As Dallas Stars fans strive to find the bright spots in a season that went down hill very quickly over the past month, they need look no farther than Mattias Janmark.
Janmark has quietly had a good season this year. On a team where secondary scoring has been hard to come by, Janmark has contributed 19 goals so far this year in 75 games played. That’s fourth best on the team today, behind the big trio of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov. Additionally, he has scored half of the team’s four total shorthanded goals this season. His 19 goals and 34 points so far this year is already better than his rookie season in 2015-2016, when he posted 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games played.
That alone would be cause for celebration — a young forward taking the next step in his development. It’s made incredible when you remember that Janmark missed all of last season with a degenerative knee condition called osteochondritis dissecans that could have ended his career.
Dr. William J. Robertson, the team’s head physician orthopedic surgery/sports medicine for the Stars, told DallasStars.com earlier this year about Janmark’s condition, “It’s uncertain and concerning because I don’t know of any other pro hockey player that’s had this injury, nor this surgery. I don’t know of any other hockey player that’s had this injury and come back to play at that level.”
His return to the game, and the sheer admiration at how he has played every game this season after returning from something like this, makes him the obvious nominee for the Dallas Stars for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. It is an award each season that is awarded to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to the game of hockey.
Returning from a career-threatening injury that no NHL player has had before more than illustrates those qualities.
Among hockey fans, this award seems to be Brian Boyle’s this season. Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia prior to the start of the season. The doctors described it as “largely treatable”.
Other than taking two pills each day on an empty stomach and dealing with some controllable side effects from his medication, Boyle said, his routine is not much different from what it was before he received the diagnosis, which was announced on Sept. 19.
At 32 years old, returning to the NHL after any kind of diagnosis like that is more than worthy of being recognized and celebrated. But in our (totally biased) opinion, Janmark’s return to the ice this season illustrates the spirit of the award just as much as Boyle’s return to the New Jersey Devils lineup.