The NHL awards season continues to roll along.
On Monday, the NHL unveiled the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, with New York's Zdeno Chara, Philadelphia's Kevin Hayes, and Montreal's Carey Price emerging as the leading candidates to take home the hardware.
The Masterton Trophy is a unique honor, given “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey,”
In that vein, each of the finalists presents a deserving case for themselves.
Chara earns a nod due to his astonishing durability and determination to continue his playing career at an age long past which many players would have already retired.
The hulking defender turned 45 years old before the end of the 2021-22 season and yet was still playing a regular role on a team that was fighting for a playoff spot, logging nearly 19 minutes per night for the Islanders while only missing 10 games in total throughout the year, finishing with 14 points.
Hayes' unwavering strength in the midst of devastating personal tragedy is, without a doubt, worthy of recognition.
After suddenly and unexpectedly losing his beloved brother Jimmy during the summer, Hayes also dealt with numerous surgeries to repair a serious injury that then led to him developing a blood infection, which, in turn, required even more medical procedures, causing him to miss the first month of the season.
But Hayes never stopped working, and eventually made his way back into the Flyers lineup in mid-November before ultimately finishing the season with 31 points in 48 games.
And then there's Price, whose recovery from a serious knee injury hit multiple setbacks that threatened his ability to ever resume his playing career. But Price publicly stated that his goal was to return to the ice this season. And through sheer determination, the 34-year-old achieved his goal on April 15th, starting five games for the Canadiens down the stretch and showing just how unbreakable his spirit really is.
We'll have to wait a few weeks to find out who goes home with the award. But no matter what, every single finalist deserves to be recognized.