Yesterday the Montreal Canadiens’ organization announced that goalie Carey Price had been named the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy award winner. The other finalists for the Masterton Award this season were Zdeno Chara of the New York Islanders and Kevin Hayes of the Philadelphia Flyers. Clearly, given the criteria for this unique award, Price is a deserving winner.
What the Masterton Trophy Represents
The Masterton award is given to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” For those fans who might not know much about the Masterton Award, it’s named after Bill Masterton, who was the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game.
The winner of the award is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association after each team nominates one player in the competition. The award usually is presented to a player who has come back from a career– or even life-threatening illness or injury.
Price’s Difficult 2021-22 Season
Price had an eventful 2021-22 season, but not much of the season had to do with playing hockey. Unlike 2020-21, where he helped carry his underdog Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final, Price played only five games during the season. His record was far less than stellar at 1-4-0, with a 3.63 goals-against-average, and a .878 save percentage.
Instead of coming back for the 2021-22 season, Price had knee surgery in the offseason. In addition, he voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program on Oct. 7, 2021.
He didn’t return to the ice until April 17, 2022. During the rest of the season, he was able to make five starts for the Canadiens. As noted, he wasn’t able to – at least in that short time – regain his usual excellence in goal. As it stands currently, because of his knee injury, his status for the 2022-23 season is really up in the air.
What’s Price’s Prognosis for Next Season?
Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes commented on the possibility of Price’s return. He noted that: “The only way we’d have complete clarity is somehow we learn he could not play. Otherwise, we have to go into the season and see how the knee responds when he’s back to the rigors of a regular-season schedule.”
It would be sad if Price could never play again. When he’s healthy he can absolutely carry a team. He’s been an elite goalie almost since he entered the NHL. Sadly for both Price and the Montreal fans, his wonky knee will be one of the unknown factors headed into the 2022-23 season.
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