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Nick Schultz, not as bad at hockey as he used to be, nominated for Masterton Trophy

Is being Not Terrible anymore good enough to earn a Masterton nomination?

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The choices are slim among the Philadelphia Flyers for Masterton Trophy nominations this year, and Nick Schultz is probably as deserving as any player on the team. He's had a bounce-back year after nearly playing his way out of the league the last few seasons, and there's even talk that he could win the Barry Ashbee Trophy as Flyers best defenseman. He will certainly finish higher on that ballot than any of us anticipated.

That said ... Schultz's nomination is really just a case of "hey, this guy isn't so bad anymore!"

Is being bad at hockey, coming to a bad team, then playing decent hockey on that team and signing a disagreeable contract extension enough to be considered "perseverance, sportsmanship and/or dedication to hockey?" *shrug*

Rob Zepp probably would have been a candidate had he spent more of the year on the Flyers roster. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare could be an option as well considering how long it took him to get to the NHL and how well he's played after working up the ladder through Europe for the first decade of his career.

Here's how members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association are instructed to vote for this award:

Criteria for the Masterton Trophy is defined as: "An annual award ... given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."

The player does not have to have overcome illness, injury, or tragedy; the prerequisite for "perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication" is not always a hospital bed.

That should not exclude a player from consideration, but lack thereof should not exclude either. So, when considering candidates, feel free to think Jarome Iginla, Martin St. Louis, Jaromir Jagr, Devan Dubnyk or Olli Jokinen (examples only), as much as you may consider someone who has come back from a broken femur, cancer, or the loss of a loved one.

All things considered, Kimmo Timonen better damn well be nominated by the Chicago chapter, and he better damn well win the thing too. Can't think of anybody more deserving.

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