The Chicago chapter of Professional Hockey Writers' Association announced Wednesday it has nominated Chicago Blackhawks' goaltender Scott Darling as the team's candidate for the 2014-15 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Darling, a Lemont, Ill. native, didn't have an easy road to the National Hockey League. The 6-foot-6 goaltender was selected in the sixth-round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. He entered the draft two years early after he was cut for his partying at the University of Maine.
Darling was sent to the Coyotes' ECHL affiliate in Las Vegas. He never played a game for the Wranglers and was eventually cut from the roster.
He worked his way back up the ladder, slowly but surely. Playing with the Louisiana IceGators of the Southern Professional Hockey League, and two stints in the ECHL (Florida Everblades 2011-12 and Wheeling Nailers 12-13) before he finally caught a break with the Nashville Predators' AHL affiliate in Milwaukee last season.
Darling was 13-6-2 with a 2.00 goals against average and .933 save percentage, which grabbed the attention of the Blackhawks, who signed him to a one-year deal on July 1.
An injury to Blackhawks' starter Corey Crawford gave Darling his first NHL start in December. He's 8-3 with one shutout and a 1.77 GAA and 941 save percentage in 12 games this season.
The Blackhawks' goaltender will now be in contention with the league's 29 other nominees for this award.
The winner is selected by a poll among the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. The trophy commemorates the late Bill Mastertson, a player with the Minnesota North Stars, who lost his life following an NHL game on Jan. 15, 1968.
Two Blackhawks players have been awarded with the Masterton in league history: Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04).