The Vancouver Canucks didn't think it was safe for Manny Malhotra to play hockey anymore. But the 33-year-old center wasn't ready to hang up his skates, and after a successful tryout with the Carolina’s AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, he was signed for the balance of the 2013-14 season by the Hurricanes.
Malhotra — who suffered an eye injury when hit with a puck in 2011 — then continued to prove his doubters wrong, finishing the season with seven goals and six assists in 13 games and finishing second in the NHL in faceoff percentage at 59.4 percent. For his efforts, Malhotra was named one of three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given annually to the player that best exhibits perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr and New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore were name the other two finalists. Malhotra is just the second Carolina Hurricanes player to be named a finalist for the award: new GM Ron Francis was a finalist in 2002.
The award will be given out at the 2014 NHL Awards in June 24. Here is the release from the Hurricanes:
MALHOTRA NAMED A FINALIST FOR MASTERTON TROPHY
Winner to be announced June 20 at NHL Awards in Las Vegas
RALEIGH, NC – The National Hockey League today announced that Carolina Hurricanes Alternate Captain Manny Malhotra has been named as a finalist for the 2013-14 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Malhotra is one of three finalists along with New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr and New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore. The winner of the Masterton Trophy will be announced on Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network in the United States, and CBC in Canada.
The Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) named Malhotra as its nominee for Masterton Trophy earlier this month. The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL player best exemplifying the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected from a poll of the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season and a $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the winner.
Malhotra, 33, finished the 2013-14 season with a seven goals, six assists (13 points) and a team-best, and NHL second-best, 59.4 percent faceoff-win percentage in 69 games played with Carolina. The veteran center began the 2013-14 season on a professional tryout contract with the Hurricanes’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, before signing a one-year contract with the Hurricanes on Oct. 31.
Originally selected by the New York Rangers in the first round, seventh overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Malhotra has scored 115 goals and earned 176 assists in 933 career regular-season games with the Rangers, Dallas, Columbus, San Jose, Vancouver and Carolina. He is consistently one of the league’s best faceoff men, having finished the season ranked in the top six in the league six times since 2005-06, including three second-place finishes. Malhotra has led his teams in faceoff-win percentage in each of his last nine full seasons.
The PHWA presented the Masterton Trophy in 1968 to commemorate Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He died Jan. 15, 1968.