Thursday, April 8, 2010

We have a Masterton nominee

I'm happy to announce that the Canadiens have selected Jaroslav Halak as their nominee for this year's Masterton Trophy.

Okay, I'll be honest, I don't quite know what the trophy is for. I've been a bit spoiled as a pop-culture junkie because awards categories are usually very clear - you know, Outstanding Drama Series, Best Actor In A Supporting Role, etc... I thought the Masterton Trophy was the NHL's way of giving comeback kids a pat on the back - you know, a guy is away from his team for a very long time because of illness, injury, or some other awful thing, then he comes back to a hero's welcome and kicks some ass. Cue Masterton Trophy. Right?

If that's the case, then I'm not really sure if we have a nominee. Injuries have been a little too prevalent this season to really single out one player, and some guys were gone for eons, while others recovered pretty quickly even though their heads were used as target practice or their faces got busted open. What kind of adversity has Jaro had to withstand? The shudder-inducing drama of last season? The annoying overblown rivalry that may have spotlighted his talents but also put him under pressure? A somewhat inconsistent team in front of him?

Okay, yeah, that counts.

But what if there's a guy out there who came back from diabetes or a serious concussion or something? What if some other team nominates a really old player, like how last year's Hab was Patrice Brisebois? Does Halak have a chance?

Well, apparently what the Masterton Trophy officially recognizes is "qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey." And here we have a goalie who has tried to take every chance he was given to shine. He's started a lot of games this season because he earned those starts. He practices hard and plays hard. He's pleased when he wins but is humble about it. And he's been kind enough to rise above the fray when the media and the fans start yapping about who's the better goalie (even when he regularly comes out on top). Since this nomination comes from the journalists, you can tell that he treats them with respect and that he's a great guy off the ice as well as between the pipes. He's one hell of a sportsman.

He's had a really good season, which makes him a likely candidate to be our Hart nominee as well (Hart is MVP, right? the guy who basically makes his team good?) although there are some other players who've also been a big part of the team's success this season. The thing is, the other teams in the NHL will probably have their own supertalented Hart nominees, and the winner is often a guy that no one is surprised to see named MVP. So there are a few players, most notably another goalie, more likely to take home the Hart than Jaro. That being said, he's getting a lot of deserved attention, and it might just be enough to get some Masterton votes.

As long as the old guys in the league aren't too beloved.

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