While the Carolina Hurricanes 2009-10 NHL season fell short of the expectations we brought to the table back in October, that doesn’t mean there weren’t many bright spots for the players and fans this season. Canes Country thought we’d look back at some individuals whose performances were exemplary, and whose efforts and skill inspired us to keep watching. Using the traditional team and annual NHL Awards as a guide, Cory, Bob and I have each nominated a player from the Carolina roster for nine of these awards. Over the next week, we will ask you, our insightful readers, to vote for and tell us why you think one Hurricane player deserves our recognition for a job well done
The Masterton Trophy
What is it?
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.
The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers' Association in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited, to a high degree, the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, after an injury sustained during a hockey game.
Who received the Masterton Trophy over the last 3 years?
The Hurricanes nominee this year is Rod Brind`Amour. After the jump, I've put up a 5-minute youtube video from TSN on Bill Masterton's story, originally aired in 2007. I'd recommend watching it before you vote. Then see the case Bob, Cory and Hockeymom each make for their nominations.
And the nominees are:
Bob nominates: Rod Brind`Amour
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Anyone who has watched Rod Brind'Amour over the past season has noticed that he has had a tough one. He scored an all time low 19 points and posted a career worst plus/minus. He relinquished his captaincy in midseason, a changing of the guard with very unusual timing.
He was shuffled to the fourth line and was even healthy scratched one game, quite possibly for the first time in his career.
During all of this, the former captain never complained once and always showed the utmost sportsmanship. He helped the new captain during the transition, making the change as seamless as possible. He continued to mentor the younger players and he continued working hard, he persevered.
It would have been easy for the center to take a few games off near the end of the year, but he never gave up. He never took a shift off. And he actually got better at the end of the season.
While his on-ice performance might have declined, his off-ice routine never has. Brind'Amour has always been known as being the first guy at the rink and the last one to leave. He's the one the other players look to, to train with in the offseason. He's the one who reserves ice time at the Rec Zone in the summer for skating sessions. He's the one who runs the unofficial (pre-camp) training camp which has appropriately been nicknamed "Camp Brind'Amour".
Even after injuring himself in the last home game of the year, he was found working out after the game.
It's hard to imagine that anyone else on the Canes is more dedicated to the game of hockey than this proud warrior.
Cory Lavalette nominates: Erik Cole
|2009 - Erik Cole||40||11||5||16||-9||29||2||0||1||0||81||13.6|
Is Cole the same player he was in 2005 — you know, before Brooks Orpik's hit from behind left the U.S. Olympian and emerging elite power forward with a broken neck? No, he isn't. But that doesn't devalue just how hard Cole has worked to keep himself in the NHL. The 2009-10 season probably won't be remembered fondly by Cole — he struggled with injuries and his team faltered to the bottom of the standings. But Cole didn't let his mysterious midseason upper body ailment keep him out of the lineup. Yes, he missed more than 30 games in a row in the middle of the season — on top of 10 missed at the beginning of the year when he broke his leg in the season's second game — but he came back the day before the trade deadline without much to gain and toughed it out.
We can speculate until the cows come home about what Cole's injury was — the NHL's hush-hush injury policy keeps all but the most obvious ailments quiet — but it's a fair guess it was somehow related to the ongoing neck/neurological issues he has from the hit that occurred more than four years ago. If that was the case, a lot of players would've thrown in the towel on not only the meaningless games remaining in the season, but also their career. But Cole continues to play on, hoping he can regain part of the form that made him one of the league's most feared power forwards. Down the stretch this year, there were flashes of the speed that made Cole so dangerous earlier in his career, but his inability to finish those moments were frustrating to fans who knew what the Cole of old was capable of. Don't think for a moment Cole doesn't feel that frustration, too — but instead of running away from it, he is facing it head on, on the ice. It's hard to top that kind of perseverance and dedication, in my book.
Hockeymomof2 nominates Jussi Jokinen.
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I suggest Jokinen in the context of the last couple years of his hockey career, where he overcame and persevered despite remarkable challenges both professionally and personally, responding with career-best numbers and consistent displays of effort and dedication on the ice this season. [consistent is a key word there].
While this trophy is often associated with those coming back from severe injury, Jokinen demonstrated similar fortitude. He overcame the difficulties of doubts in his future in the NHL when put on waivers twice by the Lightning in 2009. His father in Finland, who was his childhood coach, died in March 2009 after a 6-month illness, shortly after Jokinen was traded to the Hurricanes at the 2009 deadline. Jokinen became a hero in Carolina with his string of clutch goals during the Stanley Cup playoff series in April and May. He had shoulder surgery over the summer. After putting up exceptional stats confirming his remarkable hockey sense and scoring touch in the first half of the 2009-10 season, he was inexplicably snubbed by Team Finland for the 2010 Olympic games. However, he never dropped a beat or displayed bitterness, and finished the season with a career year at the top of the Hurricanes roster with 30 goals, and second only to the team's young captain, Eric Staal, with 65 points. One of Carolina's fan favorites as well, Jokinen's perseverance and dedication to the sport of hockey certainly has inspired us all.