the moves that will happen, the stories that will take place and seeing the Flames In the cup final. Official prediction is now on file.
There a lot of things bigger than hockey... but aren't you glad it's back??