Mats Zuccarello Named a Masterton Finalist


The NHL's press release:


NEW YORK (May 1, 2016) -- Forwards Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers and Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers are the three finalists for the 2015-16 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey," the National Hockey League announced today.

The local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season and the top three vote-getters were designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2016 NHL Awards, hosted by actor Will Arnett, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Following are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins

Dupuis earned the Masterton nomination for the Penguins for his determination in rejoining the team after nearly a year of rehabilitation, training, medical testing and monitoring in caring for multiple injuries and blood clot concerns. He appeared in 18 games before a pair of medical scares convinced him to make the difficult decision to retire. At the request of GM Jim Rutherford, Dupuis remains with the Penguins to assist in a new capacity. He is with the team on a daily basis, attending games and providing feedback to the coaching staff and players.

Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers

Jagr was selected as the Panthers’ Masterton Trophy nominee in a season that saw the 44-year-old inspire his team to franchise records for wins (47) and points (103) while capturing their second division title. Playing in his 22nd NHL season, Jagr led the Panthers in scoring with 27-39--66, becoming the oldest player in League history to surpass the 60-point plateau. His work ethic and off-ice mentorship, particularly with linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, whose combined age is younger than Jagr, was considered as valuable as his on-ice production.

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers

Zuccarello was named the Rangers’ Masterton Trophy nominee in recognition of a spirited return to action in 2015-16 after suffering a serious head injury during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Zuccarello missed the Rangers’ final 14 postseason games last year after being struck in the head by a slap shot in a game against Pittsburgh on April 24, 2015. He skated in 81 games this season and established career highs in several categories, including games played (81), goals (26), points (61) and power-play goals (seven)

Many believe that Zuccarello is the heart and soul of the New York Rangers and given how his teammates reacted to his terrifying injury and amazing return this season it is easy to see why. The Norwegian star's battle away from the ice to recover from his head injury had many Blueshirts fans worried if Zucc would ever be the same.

The fact that Zuccarello returned to play in the 2015-16 season was nothing short of amazing and the magic and talent he displayed night in and night out was inspirational.

Congratulations to all three of the Masterton finalists.