Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson had a season he will never forget. He led the Senators to the Eastern Conference Finals, finishing his regular season with 25 wins and a 2.28 goals against average.
But Anderson also took multiple leaves of absence to be with wife Nicholle while she battled a rare form of throat cancer called nasopharyngeal carcinoma. As of late May, Nicholle is now cancer free.
Throughout his time off, Anderson learned there is “more to life,” as told to the National Post. “You learn that when you have kids, but when you go through something this traumatic and difficult, hockey is a job. I’m passionate about it, but at the end of the day, hockey will go on, whether I’m in it or not.”
The lessons he learned paid off, as he was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy tonight at the NHL awards. The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
Anderson’s acceptance speech was very emotional.
“Where do I begin? I just want to start here, there are so many people to thank,” Anderson said. “Right from the top here, Eugene Melnyk, the Sens organization and ownership group, general manager Pierre, goalie coach, all the coaches. This is an emotional time for me and like I said, I am probably going to forget a lot of people. Many thanks to our hockey community, all the fans that reached out. The support we received from my teammates, like I said, the ownership, management, coaches. My teammates were huge through all this. I love you guys, so much.
“My wife, Nicholle. I love you so much. Our family has been so powerful through all this. They have been there through thick and thin. Without them, and Nicholle’s strength. She is the only that wanted me to go back and play so much. We had so much support from family, friends, agent, you name it. They were there for us. And like I said, if I forget somebody, it’s not on purpose. Everyone was there for us. Hockey community, fans, media, you name it.
“Again, stay in the moment. That’s all I can say. Live for the now. Thank you.”
Nicholle could not hold back her emotions when Anderson started speaking of her.
Anderson, who turned his body in the direction of his wife during most of the speech, had tears in his eyes as he concluded.
More from the NHL
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson is the 2016-17 recipient of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” The award was presented by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) to honor the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited those qualities. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice injury.
Anderson recorded a successful season for the Senators while supporting his wife, Nicholle, in her fight against a rare form of throat cancer. After leaving the Senators in October to be with Nicholle, Anderson returned to the club at her urging on Oct. 29 when the Senators lost goaltender Andrew Hammond to a groin injury. He left the team in early December to be at Nicholle’s side while she underwent treatment and came back after the All-Star break. Anderson backstopped the Senators to a Stanley Cup Playoff berth by winning 25 of his 40 starts, surpassed the 500 career game milestone and, on March 11, became the Senators’ all-time wins leader (147).
A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.
Other finalists for this year’s honor were Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks and Derek Ryan of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Masterton Trophy Winners Since 1990
Year Winner Team
2017 Craig Anderson Ottawa
2016 Jaromir Jagr Florida
2015 Devan Dubnyk Minnesota
2014 Dominic Moore NY Rangers
2013 Josh Harding Minnesota
2012 Max Pacioretty Montreal
2011 Ian Laperriere Philadelphia
2010 Jose Theodore Washington
2009 Steve Sullivan Nashville
2008 Jason Blake Toronto
2007 Phil Kessel Boston
2006 Teemu Selanne Anaheim
2004 Bryan Berard Chicago
2003 Steve Yzerman Detroit
2002 Saku Koivu Montreal
2001 Adam Graves NY Rangers
2000 Ken Daneyko New Jersey
1999 John Cullen Tampa Bay
1998 Jamie McLennan St. Louis
1997 Tony Granato San Jose
1996 Gary Roberts Calgary
1995 Pat LaFontaine Buffalo
1994 Cam Neely Boston
1993 Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh
1992 Mark FitzpatrickNY Islanders
1991 Dave Taylor Los Angeles
1990 Gord Kluzak Boston
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) June 22, 2017
Photo: Ethan Miller
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.