by PuckStopsHere on 12/17/10 at 03:43 AM ET
The Masterton Trophy is officially given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. That definition is not too well kept by the voters. Nobody considers sportsmanship for this award. In practise, the award is given to the player who overcomes the biggest obstacle to continue his career and makes the biggest impact with his team.
I think the leader for this award this season is Kurtis Foster of the Edmonton Oilers. Foster broke his leg very badly in a race for an iced puck in 2007. He was out of hockey for over a year recovering. Many thought his career was over, but he made it back.
He played ten games at the end of the 2008/09 season with the Minnesota Wild. At the conclusion of the season, he became an unrestricted free agent. He signed a one year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning to continue his career. Last year with the Lightning he was their top scoring defenceman. This got him a nomination for the Masterton Trophy. He failed to win the award, as Jose Theodore of the Washington Capitals won it. Theodore won because he had overcome the death of his infant son.
Foster had a very similar situation in his life. In the time in between the Masterton voting and the award presentation, his infant daughter died. This would have made him the clear Masterton Trophy winner had it happened before the voting, as he was already a nominee because of his broken leg and he had a further misfortune to overcome, which was essentially equal to that of the award winner.
Foster has carried on his career this year as an Edmonton Oiler, as he signed a two year contract this past summer. He has 11 points so far this season and is a solid offensive defenceman.
Kurtis Foster has had a very tough road to keep his NHL career going. He overcame a broken leg that could have ended his career. He then had to overcome the death of his infant daughter. He has had to travel to play with three different NHL teams in the last three seasons. These are reasons that could have derailed an NHL career. This is what makes him a strong Masterton Trophy candidate.
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