The Tampa chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Associated nominated captain Steven Stamkos as the Lightning nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The award is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey,” and is named in honor of Bill Masterton, the Minnesota North Stars player who died as a direct result of injuries sustained on Jan. 15, 1958. The PHWA writers for each team nominates one player, and at the end of the regular season the winner is determined by all the PHWA chapters.
Stamkos has not played since he injured his right knee during a game against the Red Wings on Nov. 15; he underwent surgery two days later for a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Stamkos has been skating and practicing with the team since late February.
The team wrote the following in a press release:
Through four months of hard work to while rehabilitation and physical therapy, the Lightning captain has shown dedication and perseverance to work his way back to full health once again from a potentially devastating injury.
“It’s an honor for (the PHWA) to recognize the hard work and dedication for a lot of the stuff that people don’t really see on an everyday basis,’’ Stamkos said in a team-issued press release. “I know the (media) get a chance to see it more than others, but in looking at this group that we have in (Tampa Bay) and around the league to see the other guys who are nominated, to see the correlation between those guys and the work ethic they have, how they continue to be pros, it’s definitely an honor.’’
There’s no return date with the regular season drawing to a close, but he’s still out there on the ice putting in the work. Stamkos was spotted again this morning on the ice.
This is the third major injury that Stamkos has overcome. In 2013-2014, there was a broken tibia that forced him to miss his first Olympics; last season, he battled back from thoracic outlet syndrome and blood clots. Through it all, we’ve seen nothing but the determination to get back on the ice.
John Cullen is the previous Lightning player to win the award in 1998-1999 for overcoming non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The PHWA is made up of 31 chapters: one in each NHL city and one international chapter.