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It certainly isn't the most prestigious award in the NHL, that list would include the Rocket, the Hart, the Vezina and the Norris. But the Masterton Memorial Trophy is a very different award from any of these. It may not live long in the memory of fans or the media, overshadowed by the aforementioned awards but in the mind of the winner it may be one of the biggest awards they have ever won.
The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player who has demonstrated the most perseverance during the NHL season and therefore is very meaningful to its recipient. On Wednesday Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty became the last Hab since Saku Koivu after his heroic battle with cancer to win the award. Pacioretty won the award over nominees Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators. "I'd like to thank all the people that supported me over the past year and a half" Pacioretty said during a brief speech where he named the Canadiens organization, his teammates, his family and the fans as his main sources of support. As for the adversity that Pacioretty overcame to earn a nomination for this award it has become infamous.
After starting the 2010-11 season with surprisingly good numbers Max Pacioretty took a questionable hit from Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara.
He suffered a fractured vertebrae and a mild concussion, which many would consider a blessing. Many thought Pacioretty had been paralyzed, or even worse. Some, when they first saw the play, had worries that the young forward may even have passed away. Most thought that if Pacioretty even survived he would never play again. Not only was that proven false this season but
he was able to improve his game in a way that nobody, not even Max himself, could have seen coming. Pacioretty led the Canadiens in scoring with a career high 33 goals, 32 assists, and 65 points, scoring more goals then NHL stars like Jarome Iginla, John Tavares, Zach Parise, Rick Nash and
Jonathan Toews. While other members of the Habs were licking their wounds and preparing for
an offseason vacation Pacioretty was hard at work overseas. He led Team USA in scoring at the 2012 IIHF
World Championships with 2 goals and 10 assists for 12 points finishing 7th overall in tournament scoring despite only playing 8 games.