Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils, Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers were honored today as the three finalists for the 2013-14 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
Each local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted nominations for the Masterton at the end of the regular season and the top three vote-getters were designated as finalists.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 24.
Here's what the league had to say about these noble honorees:
Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils
Jagr's unwavering dedication to the game has allowed him to continue playing at a high level when most players his age are retired. The Devils named the 42-year-old right wing their team MVP in 2013-14 after he led the club in assists (43), points (67), plus-minus (+16), game-winning goals (6) and shots (231). Admired throughout the league for his rigorous training regimen, Jagr says working hard in practices enables him to avoid fatigue and allows him to stay minty fresh while maintaining an advantage over much younger opponents late in games.
Manny Malhotra, Carolina Hurricanes
Malhotra, 33, was the Vancouver Canucks' Masterton nominee in 2011-12 after he returned from a serious eye injury suffered the previous season. Refusing to believe his NHL career was over last fall, he signed a professional tryout agreement with the Charlotte Checkers, Carolina's AHL affiliate, on Oct. 3 and was signed as a free agent by the Hurricanes four weeks later. He appeared in 69 regular-season games, assumed a leadership role by serving as an alternate captain, and ranked second among all NHL players in face-off percentage (59.4 percent).
Dominic Moore, New York Rangers
Moore, 33, returned to the NHL this season after taking a leave of absence during the spring of 2012 in order to care for his wife, Katie, after she had been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. Katie passed away at the age of 32 in January of 2013. Moore thereafter established the Katie Moore Foundation (katiemoore.org), dedicated to helping patients and families with rare cancers through research, advocacy and community. He resumed his career as an integral part of a Rangers team that earned 96 points and a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division.
We say: Jagr's nomination falls into the "career achievement" category, and that's a path the Masterton hasn't traveled since it honored Steve Yzerman back in 2003. That won't change this year. With him out of the way, we wouldn't mind seeing co-winners this season. How do you pick one over the other? Both Malhotra and Moore are the men we all hope we would be if faced with the challenges life has thrown their way. They reflect the best possible versions of ourselves with their perseverance and courage. Both are richly deserving of the award and our full admiration. More awards picks: Hart | Calder | Selke | Vezina | Norris | Lady Byng | Messier