NEW YORK – The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) is pleased to announce the 2024 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominees.

Each of the PHWA’s 32 local chapters submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.”

The top three vote-getters, as determined by a membership-wide runoff, will be designated as finalists. The Masterton Trophy will be awarded, along with the other NHL major awards, during the Stanley Cup Final.

The following are this year’s nominees: in alphabetical order:

Frederik Andersen, G, Carolina Hurricanes

Following a 4-1-0 start to the regular season, Andersen was informed doctors had discovered a blood clotting issue affecting the 11-year NHL veteran. He missed 49 games over four months from Nov. 4 to March 7. “It came out of nowhere. There were some symptoms, and that initiated the check-ups,” Andersen told the Raleigh News and Observer. After returning to the lineup – a process complicated by limited access to ice during treatment – Andersen posted a 9-1-0 record, 1.30 goals-against average, .951 save percentage and three shutouts, helping the Hurricanes finish the season third in the NHL’s overall standings. “I think the story’s not quite done yet with him,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Hopefully it ends with even something better. But just the fact that he came back … You take the worst-case scenario out of it, which is he wouldn’t be able to play again, I think that was the worst case that everyone was worried about. So it’s a win, either way.”

Connor Ingram, G, Arizona Coyotes

Ingram nearly retired due to an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and lingering depression before he sought help through the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance program in 2021, which he credits with turning his life and career around. Claimed off waivers by Arizona in October 2022, Ingram appeared in 27 games for the club in 2022-23 and established himself as the Coyotes top goaltender in 2023-24, posting a 23-21-3 record, 2.91 goals-against average, .907 save percentage and a league-tying best six shutouts in 50 appearances. Ingram has shared his story publicly since 2021 and noted how it inspired others. “It shows that while you have dark days in your life, there’s always a way out and there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” Ingram told PHNX Sports. “But this is not for me. It’s so other people can say ‘Hey, man, look. Life sucks right now, but let’s figure it out.’ I think this is a great way to prove you can get through it and you can do it. So why not try?”

Oliver Kylington, D, Calgary Flames

Kylington returned to the Flames lineup in late January after more than a year and a half away from the team. While Kylington has preferred not to share all the details of his extended absence for mental health reasons, the second-round pick by Calgary in the 2015 NHL Draft revealed as he returned to action that he’d worried he may not be able to resume his promising career. Kylington, who continued to work with Flames’ support staff through his time away from the game, again became a fixture on Calgary’s blueline, skating an average of 17:15 per game in 33 contests. His comeback has inspired and provided hope for many facing their own mental health challenges. “Everyone’s journey is very individual. It’s very personal. You can take bits and bites of my story, and that can maybe help someone,” Kylington told the Calgary Herald. “But at the end of the day, as an individual, you have to do the work yourself and face your problems, your individual problems, and do that journey yourself.”

Mark Mulvoy selected as 2023 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award winner

TORONTO (June 1, 2023) – Frank Seravalli, President of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, and Chuck Kaiton, President of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association, announced today that Mark Mulvoy will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism, and Dan Rusanowsky will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

Mark Mulvoy’s incredible career in sports journalism began at his hometown Boston Globe in the 1960s. In the decades that followed he made his mark at Sports Illustrated, rising through the ranks to become the youngest managing editor in the magazine’s history. His passion for hockey never wavered, and found expression in books like “My Game” with Bobby Orr and “Face off at the Summit” with Ken Dryden.

“Mark Mulvoy was a ground-breaking reporter as the first foreigner given access behind enemy lines to lift the curtain on the Soviet style of play”, said Seravalli. “Mulvoy had boots on the ground in Moscow a handful of years before the ’72 Summit Series, then of course was there to chronicle history. More importantly, he kept hockey in the hands and doctor’s offices of the voracious Sports Illustrated readers. He was hockey’s best friend at a time of critical period of growth for the sport.”

Dan Rusanowsky has been the radio voice of the San Jose Sharks since the team’s inception in 1991. One of the club’s most recognizable figures both on-and-off the ice, Rusanowsky directs the Sharks Radio Network, contributes to the team’s official game program, and provides regular columns and broadcast reports for sjsharks.com. A native of Connecticut, Rusanowsky began his broadcast career as the voice of St. Lawrence University’s NCAA Division I hockey program and the American Hockey League’s New Haven Nighthawks.

“Dan has an insatiable love for radio and has been an integral part of promoting the game of hockey in the Bay area on that medium from day one​ of the San Joes Sharks’ existence in 1991,” said Kaiton. “He is extremely worthy of this honour.”

Mulvoy and Rusanowsky will receive their awards at the “Hockey Hall of Fame NHL Media Awards Luncheon” in Toronto on Monday, November 13, 2023, and their award plaques will be displayed in the Esso Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside past award recipients.

Recipients of these awards, as selected by their respective associations, are recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame as “Media Honourees” – a separate distinction from individuals inducted as “Honoured Members.”

Honoured Members are selected by the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

The 2023 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend begins on Friday, November 10, 2023, culminating with the Induction Celebration on Monday, November 13, 2023. This year’s inductees will be announced live on TSN on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

  • Named in honour of the late Montreal newspaper reporter, the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award was first presented in 1984 by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in recognition of distinguished members of the hockey writing profession whose words have brought honour to journalism and to the game of hockey.
  • Named in honour of the late “Voice of Hockey” in Canada, the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award was first presented in 1984 by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association in recognition of members of the radio and television industry who have made outstanding contributions to their profession and to the game of hockey.

2023 Masterton Memorial Trophy finalists named

NEW YORK – Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock are the three finalists for the 2022-23 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” the National Hockey League announced today.

The local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season and the top three vote-getters were designated as finalists. The winner will be revealed live during the 2023 NHL Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Monday, June 26.

Following are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Clayton Keller, RW, Arizona Coyotes

Keller suffered a fractured femur during a game versus the San Jose Sharks on March 30, 2022 and underwent six months of rehab to be ready for the start of what became a career season in 2022-23. He appeared in all 82 games and set career highs in goals (37), assists (49) and points (86), matching the highest points total by a Coyotes player since the team moved to Arizona (Keith Tkachuk, 52-34 — 86 in 1996-97). Keller represented the Coyotes at the 2023 NHL All-Star Game and posted 24 points in March, the most ever in a month by a Coyote. “His mental toughness is probably the part I’m most proud of because I know what had to be going through his mind immediately after the injury and the surgery,” his father, Bryan Keller, told PHNX. “He had to wait a couple of days to start physical therapy, but once he was on the walker, he goes, ‘I’ll be skating in six weeks.’ And then once he started skating, he had alreadyset a goal that he would be ready for opening night, which he was.”

Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

Letang persevered through a stroke, the second of his lifetime, and mourned the passing of his father within a span of four weeks during the season. Through it all, he remained a Penguins cornerstone in his 17th season with the club. He ranked 10th among all NHL players in ice time per game (24:51) and recorded 12-29–41 in 64 games. Letang is a Masterton Trophy finalist for the second time, finishing as a runner-up to Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk in 2014-15. “Obviously, there are some tough times, there’s emotional times. But at the end of the day, I always thought that I was going to push through it and be able to go on the other side and be the same or better,” Letang told The Athletic. “I always kind of took pride to be able to bring it every day. That’s how I was raised – never back down from a challenge or to never quit when you’re down.”

Alex Stalock, G, Chicago Blackhawks

Stalock signed as a free agent with the Blackhawks in July 2022, determined to regain an NHL roster spot. The 35-year-old, 11-year NHL veteran had appeared in one League game over the prior two seasons, having been diagnosed with myocarditis after testing positive for COVID-19 in 2019-20. Stalockquickly won over teammates with his off-ice presence and on-ice performance while battling through setbacks ranging from concussions to oculomotor dysfunction, a vision problem that affects the central nervous system. He finished the season at 9-15-2 with a 3.01 GAA in 27 games. “The last couple of years have been tough with what I’ve gone through,” Stalock told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Honestly, going through it, were there points where I had doubts in my mind that I would ever play again? Yeah. But at the same time, it’s the way I’m wired that I wouldn’t let that be the end of it.”

PHWA Women’s Hockey Chapter votes Loren Gabel as MVP of Premier Hockey Federation

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced Boston Pride newcomer Loren Gabel has been selected as both the PHF Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

The MVP award was determined by an independent vote conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) Women’s Hockey Chapter, while the Outstanding Player of the Year award recipient was selected by members of the PHF Players’ Association (PHFPA).

This year marked the first time that PHWA members voted on PHF MVP.

“It is an absolute honor to win the 2022-23 MVP and Outstanding Player of the Year awards, and I am proud to be recognized by my fellow players and by the dedicated media that cover this league,” said Gabel. “I couldn’t have done it without every single person who has helped me get to this point. The PHF has a tremendous amount of talent, and I am fortunate that I get to play alongside and against some of the best every day. I am thankful for the opportunity I was given to play in Boston, and I am looking forward to my future in the PHF.”

The MVP and Outstanding Player of the Year honors bring Gabel’s 2022-23 awards count to four, making her one of the most decorated players in single-season history. She was also selected as the PHF Newcomer of the Year and earned the Offensive Player of the Year award as the league’s top regular-season scorer.

Gabel helped Boston finish in first place in the overall standings with the league’s highest-scoring offense. Her 40 points in 22 games tied a single-season record, while her 20 goals and 20 assists were both leading figures that gave the league its first offensive triple-crown winner since the inaugural 2015-16 campaign.

“As chair of the newly formed Women’s Hockey Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA), it is an honor to announce Boston Pride forward Loren Gabel as the 2023 PHF Most Valuable Player,” PHWA chair Erica L. Ayala said. “Although this isn’t the first time media have voted for league awards, this is the inaugural year media have voted as members of the PHWA. Loren received six first-ballot votes from our panel of 13 women’s hockey reporters and led all vote-getters with 43 points overall. It was an honor to represent the PHWA alongside Commissioner Reagan Carey, PHF Players Association Executive Director Nicole Corriero, and the league’s first-ever MVP Brianna Decker, to surprise Loren with the news. Congratulations to Loren on a spectacular first season! We look forward to all that is to come in what we hope is a long professional hockey career.”

Loren GabelBoston Pride64143
Kennedy MarchmentConnecticut Whale35434
Corinne SchroederBoston Pride22218
Brittany HowardToronto Six11210
Jade Downie-LandryMontréal Force1016
Ann-Sophie BettezMontréal Force0103
Mikyla Grant-MentisBuffalo Beauts0022
Fanni Garat-GasparicsMetropolitan Riveters0011

PHWA announces 2023 Masterton Trophy nominees

The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) is pleased to announce the 2023 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominees.

Each of the PHWA’s 32 local chapters submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.”

The top three vote-getters, as determined by a membership-wide runoff, will be designated as finalists. The Masterton Trophy will be awarded, along with the other NHL major awards, during the Stanley Cup Final.

The following are this year’s nominees:

ANAHEIM — JAKOB SILFVERBERG: The 32-year-old Silfverberg has represented hard-working consistency over his 10 seasons with the Ducks but his ability to persist and give them some effective play after dealing with health issues in recent years is why he deserves to be nominated for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He has overcome major hip surgery and blood clotting issues in his leg in the last two years. Healthy again, Silfverberg has missed only one game and brought his offensive production back into double digits in goals (10) and assists (16) while remaining dedicated to playing at both ends of the ice.

ARIZONA — CLAYTON KELLER: Clayton Keller could have focused his entire offseason on rehab. When he broke his right femur into two clean pieces after crashing into the boards on March 30, 2022, most analysts — internal and external — figured he would miss the start of the season. But this summer wasn’t just about getting healthy; it was about getting better. On his own dime, Keller hired a battery of specialists to help with everything from movement and mental state to on-ice strategy. Now he’s threatening to break Keith Tkachuk’s single-season Coyotes franchise points record, and he has blossomed into a bona fide NHL superstar.

BOSTON — NICK FOLIGNO: After a challenging first season with the Boston Bruins where injuries got in the way, Nick Foligno showed his determination and perseverance in enjoying a bounce-back season in Boston. After scoring just two goals in 2021-22, the 35-year-old Foligno rebounded with 10 goals and 26 points in 60 games while playing a vital bottom-6 role for a Boston Bruins hockey team that took the rest of the NHL by absolute storm. His leadership off the ice also helped tighten the team’s bond while shepherding along some of his younger teammates and lightening the captaincy load on Patrice Bergeron.

BUFFALO — CRAIG ANDERSON: The NHL’s oldest player at 41 years, goalie Craig Anderson agreed to come back for one more season and has been a major presence in both the locker room and on the ice. Coach Don Granato considers Anderson another coach and has often spoken of the calming influence the goalie has had on the NHL’s youngest team. Anderson, the 2017 Masterton winner while with Ottawa, has navigated Buffalo’s three-goalie rotation to win at least 10 games for the 15th time in his career while posting a .908 save percentage.

CALGARY — MIKAEL BACKLUND: Flames center Mikael Backlund is not only an example of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game, but you can add another important word to the list — loyalty. In March, Backlund joined an exclusive club by becoming just the third player to log 900 career regular-season appearances on behalf of the Flames franchise. The 34-year-old has been a model citizen around the Scotiabank Saddledome. He’s reliable on the ice, a perennial contender for the fittest Flame title, a leader in the locker room, and active in a community he has now called home for the past 14 seasons.

CAROLINA — JORDAN MARTINOOK: Jordan Martinook had to hold his breath at the start of the season after the Hurricanes put him on waivers in a cap-related move. Five months later, it’s hard to imagine Carolina without him. The 30-year-old alternate captain, who has battled injuries the past three seasons, has cemented himself in the Hurricanes’ top nine by becoming an invaluable part of the team’s shutdown line. His 11 goals are one shy of his total from the last three years, and his 31 points are a career-high. Most importantly, he’s a locker room leader and the ultimate team-first player.

CHICAGO — ALEX STALOCK: The Masterton shouldn’t just be a comeback player of the year award, but Alex Stalock’s dedication and perseverance in the face of the unknown — a diagnosis of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) following a bout with Covid-19 that allowed him to play just one NHL game over the 2021 and 2022-23 seasons — can’t be understated. And the gregarious goalie’s popularity and respect leaguewide despite being a journeyman/tweener throughout his career underscores his high level of sportsmanship. That he’s played so well (and so entertainingly) behind such a terrible team despite a concussion and ocular dysfunction (separate injuries) only boosts his case.

COLORADO — ANDREW COGLIANO: If you leave the Avalanche dressing room following a morning skate, you’ll probably see Andrew Cogliano running springs or doing some form of squat. At 35 years old and 1,200-plus games into his NHL career, Cogliano is as dedicated to his craft as ever. Cogliano came to Colorado from San Jose at the 2022 trade deadline and, as one of the most respected veterans in the league, became an instant leader, giving a memorable speech to the team ahead of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. After winning his first championship, he re-signed with Colorado for another year, and he has his most goals in a season since 2017-18.

COLUMBUS — BOONE JENNER: During a 10-year NHL career, Boone Jenner has built a reputation as one of the league’s most dedicated and respected players. The Columbus chapter of the PHWA is proud to nominate him for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Jenner, 29, is relentlessly competitive but rarely crosses the line with opponents or officials. He has played as the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 center all season, playing higher in the lineup because of a desperate need on the Columbus roster. Despite missing three weeks (11 games) with a broken thumb, Jenner has a club-leading 26 goals, the second-highest total of his career.

DALLAS — JAMIE BENN: In the four years coming into this season, Jamie Benn’s play was heavily scrutinized by those inside the Stars organization and those on the outside. Benn rose to prominence as a prolific scorer but his production took a dip since the 2018-19 season. After an offseason of altering his workout routine, Benn is having one of his most productive seasons in half a decade. He also played in his 1,000th career NHL game in February and became the longest-tenured captain in franchise history.

DETROIT — ROBBY FABBRI: At age 27, Fabbri already has undergone three ACL surgeries. His latest one delayed his debut this season to Jan. 4. . Fabbri’s determination showed in how energetically and effectively he played, as he recorded goals in three of his first four games. He immediately elbowed his way into the top six mix and power play time. Fabbri appeared in 28 games, recording seven goals and nine assists.

EDMONTON — DEREK RYAN: Derek Ryan was an undrafted 24-year-old when he graduated from the University of Alberta Golden Bears 12 years ago, and left Edmonton for four years of pro hockey Europe. He rekindled his NHL dream in 2015, Carolina camp fodder at age 29. Today he is 36 and a trusted depth forward in Edmonton, seventh on the team with 12 goals. Dependable, with better hands than you’d think, he’s approaching 500 NHL games played. “My life’s changed a lot since my university days,” said Ryan, the Oilers nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. “It’s nice to (be) back here.”

FLORIDA — PATRIC HORNQVIST: After winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hornqvist really does not have anything to prove on the ice. But yet, there he is, each and every day, working out in yellow no-contact garb with the Panthers either in practice, morning skates or just to warm up the goalies. Hornqvist, 36, has been on long-term injured reserve after suffering his second concussion within a span of a month back in December. The Panthers say he will not play again this season, yet there the 15-year veteran is there every time the Panthers hit the ice. Florida coach Paul Maurice also credits Hornqvist for helping Anthony Duclair come back from Achilles tendon surgery as those two were workout partners in the months leading up to Duclair’s return. Just don’t call him ‘Coach Hornqvist.’ He’s not ready for that just yet.

LOS ANGELES — PHEONIX COPLEY: When Pheonix Copley was signed on July 13, 2022 by Los Angeles as a free agent, the move was thought to be a minor league goaltending depth add as Pheonix had only played two NHL games since the 2019-‘20 season. But with established starters Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen underachieving, the 31-year-old Copley was summoned to the big club and made his biggest save, that of the Kings season. He set a franchise record by becoming the fastest goaltender to reach the 20-win mark needing only 29 appearances and earned a one-year contract extension.

MINNESOTA — MASON SHAW: When Mason Shaw tore an ACL for the third time, his father, Aaron, flew to Des Moines to take his son home for good. Instead, Shaw stayed, began his third six-month rehab and this past fall had an exceptional training camp before being named Iowa Wild captain. Called up after two games, the 24-year-old Shaw never left. He became a fourth-line mainstay and penalty killer before suffering another season-ending knee injury on April 1 at Vegas. Shaw could have quit umpteen times. He could have been a minor leaguer forever. Instead, he worked exhaustively to become an NHLer. That’s why as devastated as teammates were for him in early April, they have no doubt he’ll be back.

MONTRÉAL — ALEX BELZILE: À 31 ans, Alex Belzile a marqué son premier but dans la LNH le 12 février dernier contre les Oilers d’Edmonton. Il en était à son 20e match avec le Canadien, réparti sur les trois dernières saisons. Depuis l’époque de l’expansion de 1967, il est le plus vieux joueur du Canadien à obtenir son premier but. Jamais, Belzile n’a abandonné son rêve d’atteindre la grande ligue. Il a franchi les étapes une à la fois, jouant 168 matchs dans la ECHL à Gwinnett en Georgie, à Anchorage en Alaska, à Boise en Idaho, à Fort Wayne en Indiana et à Loveland au Colorado. Il a aussi visité plusieurs villes de la Ligue américaine avec des arrêts à Hamilton, San Antonio et Laval pour un total de 319 rencontres. Capitaine du Rocket de Laval en début de saison, l’ailier symbolise la persévérance et le dévouement pour son sport.

Alex Belzile scored his first NHL goal on Feb. 12 against the Edmonton Oilers…at 31 years of age. It was his 20th game with the Canadiens spread over the past three seasons. Since the 1967 expansion, he is the oldest Canadiens player ever to score his first NHL goal. Belzile never gave up on his dream of reaching the NHL, getting there step by step. He played 168 games in the ECHL, from Gwinnett County, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska to Fort Wayne, Indiana to Boise, Idaho to Loveland, Colorado. His stops over 319 games in the AHL included places like Hamilton, Ontario, San Antonio, Texas, and finally, Laval, Quebec. Named captain of the Laval Rocket at the beginning of this season, the winger personifies perseverance and dedication to hockey.

NASHVILLE — CODY GLASS: Despite just turning 24, Glass has faced his share of adversity in his young career, including injuries, inconsistencies that led to long stretches in the minors, and even being stuck in the U.S. during the height of Covid-19 unable to return home to his native Canada while rehabbing a torn ACL. Called into GM David Poile’s office prior to the team’s season-opening trip to Europe, Glass became emotional when told he would be accompanying the team. He’s remained at the NHL level all season, spending a significant amount of time centering Nashville’s top line.

NEW JERSEY — DOUGIE HAMILTON: Dougie Hamilton is a Canadian defenseman who plays for the New Jersey Devils. The Boston Bruins selected Hamilton with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft – and he’s grown into one of the league’s top defensemen since then. Hamilton, 29, has a career-high in points (71), goals (20) and assists (51) this season, despite suffering a brutal jaw injury last January. Hamilton said he “still can’t feel” his jaw sometimes, but he’s persevered and has been a key part of the Devils’ turnaround season (New Jersey clinched its first playoff berth since 2017-18 on March 25).

NEW YORK (ISLANDERS) — ZACH PARISE: Zach Parise: At 38, Zach Parise is a 20-goal scorer for the 11th time in 18 NHL seasons and for the first time since 2019-20, making him and the late J.P. Parise the fourth father-son duo in NHL history with 20 goals for the same franchise. He’s played on the top line and is a regular on both special teams. His teammates rave about how supportive he is. In short, hockey is fun again for Parise after his on-ice role was reduced by the Wild and he was ultimately bought out of the final four seasons of a 13-year, $98 million deal.

NEW YORK (RANGERS) — JIMMY VESEY: A journeyman that competed for four different teams over three seasons, Jimmy Vesey returned to the first team he signed with as a coveted free agent out of Harvard, the Rangers, on a professional tryout. He parlayed it into a one-year contract, and then a two-year extension through 2024-25 after it became clear that he was an invaluable addition to the lineup. Vesey, who had to change his game over those tough three seasons to remain in the NHL, saw time on every single line this season. His current 24 points represent his highest production since his last season in New York in 2018-19. This season has been a full circle moment for Vesey, who seemingly always wanted to make it work on Broadway and now he actually has.

OTTAWA — DERICK BRASSARD: Derick Brassard arrived at training camp on a PTO and was considered a long shot to crack the Senators’ roster. But the 35-year-old earned a contract just prior to the start of the regular season and has carved out a full-time role with the Senators in 2022-23. At Madison Square Garden in March, Brassard suited up for his 1,000th career NHL game and embraced the moment by scoring two goals to help propel the Senators to a victory.

PHILADELPHIA — NICK SEELER: The 29-year-old defenseman is a study in perseverance. In 2020-21, he stepped away from hockey for a season because he needed a “mental and physical break.” A journeyman most of his career, he wasn’t expected to be a regular this season. But he has become one of the Flyers’ best defensemen. He has set a career-high in goals and points, is second on the Flyers in hits, and is second among their D-men with a plus-2 rating. In addition, he is among the NHL leaders in blocked shots. Seeler is the ultimate team player. He is someone who always hustles, always plays with physicality, and drops his gloves to protect a teammate. For someone who left the sport for a year, he has revived his career and made his mark.

PITTSBURGH — KRIS LETANG: The Penguins’ nominee for a fourth time, Letang’s 17-year career has been one setback after another. His best friend, Luc Bourdon, died in a motorcycle accident during Letang’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final (2008). Letang, a lifetime sufferer of debilitating migraine, had a stroke (2015) that led to the diagnosis of a small hole in his heart. He and his wife lost a child to a miscarriage (2016). A neck injury forced him to miss the Penguins’ Cup run (2017). He also has missed games on three occasions because of a concussion. But even with all of that, this season has been especially trying for Letang. He missed time because of a second stroke and the death of his father. Still, Letang remains the Penguins’ best defenseman — leading that position in goals, points, and minutes — while also serving as a mentor to Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a fellow French Canadian who lives with Letang’s family in Pittsburgh. Always a deserving nominee, Letang would be a worthy winner of the Masterton Trophy.

SAN JOSE — NIKOLAI KNYZHOV: Knyzhov was the Sharks’ rookie of the year in 2020-21. That season ended with sports hernia surgery, which set off a nearly two-year odyssey to get back to game action. The first surgery led to four total procedures, infection, and missing all of 2021-22. Then, in the run up to this season, Knyzhov suffered a torn Achilles tendon. He earned consistent praise for his attitude and work ethic during the rehab process. Knyzhov returned to play in the AHL on Jan. 25 – 623 days after his last game with the Sharks, and to the NHL on March 6.

SEATTLE — BRANDON TANEV: Rugged Kraken winger Brandon Tanev overcame a torn ACL that ended his 2021-22 season midway through and has rallied to form part of arguably the NHL’s best fourth line for his playoff-bound squad. Admired by teammates for his locker room sense of humor and gritty on- ice leadership, Tanev has also taken a primary role in helping the Kraken form lasting bonds within the Seattle community. He was the first Kraken player last season to volunteer to make community visits. This season, he’s continued that in hospitals and schools – his ghost-like facial expressions becoming a huge hit with children.

ST. LOUIS — SAMMY BLAIS: Sammy Blais, 26, endured long odds of making it to the NHL as a sixth-round draft pick of the Blues in 2014. Not only did the winger find his way into the league, but he was a productive member of St. Louis’ Stanley Cup-winning club in 2019. In 2021, Blais was traded to the New York Rangers in a high-profile trade involving Pavel Buchnevich, but he played in just 14 games before suffering a torn ACL and missing the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Blais returned to the Rangers’ roster in 2022 but was subsequently dealt back to the Blues in another high-profile trade involving Vladimir Tarasenko in 2023. After scoring zero goals with the Rangers in 54 games, Blais eclipsed his career point total in St. Louis.

TAMPA BAY — PIERRE-EDOUARD BELLEMARE: In a Lightning locker room full of stars, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare carves out his leadership niche with his constant positive attitude and passion for the game. This season, he played his 608th NHL game, setting the record for most played by a French national. He’s played with a heavy heart. In October, he found out that cancer had returned for his mother, Frederique. He left the team briefly around Thanksgiving to return to France to essentially say goodbye to his mother. Days after his mother died in late January, Bellemare gave an inspirational speech to his team and in his second game back, scored a goal in the Lightning’s win over the Kings and pointed to the sky.

TORONTO — MARK GIORDANO: The oldest Maple Leaf at age 39, Giordano broke the modern-day NHL record for most career shot blocks in February with his 2,045th. While the stat has only been kept regularly by the league since 2005-06, it remains a remarkable achievement, given how hard pucks are fired today and the heightened risk of injury. As of early April, he is also ranked in the top 30 for blocks by an NHL defenceman this season. Giordano has proved indispensable for the Leafs in many other ways, as a mentor to the youngest players and the club’s last defenceman to take a game off in the 2022-23 regular season, consistently ignoring team suggestions to skip morning skates. In his first full season in Toronto, he has averaged 18:57 of ice time. In the summer of 2022, Giordano signed a two-year contract at a near minimum salary to try and help the team’s tight salary cap situation and be part of his hometown’s first appearance in the Stanley Cup final since 1967.

VANCOUVER — BROCK BOESER: The Canucks winger is in his sixth NHL season and none have been easy. He lost his father to dementia and cancer last season, an exceptionally painful loss for him and his family. This season he suffered a wrist injury in pre-season, came back, had his surgical wound re-open, putting him back on the shelf for a time, then was nearly a healthy scratch on Hockey Fights Cancer night. But since Christmas, he’s improved his game and has become the no. 1 choice on J.T. Miller’s right wing. He’s now three points shy of tying a career-high while proving to be a solid two-way winger.

VEGAS — PHIL KESSEL: Kessel’s perseverance and dedication to ice hockey are unquestionable with his 1,060 (and counting) consecutive games played as proof. Kessel has played through bumps, bruises, and worse to be there for his team night in and night out for more than 13 years. The Ironman streak alone is worthy of the nomination, and his love for the game helped cement it. He’s one of the most popular players in every dressing room he enters, and his smile on the ice every day at practice is contagious.

WASHINGTON — JOHN CARLSON: The same night he assisted on Alex Ovechkin’s 801st goal and minutes before No. 802, John Carlson took a slap shot to the head from former teammate Brenden Dillon. Carlson went to the hospital. The damage was a fractured skull and a severed temporal artery. Even with the Capitals realistically out of the playoff chase, Carlson returned exactly three months later to show he could still play hockey in light of the injury.

WINNIPEG — SAM GAGNER: It hasn’t been an easy road for Sam Gagner, whose path to 1,000 NHL games included several unplanned stops in the minors during the past several seasons. But those three demotions to the American Hockey League didn’t diminish Gagner’s love for hockey, it simply provided some additional motivation and perspective. The sixth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft was signed by the Jets in early September to provide some versatility and flexibility. That’s exactly what he was able to do, playing a variety of roles before his season came to a premature end after he underwent hip surgery.

PHWA, PHF announce Media Partnership & Women’s Hockey Chapter

BOSTON, MA — The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), in association with the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA), has announced a new media partnership that includes the PHWA independently voting on an array of PHF annual awards. The partnership began with the introduction of a PHWA Women’s Hockey Chapter that includes 13 inaugural members who cast ballots to determine the PHF’s Most Valuable Player of the 2022-23 season.

“The growth of professional women’s hockey is accelerated with impactful collaborations and increased visibility in the media which make this partnership with the PHWA a win for our sport,” PHF commissioner Reagan Carey said. “We’re proud that the PHWA has recognized a significant opportunity with thePHF and the thriving community of dedicated and talented women’s hockey contributors we’re grateful for. Their influence as part of our awards process is another example of trailblazing initiatives within the PHF and is an important step in the enhancement and amplification of these prestigious honors.”

The PHWA has independently voted on the biggest NHL Awards, including the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng, and Conn Smythe trophies, each season for more than six decades. The PHWA managed the PHF’s MVP voting process for 2023 and the partnership is expected to expand next season to include other awards that celebrate and honor annual excellence in the game. The PHWA will also have a seat at the table in helping shape the PHF’s media access policy in the near future.

“We are thrilled to witness the growth of women’s hockey, and we’re appreciative of the stability, resources, and leadership that the PHF has demonstrated,” PHWA president Frank Seravalli said. “We are excited to collaborate with the PHF and branch out into a league beyond the NHL for the first time in our organization’s 56-year history. It was time. Our newest members have poured their souls into covering the women’s game like a blanket, and we’re proud to bolster the premier women’s hockey writers on the planet with more support and resources to aid and enhance their coverage.”

Finalists for 2022-23 PHF MVP and other annual league awards will be announced in advance of Sunday’s 2023 Isobel Cup Championship at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona, as the Toronto Six meet the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Award recipients will be announced individually following the final.

Flyers, Wild win 2022 Dillman Award

The Professional Hockey Writers Association is pleased to announce the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild are 2022 winners of the Dick Dillman Award, presented annually to honor the work of outstanding NHL public relations staffs.

Traditionally, the award recognizes the excellence of one winner in each the Eastern and Western conferences. As the sports world attempted to return to a sense of normalcy while still enduring the unusual circumstances presented by the global pandemic, the selection committee once again took in great consideration all that was involved.

The Wild (Western Conference) were the committee’s choice for a third consecutive season, while 2022 marks the first Flyers win since 2018. This year marks the fourth time both the Wild and Flyers have been honored.

“We’re once again pleased to recognize members of communication staffs and recognize them for what they do best, including building relationships between members of the media and teams, so that we can write stories effectively while efficiently report on oft-times difficult situations outside of daily activity,” PHWA president Frank Seravalli said. “These two staffs stood out among their peers, with Minnesota continuing to set a standard that made it an easy choice for a third straight season. We commend both the Wild and Flyers for a job well done.

In Minnesota, the communications department is led by Aaron Sickman, director of media relations, along with media relations specialist Megan Kogut.

“We are incredibly honored and grateful to be named a recipient of the Dick Dillman Award,” Sickman said. “We want to recognize and thank everyone in our organization, including Bill Guerin, our coaches and players for their willingness to share their stories with the media and our fans. We are also very thankful for the great coverage the Wild received this past year from our writers and broadcasters.”

The Philadelphia Flyers’ PR staff is headed by Zack Hill, senior director of communications, under the direction of vice president of communications Sean Coit. The director of public relations is Joe Siville and Brian Smith is the manager of broadcasting and media services. Allie Samuelsson is the game operations coordinator, Meghan Flanagan is director of corporate communications, and Kate Kizitaff is the communications coordinator.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association wishes to congratulate Hill for 29 years of meritorious service to hockey media and offer best wishes in retirement. Under Hill, the Flyers have been named a finalist for the Dillman Award an incredible 12 times.

“We are honored, thrilled and humbled to win the Dillman Award,” said Hill.. “Our goal has always been and will continue to be to help the media in any way we can. We strive to be as accommodating as possible in aiding both the local and national media in their coverage of the team.”

The Dillman Award is presented in honor of the late, great Minnesota North Stars public relations guru Dick Dillman. The Dillman committee is chaired by Dillman’s daughter, Lisa Dillman, and features a voting panel of senior PHWA members.

Previous Dillman Award winners:

2020-21: Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins
2019-20: Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild
2018-19: Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames
2017-18: Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars
2016-17: Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild
2015-16: Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames
2014-15 Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars
2013-14 Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks
2012-13: Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks
2011-12: Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators
2010-11: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks
2009-10: Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks
2008-09: Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks
2007-08: Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks
2006-07: Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks

PHWA announces 2022 Masterton Trophy nominees

The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) is pleased to announce the 2022 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominees.

Each of the PHWA’s 32 local chapters submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.”

The top three vote-getters, as determined by a membership-wide runoff, will be designated as finalists. The Masterton Trophy will be awarded, along with the other NHL major awards, between Games 3 & 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The following are this year’s nominees:

Anaheim — Ryan Getzlaf: In his 17th and final NHL season, Ryan Getzlaf is ending it in the way that he came in – playing a hard, physical game honest in its manner and execution while resuming his status as the greatest playmaking center in franchise history. The 36-year-old Ducks star washed away the bitter taste of a joyless 2020-21 season played mostly without fans. He did that with a great start to 2021-22 that included becoming Anaheim’s all-time leading scorer and surpassing the 1,000-point milestone. A foot injury hobbled him in the second half, but it didn’t diminish his influence on young linemate Troy Terry and his breakout 36-goal season.

Arizona — Andrew Ladd: Injuries and age limited Ladd to 30 NHL games over the past three seasons (four over the past two). He spent most of that time either rehabbing, playing in the AHL, or stewing on his fate. Off-ice sessions with mental skills coach Dan Leffelaar and on-ice work with skills coach Adam Oates altered his outlook and his game. Ladd has played 49 games for the Coyotes this season, totaling seven goals and 11 points.

Boston — Jake DeBrusk: Despite a challenging last few seasons, the 25-year-old DeBrusk has persevered to play some of the best hockey of his career after an uncomfortable trade request was made public in December. He spoke to teammates on Dec. 1 and told them the honest truth, with Taylor Hall revealing DeBrusk told them his “career was at a crossroads.” DeBrusk scored the next night, went quiet through the holidays, and a trade never materialized. He busted out with eight goals in an eight-game stretch and even though he signed a two-year extension with the Bruins on trade deadline day just to take the fear of his qualifying offer off the table for interested teams, GM Don Sweeney still wasn’t able to find a taker. Through it all, DeBrusk has notched 23 goals – his best output in four seasons – and is knocking on the door of a career-high in points, and perhaps a fresh start elsewhere this summer.

Buffalo — Kyle Okposo: This 33-year-old alternate captain has had a rebirth on the ice with 19 goals in his first 70 games after scoring just two last season. He’s overcome injuries, including the severe concussion issues that landed him in a neuro ICU in April 2017. But mostly he’s become a pillar in the dressing room, leading the cadre of young Sabres and even presenting the player of the game sword to broadcaster Rick Jeanneret after his banner raising night on April 1.

Calgary — Chris Tanev: While Tanev had some tough luck with injuries during his stint in Vancouver, he hasn’t missed a single game in his two seasons with the Flames. That certainly doesn’t mean that the durable, dependable defenseman isn’t often playing through pain. The 32-year-old is a mentor to his blue-line partners, a respected leader in the locker room, and the sort of underrated player that you appreciate more and more when you see him in action every night. He is also a fearless shot-blocker, consistently sacrificing his body to help out his goaltender. Flames starter Jacob Markstrom showed his appreciation this season with a mask that includes a tribute to Tanev’s mostly toothless hockey smile.

Carolina — Antti Raanta: On his fourth team in nine NHL seasons, Raanta has returned to the form that made him a top-10 goalie in the league. Raanta’s career has at times been derailed by injuries, but the 32-year-old from Rauma, Finland, has stayed healthy in his first season in Carolina and helped the Hurricanes to the top of the Metropolitan Division with fellow goaltender Frederick Andersen. It’s the first season Raanta has played since the death of his father, Pekka, who would text Raanta before every game with advice and encouragement.

Chicago — Dylan Strome: It would have been hard to blame Dylan Strome if he pouted. If he stewed. If he became a problem in the locker room. If he demanded a trade. The No. 3 overall pick in 2015 — behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — had fallen out of Jeremy Colliton’s lineup completely. And new coach Derek King didn’t exactly warm up to him right away, making him a healthy scratch even after games in which he produced. Already labeled a bust once in Arizona, Strome was flirting with the title again. But he persevered, worked on his defensive game, and patiently waited for his chance to get back in the lineup, all while remaining, by all accounts, a model teammate. And despite being scratched 13 times in the first half of the season, Strome put up 18 goals and 21 assists in a 40-game span after Jan. 4, re-establishing himself as a top-six player in the NHL.

Colorado — Jack Johnson: Going into the season, Johnson said that retirement isn’t always a choice: Sometimes no one is willing to give you a shot. But the Avalanche signed Johnson to a professional tryout agreement, and the veteran defenseman clawed his way into a roster spot. The 35-year-old, who Pittsburgh bought out in 2020 and who missed most of last season with the Rangers due to injury, has played in more than 90 percent of the league-best Avalanche’s games, reaching the career 1,000-game mark in March.

Columbus — Justin Danforth: Undersized and overlooked his entire career, Danforth, an Oshawa, Ont., native, finally reached the NHL with the Blue Jackets this season at 28 years old. He turned 29 in March. His was a truly unique path to the world’s top league. Snubbed by the major U.S. college programs, Danforth attended tiny Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., just as the school was beginning Division I competition. After four years at Sacred Heart (2013-17), Danforth spent two years bouncing around the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres organizations on minor-league deals, playing more games in the ECHL (47) than the AHL (21). Then it was off to Europe, which is where Danforth’s pro career bloomed and the thought of playing in the NHL — a pipedream since his youth — started to become more realistic. The Blue Jackets signed him to a two-way contract last spring. He was recalled from AHL Cleveland and made his NHL debut on Nov. 15 vs. Detroit, quickly becoming a lineup regular. On the night he debuted, his coaches from Sacred Heart traveled to Columbus to bear witness. He’s the only from that program to play in the NHL.

Dallas – Tyler Seguin: Seguin, 30, is playing in his first full season after undergoing both hip and knee surgeries following the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Seguin played on a torn labrum in his hip during the playoff run, an injury that required surgery in the offseason. What was supposed to be a five-month recovery turned into much more for Seguin, who also had to undergo a procedure on his knee afterward. Seguin played three games for the Stars during the 2020-21 season and has missed just one game this season. As of April 15, Seguin has 32 points in his last 39 games.

Detroit — Marc Staal: At 35 years old, Staal remains a stalwart presence on the back end, where his size and calm demeanor provides stability. Staal plays smart and effectively (he’s the only Wing who has played more than 60 games and retained a plus rating). He appeared in his 1,000th game on March 12, and is on pace to play 73 games this season, embodying perseverance and consistency in the twilight of his career.

Edmonton — Kris Russell: Nobody in the history of the National Hockey League has blocked more shots than Edmonton Oilers defenceman Kris Russell,. He blocked career shot No. 1,999 earlier this season to take over the all-time lead in that category, and at the time of this writing remains the only NHL player ever to exceed 2,000 shots blocked. The 34-year-old Caroline, Alberta native entered the NHL as an offensive threat, coming off a 69-point season in his final year of junior hockey. But he quickly realized that, if he was going to have a lengthy career, the 5-10, 170-pounder was going to have to channel his farming roots and make his living in the dirty areas of the game. Russell passed the 900-game mark this season and continues to block shots with reckless abandon.

Florida — Anthony Duclair: Duclair bounced around the NHL — playing for five teams by the age of 25 — before finding a home with the Florida Panthers. Duclair signed a “prove-it” one-year deal with the Panthers and was one of the team leaders in helping Florida turn its fortunes around in 2021. The Panthers then signed him to a three-year extension where he has had a career season in a record-breaking year for the Panthers. Duclair goes into Friday as a first-time 30-goal scorer with 54 points in 65 games. Off the ice, Duclair is one of the founding members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and has headed up the Panthers’ team initiatives including wrapping their sticks in special tape which reads ‘Racism Has No Place in Hockey’ as well as wearing anti-racism t-shirts to games.

Los Angeles — Blake Lizotte: Lizotte arrived in Los Angeles as an unheralded college free agent from St. Cloud State University. Despite the depth of the Kings’ forward prospects pool, Lizotte has established himself as the mainstay of the “energy” line by coupling his high hockey IQ with a tenacious style. Blake established career-highs in goals, faceoff-win percentage, and hits this season to earn a two-year contract extension.

Minnesota — Jared Spurgeon: Originally drafted by the New York Islanders with the No. 156 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, they opted not to sign the undersized blue liner. From there, the Wild invited Spurgeon to their training camp in 2010, and well, the rest is history. He turned heads at that tryout, earned an entry-level contract with the Wild, and after a brief stint in the minors, made his NHL debut a couple of months later on his 21st birthday. He’s slowly emerged as the face of the franchise since then, playing more than 750 games with the Wild, and succeeding Mikko Koivu as the second permanent captain in franchise history. In his new role, Spurgeon has helped usher in a new era for the Wild, making everyone feel welcome with his inclusive demeanor.

Montreal — Carey Price: The Canadiens announced last July 23 that Carey Price had knee surgery and would require 10-12 weeks to recover. On Sept. 23, then-coach Dominique Ducharme said Price should be ready for the first game of the season. Except that recovery took much longer than anticipated. At age 34, with a long history of injuries, playing a position that is tough on the knees, Price suffered numerous setbacks, to the point where he even admitted in late January that his ability to continue his playing career was in question. Price also showed courage in October by seeking the help of the NHLPA/NHL player assistance program to help battle a problem with substance use. This obviously delayed his recovery from knee surgery. On April 15, with the Canadiens near the bottom of the NHL standings, Price played his first game of the season.

Le 23 juillet dernier, le Canadien annonçait que Carey Price avait subi une opération à un genou et qu’il en aurait pour 10 à 12 semaines de rééducation. Le 23 septembre Dominique Ducharme annonçait que Price devrait être prêt pour le premier match de la saison. Sauf que la rééducation a été plus longue que prévu. À 34 ans, avec de lourds antécédents médicaux, à une position dure pour les genoux, Price a subi de nombreux reculs, au point où il a lui-même admis que la suite de sa carrière était incertaine. Price a aussi fait preuve de courage en s’inscrivant, en octobre, au programme d’aide de la LNH et de l’AJLNH afin de combattre un problème de consommation. La démarche l’a évidemment forcé à prendre une pause dans sa rééducation. C’est finalement le 15 avril que Price a disputé son premier match de la saison.

Nashville — Mark Borowiecki: Borowiecki suffered a panic attack during an early-season game in 2020-21, his first season with the Predators. The 32-year-old veteran defenseman has used his platform to promote the importance of mental health. “I just think it’s important for guys to know that you can still be this tough guy in the NHL and this archetypal masculine athlete, but you can stay on top of this stuff. It’s only going to benefit you,” Borowiecki said.

New Jersey — Nico Hischier: Hischier had a trying 2020-21 season, from a broken leg during pre-training camp preparations to a COVID-19 diagnosis to taking a deflected puck in the face that resulted in a sinus fracture. Hischier, one of the youngest captains in the NHL, rebounded this season with not only a career-high in goals and points but also by continuing to play an honest, fearless style of hockey that has made him a natural leader in New Jersey.

NY Islanders — Zdeno Chara: This 6-9, 250 defenseman has shown both perseverance and dedication to ice hockey by playing into his 24th NHL season at age 45, returning to the team that drafted him in 1996 and where he spent his first four seasons. Devoted to his physical fitness routine, Chara broke Chris Chelios’ previous NHL record for defensemen by playing in his 1,652nd regular-season game on Feb. 24 and has dressed for 68 of the Islanders’ first 77 games while averaging 18:40 of ice time. Coaches and teammates rave about Chara’s pure love of the sport as a reason he keeps going and they also rave about his leadership and mentorship, particularly of third-year defenseman Noah Dobson, who has set career highs in goals, assists, and games this season. Chara can constantly be seen talking to Dobson on the bench, instructing him on the finer points of the game. Chara has always played a physical game but constantly shows sportsmanship, particularly after fights, patting his opponent to check to see if he’s all right or simply telling him he did a good job.

NY Rangers — Chris Kreider: Kreider has strung together a career season at age 30 and in his 10th year in the NHL, leading the Rangers by a significant margin in goals (50 and counting). Having been a streaky scorer his entire NHL career, Kreider transformed into a consistent producer this season who is just as noticeable without the puck as he is with it. Kreider has been viewed as the Rangers captain without the ‘C.’ Instead, the Massachusetts native has been at the heart of the six-alternate-captain group. After overcoming a blood clot that led to a rib resection in 2017, Kreider has seemingly never taken another game for granted and plays as such.

Ottawa — Anton Forsberg: Over the past 12 months, Forsberg has been the epitome of resilience and dedication. The netminder was placed on waivers by three different clubs last season — Edmonton, Carolina, and Winnipeg. With his NHL future on precarious footing, he landed in Ottawa in March of 2021 and has since firmly established himself as a consistent and dependable presence in the crease for Ottawa. For his efforts, he recently signed a three-year contract extension with the Senators, a testament to his ability to overcome a period of uncertainty to establish himself as a full-time NHL goaltender.

Philadelphia — Kevin Hayes: This 29-year-old center had two abdominal surgeries before the season. In January, he had another procedure to drain fluid from the adductor region. That procedure was for an infection in his groin area. Because of the medical issues, Hayes has been in and out of the lineup all season, and he has18 points in 20 games since returning to the lineup on March 5. He has dedicated the season to his brother, Jimmy, a former NHL player who died suddenly on Aug. 23. He has also increased his leadership duties since long-time captain Claude Giroux was traded to Florida on March 19. In short, he has become a leader on and off the ice despite a year filled with heartbreak.

Pittsburgh — Brian Boyle: Boyle, 37, continues to display the attributes that made him a deserving Masterton winner while with the Devils. A Cancer survivor, Boyle did not play in the NHL during the shortened 2020-21 season, and many presumed his career at the top level was over. But he parlayed a tryout camp contract with the Penguins into a regular role in Pittsburgh’s bottom six, serving coach Mike Sullivan — very much a Boyle advocate dating to their days with the Rangers — as a trusted defensive specialist, leading one of the NHL’s best penalty kills a season after the Penguins were among the poorer clubs at denying opposing power-play goals. Boyle quickly won over the Penguins’ locker room and has filled a valuable leadership role.

St. Louis —Vladimir Tarasenko: Tarasenko underwent three separate surgeries on his left shoulder in a span of 28 months. Many thought he’d never be the same player again. He requested a trade and Blues GM Doug Armstrong found no takers. The Seattle Kraken took a pass on him in the expansion draft. Tarasenko is still a member of the Blues and the club couldn’t be happier. After playing just 34 games in 2019-20 and ‘20-21, the 30-year-old is the team leader in goals and points, and he’s set a new career-high in assists.

San Jose — Brent Burns: “He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever dealt with.” That’s what Bob Boughner said recently of Burns, and that’s why Burns, in his age-36 season, is on pace to play over 2,120 minutes. That would put him in the top-five of most-played 36-plus skaters since the NHL started officially tracking ice time in 1998-99. Burns is also on pace to be the only NHL player to top over 2,100 minutes played this year.

Seattle — Jaden Schwartz: Jaden Schwartz was coming off a difficult year in which he struggled through injury and the unexpected death of his father. He emerged as a leader of an expansion Kraken squad, sitting second in total points with 20 in 29 games before suffering a Dec. 29 hand injury against Philadelphia. Schwartz underwent surgery on the hand and wound up missing more than two months. But he returned in March against Washington and played in eight more games before an upper-body injury effectively finished his season.

Tampa Bay — Alex Killorn: Killorn, 32, broke his fibula in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, but planned on returning for a Game 6 or Game 7 if needed following surgery to insert a rod in his leg. The veteran wing bounced back with one of the best seasons of his career, entering Saturday with a career-high 54 points and just his second 20-plus goal season. Killorn has been a consistent part of the leadership group for several years and certainly displays the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. As former teammate Blake Coleman once put it, “He’s got his fingerprints all over this team. There’s not many things he doesn’t do for us.” Killorn has been active in the community over the years, with his “Dock Talk” Instagram jetski show raising more than $50,000, which all went to the Hillsborough Education Fund. He also co-hosted with Ryan McDonagh a “Jam Kancer in the Kan” KanJam tournament a couple of years ago, and that event raised $102,000 for the Adolescent and Young Adult program at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center. Killorn was also the Tampa chapter’s Masterton nominee in 2020.

Toronto — Ondrej Kase: Kase will not give up his NHL dream despite a series of head injuries. When misfortune is not sidelining the 26-year-old Czech winger, he has kept up a seven-year battle to stay in the lineup, that began as a seventh-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks (205th overall) in 2014. When active, he’s recognized as one of the league’s top two-way forwards, averaging .48 points a game in his time with the Ducks, Boston Bruins, and this past season as a free agent with the Maple Leafs. Yet to play a full season in the league and held to just three games in the 2020-21 campaign with Boston because of concussions, this year began with great promise. Kase earned a spot on a competitive Toronto team and praise for both his defensive work, shot-blocking, and cashing in scoring chances. Before his latest concussion on March 19 in a game against Nashville, in which he had to be helped off the ice and had to be talked out of trying to return by medical staff, he had goals in three of the past four games. Kase hopes to return before or during the playoffs.

Vancouver — Luke Schenn: This veteran defenceman has proven to be a calming presence this season on the Vancouver blueline. He’s spent much of the season alongside Quinn Hughes and hasn’t looked out of place, a strong statement of how hard he’s worked in recent seasons to reinvent his game. He’s still got a hard edge, but his defensive positioning and his first pass make him a player who, at 32, remains essential to this lineup.

Vegas — Jack Eichel: Eichel has shown perseverance and dedication to the sport, returning to play at a high level following an 11-month absence due to a neck surgery never before performed on an NHL player. Eichel helped pave the way for others, such as Tyler Johnson, to consider the artificial disc replacement surgery as an option, and set an example for players around the league in standing his ground on players’ medical rights.

Winnipeg — Josh Morrissey: Morrissey overcame the off-season death of his father Tom to cancer to put together one of the best seasons of his NHL career. Morrissey raised more than $3,700 for Cancer Care by auctioning off a “game worn” purple velvet blazer as a tribute to his dad, who loved fashion. Morrissey is active in the community, serving as an ambassador for The Dream Factory and hosting The Josh Morrissey Classic, an event that raised nearly $300,000 for Manitoba children battling life-threatening diseases during the first three years. Morrissey also started his own foundation called Glass Half Full Foundation, which helps raise funds for various Mental Health programs in Winnipeg and Calgary. Not only has Morrissey exuded the qualities of perseverance and dedication, but he’s also set career highs for goals (12) and points (34) while serving as an alternate captain.

Washington — Nicklas Backstrom: Nicklas Backstrom last offseason noticed problems with his left hip, which was surgically repaired in 2015. It was enough to keep him off the ice for training camp and the start of the season. While turning 34, Backstrom went through a grueling rehab process off the ice before he could even start skating again in the hopes of returning to the Washington Capitals. Backstrom missed Washington’s first 28 games before making his season debut in mid-December. The veteran Swede in March recorded his 1,000th career point and remains at almost a point-a-game rate in his NHL career.

Stevens remembered by PHWA members

By W.G. Ramirez

PHWA Social Media Coordinator

Countless stories from PHWA members revealed the late Neil Stevens, a distinguished sportswriter whose humility and kindness were infectious among his peers and the sport of hockey.

“It says a lot about his immense writing talent that he was recognized with the Elmer Ferguson Award despite the fact that the last thing he ever craved was attention,” The Athletic senior columnist Pierre LeBrun said. “To me, he was the people’s hockey writer.

“The man we called Loose Leaf was a joy to be around.”

Stevens, a multi-sport Hall of Fame honoree in hockey and lacrosse who spent more than three decades (34 years) with the Canadian Press, died after a battle with cancer at 74 years old.

Stevens covered eight Olympic Games, 20 Stanley Cup finals, four Canada Cup hockey tournaments, 22 world figure skating championships, and eight National Lacrosse League Champions Cup games – just to name a few – before retiring in 2008.

“A mentor to some, a friend to all, and a Hall of Fame chronicler of our sport, Neil Stevens left his mark on so many across the hockey world,” PHWA president Frank Seravalli said. “We mourn his passing, but the stories told by those who knew him best will stand the test of time, knowing they won’t be forgotten.”

Like LeBrun’s recollection of Stevens’ coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals.

“He made a point at every Stanley Cup Final to ask players which coaches they remembered from their youth and wanted to thank,” LeBrun recalled. “He would write a story assembling all those coaches’ names. It was such a Neil thing to think of. ”

Away from the rink, LeBrun added, Stevens appreciated life, good music, and a good dive bar with media peers.

Longtime Canadian sportswriter for The Globe and Mail David Shoalts shared a story from the 2001 World Junior Hockey Championship in Moscow, where media members made The Hungry Duck their “headquarters” for postgame gatherings

“In addition to live music, it had a lot of Westerners from the oil business as customers,” Shoalts remembered. “Also on hand were a large number of attractive young women, who called themselves “students.” They were interested in a share of the oil money and for $100 U.S. dollars they would gladly accompany any takers home.”

Shortly after Stevens, Shoalts and others got there the first night, a couple of those “‘students’ sidled up to” the reporters with one of them asking Stevens in a thick Russian accent, “‘Vould’ you like some company?”

“Loose Leaf looked up and said, “Sure. It’ll cost you 75 bucks,” Shoalts said. “The ‘students’ must have heard the recess bell because they scattered.”

Sportsnet senior columnist Mark Spector relived a moment during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when the humanitarian in Stevens surfaced.

“Loose decided he had seen enough of a group of caged kangaroos outside the media center,” Spector said. “Alas, his attempt to cut through the fencing was thwarted when the exterior layer was found to be electrified. Neil the Emancipator, we called him, once he got over what was a sizeable jolt.”

Surely not the jolt of electricity Stevens gave the hockey world, and certainly not the jolt felt this past week when he was called home.

“I have so many stories,” LeBrun said. “But what’s consistent was his love of life. His ability to enjoy the little moments on the road.

“There was only one Loose Leaf.”