Dustin Wolf has been taking up all the headlines with the post season hardware nominations and wins for the Calgary Flames, but someone from the big club is taking the spotlight today. Mark Giordano, the 36 year old Flames Captain, was nominated by the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the 2019-20 Bill Masterton Award Tuesday afternoon.
The award is handed out annually to the player who “displays the best work ethic, perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.” It’s hard to argue that Mark Giordano doesn’t live up to that definition of the award and the 2019-20 season provided PLENTY of chances for Giordano to live up to, at minimum, the perseverance part of that description. Forget the fact that season was shut down due to Covid-19, how about the fact the Flames and Giordano had to deal with a teammate collapsing on the ice at practice (T.J. Brodie) and losing their head coach during the season due to racist comments that Bill Peters uttered in the past. Now, with all that said, Mark Giordano isn’t a slam dunk for this award at all.
The Flames top leader does have some stiff competition to go up against. This year’s other nominees are a who’s who list of players overcoming major obstacles on and off the ice. Oskar Lindblom of the Flyers is one of the nominees. Lindblom, as you may recall, left the Flyers in December after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer that infects soft tissue and bones. He did not play at all after December, but returned to Philadelphia to an emotional and inspirational standing ovation in January.
Jay Bouwmeester is another nominee. The former Flame is a member of the St. Louis Blues and he had a very scary episode this season on the ice in a game against the Anaheim Ducks. Bouwmeester had a “cardiac event” during the game and after being rushed to the hospital, had a defibrillator implanted in his chest to regulate this heartbeat. The 36 year old and Stanley Cup Champion did not play the rest of the season.
The final nominee is Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators. Ryan left the team in November to seek counseling for alcohol abuse and panic attacks. After four months in the NHL & NHLPA Player Assistance program, Ryan was able to return to the ice. He brought fans to their feet with a three goal performance against Vancouver that was one of those more uplifting moments of the shortened season.
As you can see, each player has a compelling story when it comes to why they should take home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for this season. All are good players who have dealt with some sort of obstacle during the 2019-20 season, but win or lose, each player getting the recognition they deserve is a win on it’s own.