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Masterton - Messed Up Trophy Of The Year

The NHL Awards were Wednesday night.  I disagreed with some award choices and agreed with some others.  The award that made the least sense is the Masterton Trophy this season.

I thought that it is a given that any player who wins a trophy in the 2010/11 season would have actually played in the 2010/11 season.  I suppose that is a little less obvious when the award is a lifetime achievement award, which to some degree the Masterton Trophy is, but this is a first.  Ian Laperriere of the Philadelphia Flyers won the award and he didn’t play at all this season.

Laperriere was a veteran of over 1000 NHL games played and five NHL teams when he took a puck to the face and suffered a concussion in the 2009/10 playoffs.  He came back too early and played a few of the final playoff games in 2010 without scoring any points.  He suffered further concussion symptoms over the summer and was unable to play come 2010/11.  The Philadelphia Flyers placed him on the longterm injured reserve.  While Laperriere worked hard to try to come back and served as a mentor to some players off-ice, the comeback never happened.  The Philadelphia Flyers salary cap room never allowed it and he was never pronounced healthy enough.  Despite not playing at all, he somehow found himself the Masterton Trophy winner.

This sets a bad precedent.  Players should have to play to win awards.  Although it seems unlikely to occur, if Laperriere makes an actual NHL comeback in the future wouldn’t that have been the time to give him the award?

The NHL is not without other worthy candidates for the Masterton Trophy.  Many of them did not make their way through a convoluted nomination system.  The Masterton Trophy nomination system is unlike the other awards.  Each team’s local media nominates a player as the team nominee.  Imagine if this was done with other awards.  Does anyone really care who the New York Islanders Vezina Trophy nominee or the Dallas Stars Calder Trophy nominee?  Neither have any business in serious discussion of either award.  In some cases teams have two or more candidates who are much better candidates than these guys ever would be and one is dismissed at the team level.

The team level nominations did not go so well in some cases.  Local media select a player who is usually a longterm member of their team that they want to see get some recognition.  They tend to overlook qualified players when they are newcomers to a team and their qualifications came in other cities.

Two such players existed this season.  Neither received their team nominations.  Kurtis Foster of the Edmonton Oilers is the player I would have picked for the award.  He overcame a serious leg injury which many thought would end his career.  He made his comeback late in the 2008/09 season with the Minnesota Wild.  That summer he signed a one year contract as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  He was a Masterton nominee but did not win the award.  During the 2010 playoffs (after Masterton voting had occurred) his infant daughter died (Jose Theodore won the 2010 Masterton when his infant son died).  Foster moved on to the Edmonton Oilers for the 2010/11 season and his past seemed to be overlooked by the Oiler media because it happened elsewhere.  The Oiler media instead chose Ryan Jones. 

Fernando Pisani of the Chicago Blackhawks was another solid choice.  His career has twice been in doubt due to cases of ulcerative colitis.  The first in 2007/08 and the second in 2009/10.  With his career in doubt, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2010/11 season.  He had a successful season as a checking forward but because his problems occurred in Edmonton, the Chicago media overlooked them and selected Ryan Johnson as their Masterton nominee.

The media then votes on the players who remain as team selections and a winner and two other nominees are selected.  This year they chose Ian Laperriere, who didn’t play any games, Ray Emery, who overcame a serious hip condition that jeopardized his career and played six games for the Anaheim Ducks and Daymond Langkow who overcame spinal cord damage from an injury that jeopardized his career late in 2009/10 to play four games this season.  All of these comeback stories seem to be selected too early (and it is unclear that there will be a Laperriere comeback).  The overlooked comeback stories of Pisani and Foster are more mature in that they played the full season this year and would have been better picks.

The fact that the 2010/11 Masterton Trophy winner didn’t play any games in 2010/11 makes his selection highly questionable.  There were better players available for nomination who didn’t get through a convoluted nomination system.  The Masterton Trophy does not release final voting results.  If they did, I am sure we would find that no player received a majority of votes.  There is no consensus among the voters.  I am sure Laperriere was the winner with a plurality of players getting votes.  I am sure many players who could have won never got their team nominations.  The Masterton Trophy this year wound up as a mixed up process where the best players were not selected.

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Lindas1st's avatar

I thought that it is a given that any player who wins a trophy in the 2010/11 season would have actually played in the 2010/11 season. 

Yeah right.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 06/25/11 at 06:17 PM ET


The award isn’t given to the player who has the best comeback of the season. It’s given to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.”

While recently it’s been given to a player who came back from a serious injury, that has not always been the case.

Henri Richard won it due to his outstanding career. Butch Goring won it because he was a small man who worked hard to earn his career. Blake Dunlop won it because he it took him nearly 10 years to have a breakthrough 87 point season.

Lanny McDonald. Doug Jarvis. Dave Taylor. Adam Graves. Those are some other names who won the trophy not due to overcoming an injury but because of their lengthy careers and dedication to the game.

And just to add one more - Gord Kluzak won it because he tried to come back from knee injuries but only managed one game.

Your conception of what the trophy should be awarded for is biased to recent trends, not the overall history of the trophy.

That this award was given to a man who has done so much for his teams, his teammates, his family, his community and more during his career is outstanding. He is exactly the kind of player who should win this award.

Posted by Shane from Saskatoon on 06/25/11 at 06:47 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

It is true that the award is ill-defined and that comes from the fact the NHL wanted to memorialize Bill Masterton and they didn’t really have a conception for an award.

The official definition of the award “perceverence, dedication and sportsmanship” is ignored and practise shows it is for a player who overcomes a significant hardship to continue his career and make an impact.  If we are to believe the official definition of the award was used, how do we explain the fact that Laperriere had 1956 PIMs in 1083 career games.  That makes him the 56th most penalized player in NHL history and you want to tell me that he won an award partly for his sportsmanship?  That is ridiculous.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/25/11 at 06:55 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

Henri Richard won it due to his outstanding career. Butch Goring won it because he was a small man who worked hard to earn his career

Pointing out previous wrongs doesn’t correct this one.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 06/25/11 at 07:10 PM ET


It has been awarded 45 times. 21 times it has gone to someone who did not overcome an injury, but instead embodied one or more of the aspects of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.

While Laperriere may have racked up a lot of penalty minutes - as did Roberts, Daneyko, Neely, Kluzak… - his other qualities more than qualify him for this award, including from a historical perspective.

Since it’s not a statistics-based award, it will always be debatable. But to say this choice is ridiculous is a tad hyperbolic.

Posted by Shane from Saskatoon on 06/25/11 at 07:16 PM ET


Pointing out previous wrongs doesn’t correct this one.

Disagreeing with a choice doesn’t make it a wrong choice, especially on a subjective award. And pointing out the myriad of times it went to a non-injured player seems to establish a trend, not a couple pockets of wrong.

Posted by Shane from Saskatoon on 06/25/11 at 07:18 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

BTW, this does look very odd :

SeasonLg Player 5 Age Team Pos GP G A PTS +/- GP W L T/O GAA SV
2010-11 NHL Ian Laperriere 37 RW ————————————————————————-   
2009-10 NHL Jose Theodore 33 Washington Capitals G 47 0 2 2 0 47 30 7 7 2.81 .911
2008-09 NHL Steve Sullivan 34 Nashville Predators LW 41 11 21 32 2    
2007-08 NHL Jason Blake 34 Toronto Maple Leafs LW 82 15 37 52 -4    
2006-07 NHL Phil Kessel 19 Boston Bruins C 70 11 18 29 -12    
2005-06 NHL Teemu Selanne 35 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim RW 80 40 50 90 28    
2003-04 NHL Bryan Berard 26 Chicago Blackhawks D 58 13 34 47 -24    
2002-03 NHL Steve Yzerman 37 Detroit Red Wings C 16 2 6 8 6    
2001-02 NHL Saku Koivu 27 Montreal Canadiens C 3 0 2 2 0    
2000-01 NHL Adam Graves 32 New York Rangers LW 82 10 16 26 -16    
1999-00 NHL Ken Daneyko 35 New Jersey Devils D 78 0 6 6 13    
1998-99 NHL John Cullen 34 Tampa Bay Lightning C 4 0 0 0 -2    
1997-98 NHL Jamie McLennan 26 St. Louis Blues G 30 0 0 0 0 30 16 8 2 2.17 .903
1996-97 NHL Tony Granato 32 San Jose Sharks RW 76 25 15 40 -7    
1995-96 NHL Gary Roberts 29 Calgary Flames LW 35 22 20 42 15    
1994-95 NHL Pat LaFontaine 29 Buffalo Sabres C 22 12 15 27 2    
1993-94 NHL Cam Neely 28 Boston Bruins RW 49 50 24 74 12    
1992-93 NHL Mario Lemieux 27 Pittsburgh Penguins C 60 69 91 160 55    
1991-92 NHL Mark Fitzpatrick 23 New York Islanders G 30 0 2 2 0 30 11 13 5 3.20 .902
1990-91 NHL Dave Taylor 35 Los Angeles Kings RW 73 23 30 53 27    
1989-90 NHL Gord Kluzak 25 Boston Bruins D 8 0 2 2 4    
1988-89 NHL Tim Kerr 29 Philadelphia Flyers RW 69 48 40 88 -4    
1987-88 NHL Bob Bourne 33 Los Angeles Kings C 72 7 11 18 -31    
1986-87 NHL Doug Jarvis 31 Hartford Whalers C 80 9 13 22 0    
1985-86 NHL Charlie Simmer 31 Boston Bruins LW 55 36 24 60 12    
1984-85 NHL Anders Hedberg 33 New York Rangers RW 64 20 31 51 -15    
1983-84 NHL Brad Park 35 Detroit Red Wings D 80 5 53 58 -29    
1982-83 NHL Lanny McDonald 29 Calgary Flames RW 80 66 32 98 -2    
1981-82 NHL Glenn Resch 33 Colorado Rockies G 61 0 2 2 0 61 16 31 11 4.03
1980-81 NHL Blake Dunlop 27 St. Louis Blues C 80 20 67 87 16    
1979-80 NHL Al MacAdam 27 Minnesota North Stars LW 80 42 51 93 36    
1978-79 NHL Serge Savard 33 Montreal Canadiens D 80 7 26 33 46    
1977-78 NHL Butch Goring 28 Los Angeles Kings C 80 37 36 73 -4    
1976-77 NHL Ed Westfall 36 New York Islanders RW 79 14 33 47 21    
1975-76 NHL Rod Gilbert 34 New York Rangers RW 70 36 50 86 -8    
1974-75 NHL Don Luce 26 Buffalo Sabres C 80 33 43 76 61    
1973-74 NHL Henri Richard 37 Montreal Canadiens C 75 19 36 55 7    
1972-73 NHL Lowell MacDonald 31 Pittsburgh Penguins LW 78 34 41 75 37    
1971-72 NHL Bobby Clarke 22 Philadelphia Flyers C 78 35 46 81 22    
1970-71 NHL Jean Ratelle 30 New York Rangers C 78 26 46 72 28    
1969-70 NHL Pit Martin 26 Chicago Black Hawks C 73 30 33 63 22    
1968-69 NHL Ted Hampson 32 Oakland Seals C 76 26 49 75 -15    
1967-68 NHL Claude Provost 34 Montreal Canadiens RW 73 14 30 44 17

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 06/25/11 at 07:18 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

He didn’t play during the season.
It seems fairly obvious to win a 2010-2011 award you would have actually played during the 2010-2011 season.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 06/25/11 at 07:21 PM ET


This award’s meaningless. Daneyko won it for not getting any DUIs in 2000.

Posted by steviesteve on 06/25/11 at 07:39 PM ET


It seems fairly obvious to win a 2010-2011 award you would have actually played during the 2010-2011 season.

Yes, it would, except that it doesn’t actually say anything about PLAYING hockey, does it?

Posted by Garth on 06/25/11 at 09:44 PM ET


I just don’t understand why he gets an award for not retiring so his team can take advantage of LTIR

Posted by JBM on 06/25/11 at 10:13 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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