NEW YORK – Toronto Maple Leafs winger Jason Blake, Edmonton Oilers winger Fernando Pisani and Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios were named finalists for the 2008 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on Friday.
The award, under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, is presented annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
In October, Blake was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, a rare but treatable form of cancer. Nonetheless, the Hibbing, Minn., native completed the season as one of only three players to appear in all 82 Maple Leafs games.
Blake hosted a leukemia awareness night at the Air Canada Centre in January and donated $1,000 per goal and $500 per assist during the month to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Pisani missed the first 26 games of the regular season due to ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammation of the large intestine. The Edmonton native suffered abdominal pain and weight loss and was forced to miss training camp and the first 26 games of the regular season. He made an inspirational return to the Oilers’ lineup Dec. 2 in a 4-0 victory at Anaheim and played all of Edmonton’s remaining games.
Chelios completed his 24th NHL regular season and ninth with the Red Wings in 2007-08. The three-time Norris Trophy-winner (1989, ’93 and ’96) and 11-time all-star game participant has appeared in 1,616 regular-season games, sixth on the all-time list. In January, the 46-year-old Chicago native became the second-oldest player in National Hockey League history, trailing only Gordie Howe.
The Masterton Trophy winner will be announced June 12 during the 2008 NHL awards in Toronto.