The 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy recipient is Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan.
The award is given annually to “the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”. This year’s nominees also included the Philadelphia Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom, and Dallas Stars’ Stephen Johns.
In November of 2019, Ryan left the Senators, and entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. Upon his return in February of 2020, the 33 year-old winger disclosed that he had sought treatment for alcohol abuse, a problem that he had apparently been battling for some time. He returned to home ice on February 27th, posting an emotional hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. A game that will go down in Ottawa Senators history, as one of the most memorable in franchise history.
Ryan spoke to the Ottawa Citizen in June, after being nominated the for the award:
I think when you look at players and athletes, people have a perception that they are making a million bucks and living the good life, and getting to play hockey and flying around, but I don’t think people get a chance to relate to some of the things that go on underneath. Because I’ve been open and candid about that, I think people look at me and say, ’there is a very relatable person.’ Through my familiar (past) and then the alcohol issues, things like that, I’ve never hid from it.
Classy as always, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native was quick to throw any praise back to his fellow nominees:
Bobby Ryan, first and foremost, congratulated other nominees and finalists Oskar Lindblom and Stephen Johns.— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) September 7, 2020
Says they were both "equally if not more deserving" of the honour of the Masterton Trophy.
Ryan is the second Ottawa Senator to win the Masterton in its 52-year history. Craig Anderson was the winner in 2017, for his performance in the wake of his wife Nicholle’s cancer diagnosis, en route to Ottawa’s Eastern Conference Final run.
In his seven seasons with the team, Bobby Ryan has become a fan favourite Senators player. Even aside from his comeback, and openness in the face of addiction, his performances in both regular season and playoffs have endeared him to the fanbase.
Tweets like this, from our friend Trevor Shackles, say it perfectly:
Honestly one of the easiest times I've teared up watching a hockey game. What a game this was.— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) September 8, 2020
Congrats to Bobby on his path and his award pic.twitter.com/ulBXr5bZAn
From all of us here at Silver Seven, congratulations to Bobby Ryan. This could not be more deserved.