Exactly a year ago we wrote an article entitled “Steven Stamkos nominated for Masterton Trophy.” Last year he was not able to get back into the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup before the season ended, which perhaps is why he was overlooked for the award in favor of Craig Anderson. Anderson very definitely deserved it after contending with a family health crisis, but given the amount of hard work that Stamkos has put into recovering from each of his three major physical crises, you have to think the league will notice his efforts at some point.
Earlier today, Erik Erlendsson announced that Stamkos has once again been nominated for the Masterton.
This year, despite the fact that Stamkos has suffered and overcome adversity, and continues to suffer to play despite the lingering effects of his injuries, the award is probably not his to win yet again. It’s not Stamkos’s fault — Brian Boyle is this year’s nominee for the New Jersey Devils, and nobody could argue with the amount of adversity Boyle has had to overcome.
Still, if there is a lifetime achievement Masterton, Stamkos deserves it.
To steal from last year’s article:
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.
In the past five years, Stamkos has missed significant playing time due to: a broken leg (2013-14), a blood clot that could have easily killed him and that caused him to miss all but the very last game of playoffs (2015-16), and a torn right knee meniscus that cost him the rest of the season (2016-17).
In each of these moments of injury, Stamkos has admitted to feeling a crushing sense of difficulty, with the toughest recovery being from the meniscus tear. Earlier this season before the All-Star Game, Stamkos spoke to Sportsnet about how hard it was for him to return from that setback.
Well, it’s tough. I don’t think - there’s a new normal now, that’s for sure, with some of the tough injuries I’ve had. I really didn’t know what to expect coming into this year. I put in a lot of hard work in the summer. That’s all you can fall back on is the preparation you put in. [....] I don’t know if I’ll ever feel 100% again. But it’s just something that’s a constant - work and maintenance every day. The confidence mentally is something that continues to grow as the season progresses. It’s the best it’s felt since the surgery, that’s for sure.
Despite not being 100%, in 75 games played, Stamkos is second to only Nikita Kucherov in points, with 27G/59A for 86 points. He has the second-highest number of shots on goal at 206 — and this is all with a body that is a “new normal.”
With all due respect to Boyle, if anyone has worked hard to overcome every single injury and help his team to victory year after year, it’s Stamkos.