To be honest, when it came to the Masterton Trophy, I had to look it up to make sure I was barking up the right tree. I knew it had to do with determination and perseverance, or something like that, but I had to make sure (it's "perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication"). With that clarified, I figured everyone would have their own notion of what that means, but I also recalled that it usually goes to players that have fought back from serious injuries or illnesses, so I had that thought in mind with my ballot.
My picks and rationale after the jump.
1st Place - Manny Malhotra
2nd Place - Joffrey Lupul
3rd Place - Max Pacioretty
For those of you with very short memories, Pacioretty was bouncing back from this "legal" hit. It was an incredibly frightening moment, so the fact that Pacioretty was able to return and have the best year of his career was a pretty great story. One leeetle caveat with Sir Pacioretty...he doesn't really have a reputation for the "sportsmanship" part, even after the injury. He's a scrapper, and I respect that, but scrappers don't get sportsmanship-related trophies. Lupul's selection comes after another injury-filled season, albeit one that he managed to make into his best. Lupul's career has been about perseverance, and though some of the credit goes to Phil Kessel, it was still a remarkable year. Malhotra for me is a clear winner, a guy who had a career-threatening eye injury, fought back to make an appearance in last year's playoffs, and returned this year...only to continue to receive the toughest assignments on the Vancouver Canucks. He actually played his most games since 2006-07, committed only 7 minors during the regular season, and finished 3rd in the league in faceoff win percentage. I can't have anything but the utmost respect for that kind of comeback - what a player.