As the calendar flips deeper and deeper into June, the NHL continues to roll out its finalists for the 2021 class of awards.
Today’s announcement centers upon the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player voted to “best exemplify the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”, with Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Philadelphia’s Oskar Lindblom, and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau rounding out the trio of nominees.
Dumba’s reputation as an athlete who uses his platform to promote positive change has grown significantly over his eight-year NHL career. The 26-year-old took home the King Clancy Trophy last season for the outstanding contributions he made to his community, those of which included Dumba helping found the Hockey Diversity Alliance along with eight current and former NHLers. Dumba’s powerful speech against racism and intolerance at the beginning of the 2020 playoffs was a historic moment and an incredible act of bravery, as well, one that will hopefully be remembered as a watershed moment in hockey’s move towards inclusion and acceptance years in the future.
Lindblom’s story is among the most inspiring in recent memory.
Diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in December of 2019, the then-23-year-old defied the odds at every turn of his courageous battle and beat this horrible disease a mere six months later, even managing to participate in the 2020 NHL Playoff Bubble with the Flyers and take part in two postseason games.
Now back to full-time status, Lindblom inked a three-year extension to remain in Philadelphia prior to the 2021 season and finished with 14 points in 50 games.
Having been declared cancer-free in March, the talented young winger now embarks upon the remainder of his career, and life, with a clean bill of health.
And then there’s the NHL’s Iron Man, Patrick Marleau, whose current streak of 910 consecutive games played ranks second among active players to only Keith Yandle, while standing as fourth-longest in league history.
Most NHLers have long since retired by the time they reach Marleau’s ripe age of 41. And yet here the veteran of 23 seasons is, continuing to suit up for all of his team’s games night in and night out. That accomplishment would be remarkable enough in its own right. But Marleau took it up a notch in 2021 by entering the history books, officially passing the legendary Gordie Howe as the NHL’s all-time leader in games played on April 19th when he hit the ice for the 1,766th time in the regular season.
With Marleau a free agent this offseason, it remains unclear if his records will continue to grow. Regardless, the man made history. And that should be cherished.