The Columbus chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association named Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno the club’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded each year to the player who most displays “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the sport of hockey.” The award was named for late Minnesota North Stars center Bill Masterton, first presented in 1968 after his death due to brain injury sustained in a game against the Oakland Seals.
Though the trophy has often been awarded to players battling back from career- or life-endangering injuries, many previous winners have also been recognized for long careers, significant statistical improvement, leadership ability, and overcoming personal tragedy or struggle.
Foligno’s daughter, Milana, was born with a congenital heart defect, and Foligno missed six games early in the season to attend her doctor’s appointments and open-heart surgery.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
“I don’t know if I could have done what he did,” right wing R.J. Umberger said. “I know his thoughts were with his Janelle and Milana the whole time he was here, but he was still able to perform and give as much as he could to the team. And, honestly, it’s some of the best hockey I think he’s played.”
Previous Blue Jackets nominees include current players Jared Boll and Derek MacKenzie, as well as Kevin Dineen, Manny Maholtra, Raffi Torres, and Vinny Prospal. At the end of the regular season, the PHWA will vote on all 30 nominees to choose the winner.