The Ottawa Senators chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has named Craig Anderson the team nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The trophy is given annually to the player who “best displays the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”. The local media for each team nominates a player, from whom three finalists are chosen to go the NHL Awards.
Anderson has had a fairly successful season on the ice, putting up a save percentage of .927 (6th among goalies with at least five games played) and a GAA of 2.32 (15th by the same criterion). He has four shutouts and has won 65% of his starts. He overtook Patrick Lalime for the most wins in team history earlier this season. The thing is that off the ice, Nicholle (his wife) was diagnosed with cancer. He took several leaves of absence to be with her during treatments. There was one notable game in Edmonton when he returned after Andrew Hammond went down with injury, shutting out the red-hot Oilers and earning the praise of Cam Talbot and other Oilers who stuck around to applaud him as the game’s first star.
For a while, the Masterton seemed to go to the player who overcame the most gruesome injury to return, but the league tried to convince voters to move away from that in recent years. Anderson’s nominee is an interesting case, in that a major illness was involved, but it was not to Anderson himself. I expect we’ll be seeing him in Vegas for the awards ceremony in June. My hope is that if he wins, Nicholle will come up on stage to say her own words as well. She too has displayed perseverance and dedication to hockey while going through this battle.