Nearly a year ago, Michal Rozsival shattered his ankle in a brutal fall and left many to believe his career had just ended. Instead, the 37-year-old worked his way back into the Chicago Blackhawks' lineup this season rather than retire, and now, he's being recognized for it.
Rozsival has been named as the Hawks' nomination for this year's Masterton Trophy, the Chicago chapter of the PHWA announced Monday.
The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey." The winner is selected by a poll among the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. It is named after former player Bill Masterton, who died in 1968 after suffering a head injury on the ice during the pre-helmet era.
The choice of Rozsival isn't surprising. While there have been countless stories deserving of attention in Chicago this year, from the emergence of Artemi Panarin to the stellar play of Corey Crawford, Rozsival had to recover from a major, potentially career-ending injury in his late 30s. The defenseman easily could've hung up the skates, taken his Stanley Cup ring and carried on with his life.
If you're looking for dedication to ice hockey, I think what Rozsival did in order to come back to Chicago this season is pretty reflective of that.
Last year, the Hawks nominated backup goaltender Scott Darling, who overcame alcohol abuse issues in his early 20s to establish himself behind Crawford. The award went to Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who I guess overcame playing for crappy teams until he got traded to Minnesota, but whatever. Darling doesn't need a Masterton for us to know what an incredible, inspirational story he is.
As for Rozy, a Masterton (and maybe one more Stanley Cup??) would be one helluva way to call it a career, although there should several good options this year. Only two Chicago players have ever won the award: Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04).