Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore has been nominated for a prestigious award.
Announced today, The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association have revealed the shortlist for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, and the Vegas Golden Knights blueliner is among the nominees.
Awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey, the trophy is named after former Minnesota North Stars player Bill Masterton, who died on Jan. 15, 1968, after an injury sustained during a game.
And Theodore is a perfect illustration of what the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is all about.
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Coming off a career-year in 2018-19 with 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists), Theodore jetted off to Slovakia to help Team Canada to try and secure Gold at the 2019 IIHF World Championships.
However, the stud defenseman failed a drug test during the tournament and, after undergoing tests upon his return to the United States, the worst possible news was delivered.
Theodore had been diagnosed with Testicular Cancer.
It was earth-shattering news and Theodore detailed the heartbreaking story of how he was told in this excellent story done via The Player Tribune.
Theodore underwent surgery and made a full recovery thanks in large to how early the Cancer was detected.
After such a scare, coupled with both the physical and mental toll of the surgery, few would have blamed Theodore for enduring a slow start.
However, the exact opposite happened.
Building off his coming-out party the year before, the 24-year-old elevated his game to a whole new level in 2019-20, establishing himself as one of the best young offensive defensemen in the National Hockey League.
Prior to the NHL going on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Theodore had carved-out a hell of a career-year and cemented his status as the best blueliner on the Golden Knights roster.
Through 71 regular season games, Theodore put up 13 goals and 33 assists for 46 points, setting career-highs in goals, assists, points, power play points (16) and game-winning goals (4).
He also established a new career-high in Average Time On Ice with 22:14, while racking up 69 blocked shots, 20 hits and 55 takeaways.
In a nutshell, Theodore was a key cog for the Golden Knights who performed to the highest level in all situations.
Perhaps the highlight of the year for Theodore, however, came on Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Nov. 21, 2019 when Theodore’s Grandmother, Kay Darlington, who was battling Stage-Four Breast Cancer at the time, dropped the ceremonial puck against the San Jose Sharks.
It was a true heartfelt moment.
Should Theodore win the award he will join fellow Golden Knights teammate Robin Lehner in doing so, with the goalie crowned the winner of the 2019 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after carving out an outstanding comeback year in the wake of revealing his battles with addiction and mental health.
Theodore isn’t the only nominee for the 2020 Bill Masterton Trophy to have overcome adversity and gone on to light it up in 2019-20, however.
There is Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid who fought back from a near career-ending injury to hit 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists), while Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan recorded a hat trick in his second game back since returning from the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, which helped Ryan to tackle an alcohol addiction.
You can check out the full list of nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Trophy below:
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association proudly announces chapters’ nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: pic.twitter.com/EpBQDoMhe5
— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 9, 2020
You also have Oskar Lindblom of the Philadelphia Flyers, who recently completed treatment after being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in December and is probably the overwhelming favorite for the award.
Overall, there are many deserving contenders for the 2020 Bill Masterton Trophy, all of whom have given a whole new meaning to hockey toughness.
That includes Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, who displayed tremendous courage, perseverance and dedication to his craft to bounce back from one of the toughest fights of his life to emerging as one of the best young blueliners in the NHL.