There is a ton of awards in the NHL. From the Art Ross MVP trophy, to the Lady Bing Memorial, to the Calder, almost all aspects of the sport is awarded. Comeback player of the year is no exception, that trophy is essentially the Bill Masterson Trophy. The Bill Masterson is awarded to the NHL player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. This years winner was Bobby Ryan.
IT'S BOBBY! pic.twitter.com/TTfUwCOxpb — Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 7, 2020
Bobby Ryan definitely displayed all the qualities of the Bill Masterson Trophy in this season. He admitted himself into the NHL substance abuse program for alcoholism, was able to overcome his demons, and came back to play for the Senators before the season was paused. He even scored a hat trick in his first home game, a huge accomplishment. Bobby Ryan’s story was something that was uplifting and inspirational for a lot of people. I can’t even imagine how his story of perseverance and overcoming your own internal struggles means to those struggling with addiction. It’s probably an extremely inspiring story for those individuals. I do think that Bobby Ryan is deserving of this award, the thing is, everyone that is nominated for this award is extremely deserving.
I don’t want to take anything away from Bobby Ryan’s accomplishment, but how can you choose between the three finalist that are up for the award this year, or any of the nominees for that matter. You shouldn’t choose at all. Oskar Lindbolm was diagnosed with cancer in December. He then went on to beat that cancer and ended up playing in two Stanley Cup playoff games. Talk about perseverance and dedication to ice hockey. Cancer couldn’t even stop Lindbolm. Then you have Stephen Johns. Johns didn’t play the entire 2018-2019 season initially due to post traumatic headaches. Eventually Johns told the world that he was battling severe depression and suicidal thoughts. It does not matter who you are, how successful you are, how much money you have, depression can effect anyone. To battle out of the dark hole that your own mind puts you in is a struggle that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Yet Stephen Johns was able to battle out of that to come back and play at an NHL level. Every single one of these guys is deserving of this award. How a panel of judges can sit back and say, “well his struggle with alcoholism was harder than the fight with cancer or depression so he gets the award,” is mind boggling to me. I genuinely could not pick between the three.