The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is given out annually to the NHL player who exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The award has been voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 1968, and today they announced their nominees for 2019.
Each team provided a nominee for the award. The finalists this season are Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Robin Lehner from the New York Islanders and Joe Thornton from the San Jose Sharks.
Foligno, 31, captained the Blue Jackets to a playoff berth and first-round upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning while also dealing with major health scares for two of his children. Twice the veteran forward had to leave the team to deal with family issues, including when his 22-month old son Hudson’s lung collapsed while in the hospital with pneumonia. It’s been an incredibly trying year for the captain, making the Blue Jackets’ playoff success even more deserved.
Lehner, 27, has finally found some balance in his life as part of the Islanders, after battling addiction and mental health issues for years. Lehner wrote a piece for The Athletic in September detailing his bipolar diagnosis and struggles with alcohol while part of the Buffalo Sabres organization. He went on to post an incredible .930 save percentage this season, winning the Jennings trophy as the goaltender for the team with the lowest goals against average.
Thornton, 39, fought back from several major knee injuries over the past two seasons to suit up 73 times in 2018-19. The legendary playmaker ended with 51 points, the 17th time he has broken the 50-point threshold in a season. Even at the late stage of his career he was pushing hard to be healthy and productive for the Sharks, and now has four points through four games in the playoffs.