Phil Kessel named Arizona Coyotes’ nominee for Bill Masterton Trophy

May 10, 2021, 11:21 AM
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 27: Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes reacts after scoring an empty-...
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 27: Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes reacts after scoring an empty-net goal to complete a hat-trick during the third period of the NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on March 27, 2021. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phil Kessel has been named the Arizona Coyotes’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an annual award given to the player who most exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.

A nominee for each NHL team is selected by the respective chapter of the Pro Hockey Writers Association, an international network of writers who cover the sport and vote on a number of league awards.

Kessel, now in his 15th NHL season and second with the Coyotes, scored a team-high 20 goals with 23 assists for 43 points this year. It was a bounce-back from a 2019-20 campaign in which he was plagued with injuries and recorded a near-career low amount of goals (14).

Kessel said training hard in the offseason helped him get back to the player he was after the frustrating shortened season, but he hopes to see even more success in the future. The Masterton nomination recognizes that hard work he put in.

“Whenever you get recognized for anything, it’s a good thing,” he said via Zoom. “When people are noticing you, it can never be a bad thing.”

The forward previously won the award in 2007 as member of the Boston Bruins.

Kessel was off to a strong rookie campaign when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After undergoing surgery, he returned to the Bruins’ line-up one month later, showing the perseverance the Masterton trophy celebrates.

“It was a long time ago but a great experience for me,” Kessel said Monday of the previous honor. “I went through a tough time. I came out stronger for that. I learned a lot about myself and I think it made me the person I was today.”

The trophy’s namesake, Bill Masterton, was 29 years old when he played his first season with the Minnesota North Stars in 1967-68. That year, he suffered a head injury on the ice during a game and died two days later.

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