Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Another Masterton Mistake

The problem with the Masterton Trophy is nobody knows exactly what it is for.  Bill Masterton died in an NHL game in 1968 so the NHL decided to have a trophy in his honor.  They decided that perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship was a good list of qualities to look for in an award recipient.  That hasn't held true in practice.  The easiest of those qualities to quantify is sportsmanship.  Gary Roberts and Ken Daneyko have won this award and both are among the 25 highest career penalty minute totals of all time.  The NHL definition for this award doesn't hold very well.  In practice, I think the best definition for this award is the player who overcomes the biggest hardship to make the biggest impact on his team in the season in question.  That definition hasn't fit with practice perfectly as there have been some strange choices in the past.  Ian Laperriere won the Masterton Trophy in a season in which he didn't play a single game.  It can be hard to make sense of this award.

This year Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers won the award.  While he was deserving of a nomination, he was not the deserving winner of the award.  Moore took an 18 month leave of absence from the NHL to be with his wife who suffered from and eventually died from cancer.  He then made his return to the New York Rangers this season.  This was an emotional roller coaster for him.  The problem is other players had to endure emotional as well as physical roller coasters.  Those players deserved the Masterton Trophy.  My choice is Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Malhotra suffered a serious eye injury in 2011 that required several surgeries.  He came back to play in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals but wasn't ready.  He struggled through the 2011/12 season and nine games into the 2012/13 season he took the rest of the year off to rehab and presumably retire.  His contract with the Vancouver Canucks ended at the end of the 2013 season, so he entered 2013/14 with no team to play for.  Malhotra didn't give up.  He signed an AHL contract with the Charlotte Checkers and soon earned his way to the NHL with Carolina.  Malhotra was a valuable checking forward in Carolina this year. 

Malhotra has suffered from his eye injury for several seasons.  It looked like it was career ending but he kept his career going.  This is both an emotional and a physical turmoil that he had to overcome.  I think it is a far better case for a Masterton Trophy.

One problem with the Masterton Trophy is voting is never released.  We will never see if it was a close call or not.  We will never see how close Manny Malhotra came to winning.  I suspect a big part of the reason Dominic Moore won is that he plays in the large media market of New York and Malhotra plays in Carolina.  Thus there was more media attention to the bigger market player.  Had nothing but their locations been switched, I suspect Manny Malhotra would have won the Masterton Trophy this year.

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Laran's avatar

It’s obvious to everyone that the award is more focused on “perseverance” and “dedication” as opposed to “sportsmanship”.

Overcoming the long battle with sickness and then loss of your wife is FAR harder than overcoming an eye injury…

This has to be a joke…

Posted by Laran on 06/26/14 at 02:02 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

This has to be a jokeā€¦

Posted by Laran on 06/26/14 at 02:02 PM ET

You must be new around here. PSH is always deadly serious and that’s just a small part of what makes him so charming.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 06/26/14 at 02:11 PM ET


It seems to me that you are somehow trying to quantify emotional suffering vs. physical suffering & accompanying emotional suffering to prove your choice was the superior one.

Both men were worthy nominees. It isn’t necessary to disparage one over the other because you disagree with the voters.

Posted by mc keeper on 06/26/14 at 02:18 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

At least this year the complaint about the Masterton is more about the actual perseverance and dedication aspect rather than which player was more valuable to his team.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/26/14 at 02:28 PM ET

Chet's avatar

i NOW believe JJ is a hof blogger

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 06/26/14 at 02:39 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by Laran on 06/26/14 at 02:02 PM ET

Yes. It’s devastating, and it absolutely takes a physical toll.

Posted by awould on 06/26/14 at 02:58 PM ET


Only a true piece of garbage would write a blog entry about a guy who had to get over his wife’s death being undeserving of the award.


Posted by Garth on 06/26/14 at 03:08 PM ET


TPSH seems to enjoy making bold pronouncements, couched in arrogant language, to get a rise out of people.  And the fact he can hide behind anonymity in so doing makes him bold enough to suggest that a man who lost his wife and then came back to professional hockey, a demanding sport, and had a very successful year, is not worthy of a trophy awarded to players who have persevered through horrible circumstances. 

This time, TPSH, you have simply crossed the line and displayed incredible bad taste in attacking Dominic Moore as an unworthy winner.

Posted by ransacktheelder on 06/26/14 at 03:34 PM ET

Iggy_Rules's avatar

While the Pat Burns comment in the previous blog post was rather insensitive it seems a lot of posters let it slide. This post, however, is on a completely new level of insensitivity. The guy won because he happened to be in a bigger media market? The guy he beat was more deserving because his injury was more physical in nature? Really? You could have phrased this completely differently by saying something like this.

“Congratulations to Dominic Moore on winning the Masterton Trophy. Losing a spouse is never an easy thing and the league recognized his perseverance and dedication to the game, and deservedly so.

But there was another nominee who was not selected as the winner, though if I had a vote I would have given him the nod. Here are my reasons why…”

Once again I find myself wondering why an esteemed site with a stable of professional bloggers continues to support this particular blogger. Yes, I know I have the choice not to read it but that is not the issue here. The issue is that someone new to KK may end up reading a couple of this bloggers posts, get the impression that the rest of the site is on the same level professionally (read: rank amateur) and end up never returning. To be perfectly frank, I believe this particular blogger does more harm than good.

Posted by Iggy_Rules from Calgary, Canada on 06/26/14 at 11:44 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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