Jamie Benn was named the Dallas Stars' nominee for the Masterton Award this morning. The award is given to the player that is deemed to embody best the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. In recent years, players that won the award have overcome a serious injury to return to play.
Benn, who won the Art Ross Trophy last season, immediately had double hip surgery at season's end. The recovery time placed his return timetable at roughly a week or two into the season, with a slim chance at opening night. Benn rehabbed all summer long in the Dallas area with team doctors and trainers in order to be ready to go opening night.
He hasn't missed a single game this season.
A leader both on and off the ice, Benn set the standard for what the Dallas Stars needed to do in order to get off to a hot start and reach the playoffs this season. He's on pace to set a career high in points (he needs just 4 to tie his career high) and has set a career mark already in goals (with 37).
Benn's performance and leadership on and off the ice this season is worthy of recognition. However, it is unlikely that Benn will end up winning the award. I'd have to imagine it's Pittsburgh Penguins Pascal Dupuis' award to lose, after coming back from a season missed with life threatening blood clots. He played in 18 games this season before health scares kept him from continuing his career. Pavel Datsuyk from the Detroit Red Wings is another nominee I could see winning over Benn based on the injuries he's fought through recently.
No one on the Stars deserved the nomination more than Jamie Benn. Even if he ultimately ends up not winning the award, he'll still get the chance to earn bigger hardware as he leads the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup playoffs.