by PuckStopsHere on 11/11/08 at 04:01 PM ET
The Masterton Trophy is given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. In practise this means that a player who overcomes a significant handicap (injury, illness etc.) to continue his NHL career and make a significant impact on his team. This working definition is a more meaningful one than worrying about which player is more sportsmanlike.
By that definition, I think it is quite clear that Teppo Numminen of the Buffalo Sabres will likely win it this season, assuming he has any level of success with his team. Numminen is a solid defenceman with a good team. He plays about twenty minutes a night and has six points in 14 games played. He is even on the All Star ballot.
Numminen has had a long NHL career that started in 1988. He has appeared in three NHL All Star games. His career has been put on hold twice (once during the 2004/05 lockout season and once last season) due to open heart surgeries. Numminen has had a congenital heart murmur since childhood and was diagnosed with a dilated aorta in March 2004. Nevertheless, his career continues and he is a key contributor to the Buffalo defence.
Of all the NHL’s trophies, I think the safest bet at this point is that Teppo Numminen will win the Masterton Trophy. He certainly has overcome hardship to play in the NHL and he is a good player. Assuming no players come back from major injury or illness to play in the NHL and Numminen has a solid season; it should be hard for anyone else to win the Masterton this year.
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