This is a little bit of a surprise, but Sullivan is a trooper and very deserving of this award.
But I thought Z was as well. Some will wonder how much his signing with a Russian team went into this. I don't think it did. The Pro Hockey Writers voted on it before the Russian deal went down.
Sullivan obviously deserved this and is a good guy to boot. Three good choices for this award as Chris Chelios was also a finalist. He can win it next year!
Here's what I wrote when he was nominated for the Masterton Award on April 1:
Florida winger Richard Zednik has been selected by the Florida chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association as the team's nominee for the annual Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance in returning to the ice after a horrific injury on Feb. 10, 2008.
Zednik, who sustained a severed carotid artery after being accidentally cut by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate, missed the end of the 2007-08 season but returned this season. Zednik scored in the second period of Tuesday's game, his 200th career goal.
''I'm pretty surprised, I can't believe it,'' Zednik said Tuesday morning. ``It's a great honor to be nominated for a trophy. We'll see what happens. It's a nice surprise.''
The Panthers have never had a player win the Masterton, an award given annually to the NHL player who ''best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.'' The award honors the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice injury. The award will be given out at the 2009 NHL Awards show June 18 in Las Vegas.
''Until your are in a situation like that, you don't know how you would react,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. 'You could make a pretty good case for saying, `I made enough money.' He'd be able to put his feet up, enjoy his wife and kids and call it a career. I give him all the credit in the world. He jumped right back in the fire.''
Added Zednik: ``I never had a question that I wouldn't come back. I was even more eager to come back and prove I could still play the way I was playing before.''
This is what NHL.com had to say about Steve Sullivan and his dedication and obvious love for the game:
Sullivan played his first game this past season on Jan. 10, 687 days after he fragmented a spinal disc in a game against the Canadiens. He missed 142 games while he underwent two back surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. Sullivan's ability to resume his career was in serious doubt.
But he made it back and played in every game the rest of the season, except the game after his first game back. Sullivan had 11 goals and 21 assists in 41 games, a 0.78 points-per-game that was just slightly lower than his 0.8 points-per-game career average.
He was plus-2, had two game-winning goals and three power-play goals. Sullivan either scored or assisted on 11 goals that gave his team the lead and three goals that tied games. He beat the Kings with an overtime goal on March 28.
Here's what they wrote about Zednik:
There have been few more frightening sights in NHL history than Zednik having his carotid artery nearly severed by teammate Olli Jokinen's
skate on Feb. 28, 2008 in a game against the Sabres in Buffalo. Jokinen
tripped over a rival player and his foot went high in the air, catching
the unsuspecting Zednik in the throat.
Zednik kept his wits about him and quickly skated to his bench, where assistant trainer David Zenobi clamped a towel on his throat and teammate Jassen Cullimore helped carry him to the dressing room. Buffalo team doctor Les Bisson attended Zednik there and he was taken to Buffalo General Hospital where vascular surgeon Richard Curl and attending surgeon Sonya Noor repaired the wound.
By the time surgery started, Zednik had lost about five pints of blood and had gone into shock, with a high pulse and low-blood pressure. Doctors weren't far from losing him and said after surgery that it was a miracle that Jokinen's sharp skate blade hadn't also cut his jugular vein.
The team response was great. Assistant General Manager Randy Sexton accompanied Zednik to the hospital and Karen Cohen, wife of Alan Cohen, the Panthers' general partner, chairman of the board and CEO, flew from Florida to Buffalo with Zednik's wife, Jessica, on a chartered flight.
The hockey community went to bed that night not knowing Zednik's fate and breathed a sigh of relief the following morning when reports said Zednik was resting in stable condition and able to talk. He remembered the incident clearly.
Zednik had been badly injured earlier in the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he caught an elbow in the face from an off-balance Kyle McLaren and suffered a concussion, broken nose, bruised throat and cut eyelid. He was carried unconscious from the ice and spent the night in intensive care. He came back to have a career year the next season, scoring 31 goals and adding 19 assists.
He came back this season to score 17 goals and add 16 assists while going plus-2. Zednik has 200 goals and 179 assists for 379 points in 745 games.