Philadelphia Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom, who battled back from cancer to return to team's lineup full-time this season, has won the 2021 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced Tuesday.
The award is presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
— NHL (@NHL) June 15, 2021
Lindblom, who was a Masterton finalist for the second consecutive year, suited up in 50 of 56 games after getting declared cancer-free in December, one year since he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The Gavle, Sweden native received the diagnosis of the rare form of bone cancer on Dec. 10, 2019, cutting short a promising 2019-20 campaign in which he’d put up 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games.
Speaking with longtime NHLer Bobby Ryan, who won the award one year prior after he went public with his battle against alcohol addiction in an effort to help others with their own battles, Lindblom shed light on the difficulty of returning to the ice in 2020-21.
"First of all, just to get back from losing all the muscles, then you start playing again and you feel like you're not really there, it's a tough time to just get around," he said. "Then it starts hitting you mentally as well, you feel tired all the time, so last season was a battle for me. But just to be able to get back on the ice again was so, so good, and I can't say more than that. It's an awesome feeling to be back on the ice again."
Thanking his family, his girlfriend Alma, the Flyers organization and, especially, the doctors and nurses who helped him find his way back, Lindblom also took a moment to recognize his fellow nominees.
"I feel very, very honoured and proud to win this award," he said, "and to compete with these types of players, like Matt Dumba and Patrick Marleau, that have been great players and great people on and off the ice. That's very special for me."