The National Hockey League announced the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on Thursday, which recognizes “the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” This award is voted and awarded annually by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
This year’s finalists are Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom and Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan.
Stephen Johns (@DallasStars), Oskar Lindblom (@NHLFlyers) and Bobby Ryan (@Senators) are the three finalists for the 2019-20 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. https://t.co/CCR177eGjN #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/pL7xrRtI9R
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 16, 2020
Every year, one player from each team is named as a nominee for the Masterton Trophy by the local PHWA chapter. The trophy has often been awarded to a player who has overcome adversities such as a serious injury, an illness, a family crisis, and other factors.
Here is a list of players who were up to be finalists for the award in the 2019-20 season:
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association proudly announces chapters’ nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: pic.twitter.com/EpBQDoMhe5
— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 9, 2020
Back on March 29, 2018, Johns suffered a concussion in a game against the Minnesota Wild that led to a long road to recovery. He suffered from post-concussion syndrome and chronic headaches, which led to depression and suicidal thoughts, as he detailed in an interview with The Athletic back in June. Johns thought he would never return to the game of hockey after that.
However, nearly 22 months later, Johns was able to return to game action and appeared in 17 games in the 2019-20 season. He was able to score two goals and add three assists for five points in that time, while averaging 17:40 of total ice-time.
Johns has played in 167 games with the Stars, where he has scored 15 goals and registered 18 assists for 33 points. He was originally drafted in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The 28-year-old was listed on Dallas’ roster for the upcoming Return To Play plan this summer in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Stars will play in the Western Conference seeding round-robin tournament for the chance to earn the top-seed in the conference playoffs along with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights.
An incredible journey, a worthy honor.
Stephen Johns is a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy — pic.twitter.com/VOFZx4mROv
— x-Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) July 16, 2020
The 2019-20 season started off well for Lindblom, who managed to score 11 goals and put up 18 points in the first 30 games for the Flyers.
However, in December, Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, after discovering a bump sticking out of his ribs. From there, he would go through a nearly seven-month intense chemotherapy regimen and has since been deemed “without evidence of cancer at this time” by his medical team.
Fight. Inspire. Overcome. Celebrate.
— x-Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) July 2, 2020
Lindblom was even able to get back on the ice and skate with his teammates during Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return To Play plan, but he will not play in this summer’s playoffs in Toronto, Ontario. The 23-year-old is currently in his third season with the Flyers, where he has appeared in 134 games while scoring 30 goals and amassing 27 assists for 57 points. He was a fifth round pick of the Flyers in the 2014 NHL Draft.
The Flyers will play in the seeding round-robin tournament in the Eastern Conference to play for the top-seed for the conference playoffs along with the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals.
As for Ryan, he appeared in 16 games to start the season for the Senators before entering the NHL/NHLPA Players’ Assistance program on Nov. 20 to get help for alcohol addiction. The 33-year-old had only scored a goal and registered three assists during that span, but he responded in a big way when he returned to the team in February.
After his first game back on Feb. 25 against the Nashville Predators, Ryan returned to the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, where he scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. After his empty net goal in the third period for his third tally of the game, the fans erupted in a “Bobby” chant, which left the 13-year veteran in tears on the bench.
In his seventh season in Ottawa, Ryan finished the year with five goals and three assists for eight points in 24 games. In 455 career games with the Senators, Ryan has scored a total of 107 goals and added 159 assists for 266 points. He was originally the second overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
An announcement of the winner of the Bill Masterton Trophy will come at a later date.
Here is the list of other award finalists to be named in the coming days:
- Friday, July 17: Willie O’Ree Award, Vezina Trophy
- Monday, July 20: Norris Trophy, Selke Trophy
- Tuesday, July 21: Hart Trophy