And now, in the least surprising news of the 2016-17 hockey season: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been named a Masterton Trophy nominee by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
The Masterton is awarded annually to the NHL player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” One player from each team is nominated by the respective PHWA chapter in each city.
Congratulations to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for being the 2016-17 #Flyers nominee of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy pic.twitter.com/bSZUtRCFIE— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 28, 2017
There’s no doubt it’s been a big season for Bellemare, the Flyers’ fourth-line mainstay.
He was named to Team Europe in last fall’s World Cup of Hockey, where he played a key role for a team that surprised everybody by advancing to the championship game against Canada. He has been on Dave Hakstol’s good side all season, one of just six players to play in all 75 of the team’s games this year. He was named an ‘A’ after the trade of Mark Streit at the trade deadline, and he was given a big contract extension that day as well.
There are legitimate disagreements on whether or not Bellemare should have that contract extension, or the ‘A’, or whether he should be one of Hakstol’s favorite sons. But there is no disagreement that his rise in the NHL has been impressive. To do all of this as a French-born player who just two years ago was in the Swedish league as a 27 year old is very impressive. It’s hard not to root for Bellemare and his story, and it certainly shows a level of perseverance that qualifies him for this nomination.
That said, it’s unlikely he will win the Masterton. It’s a competitive award each year, and the list of candidates this season is strong. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson probably has it locked up after returning to play following his wife’s cancer diagnosis.
The last Flyer to win the award was Ian Laperriere, who earned the Masterton despite not playing during the 2010-11 season. Shayne Gostisbehere was the team’s nominee last year.