The NHL has released the three finalists for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for the player that most exemplifies sportsmanship; perseverance; and dedication to hockey. This award is voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The finalists for 2020 are Dallas Stars’ Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators’ Bobby Ryan.
2020 Masterton Trophy Finalists Announced
The NHL awards the Masterton Trophy to commemorate the legacy of the late Bill Masterton. Masterton is only NHL player to die of injuries inflicted during a game to date. He played for the Minnesota North Stars, which later relocated to become the Dallas Stars. As a result of Masterton’s death, the merits of wearing helmets — which few players did at the time — became a larger conversation among the hockey community. Traditionally, the Masterton Trophy is awarded to players who have returned after experiencing a career- or life-threatening injury or illness.
Last season, the league awarded Robin Lehner with the Masterton Trophy after leading the New York Islanders to six shutouts and second in the Metropolitan Division. Earlier that season, he revealed his history with addiction and mental health issues in an article for The Athletic.
Johns’ 2018 season was cut short due to concussion symptoms. During training camp that year, he began experiencing post-traumatic headaches. As a result, he missed twenty-two months of competition, the entire 2018-19 season as well as 47 games in the 2019-20 season. In an interview with The Athletic, Johns spoke about how he had suicidal thoughts while dealing with his symptoms. When he made his return to the Dallas Stars’ lineup, he tallied 17 games this season, scoring two goals.
Lindblom’s bone cancer diagnosis was extremely publicized as #OskarStrong trended nationally. Before his Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis, the forward scored 18 points in 30 games, tying for first on the Flyers. In July, Lindblom completed radiation treatment, ringing the ceremonial bell in Philidelphia’s Abramson Cancer Center to celebrate the conclusion of his treatment. While undergoing chemotherapy, he attended numerous Flyers games to support his team.
Fight. Inspire. Overcome. Celebrate.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) July 2, 2020
While Lindblom will not be participating in postseason competition, he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the ice. The Flyers will compete against the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Washington Capitals to determine the top seeds for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In November, Ryan took an extended leave of absence to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, citing alcoholism as his reason to enter the program. Three months later, Ryan returned to the ring in a triumphant fashion. He scored a hat trick, leading to a long-standing ovation from fans in attendance. Since coming forward about his alcohol issues, Ryan has become vocal about his experience, encouraging younger players to seek treatment. Ryan played in Ottawa’s final eight games of the season before its suspension, sinking four goals during this period.
Ottawa will not be competing in the upcoming Stanley Cup qualifiers.
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