Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom and San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau are the three finalists for the 2020-21 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.”
Dumba earned last year’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy after emerging as a leader in the movement to make hockey more inclusive and co-founded the Hockey Diversity Alliance in hopes of eradicating systemic racism in the sport. His leadership was on full display as he delivered an impassioned speech during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Edmonton, and became the first NHL player to kneel during the national anthem.
Amid backlash and online hate, the 26-year-old has continued his work this season with the inaugural Matt Dumba Hockey Without Limits Camp as part of Hockey Day Minnesota 2021.
“I have a platform to make a change and make a difference. It’d be a shame if I let that go to waste,” Dumba told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Lindblom, meanwhile, is a Masterton finalist for the second consecutive year for good reason. The 24-year-old continues to be an inspiration, returning to the Flyers’ lineup full-time in 2020-21 and suiting 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.
“It goes up and down every day,” Lindblom said of his energy levels after getting held out for rest in April, per NBC Sports.
“You can feel great one day, another day you feel like you haven’t played hockey for a while. You just have to battle through, try to be strong mentally and do your work every day and hopefully feel good.”
Marleau claimed a spot in the NHL record books this season, overtaking the great Gordie Howe for the most regular-season games in history. The 41-year-old dethroned Howe on April 19 when he stepped onto the ice for his 1,768th career game (he’s now at 1,779).
“To be merely mentioned in the same sentence as Gordie Howe is an achievement most hockey players can only dream about,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at the time. “To break one of his records is historic.”
The 23-year veteran is an absolute workhorse and currently owns a 910-game ironman streak, the second longest active run and fourth longest of all time. In 2020-21, Marleau also became just the fourth player to skate in 900 consecutive contests.
The winners of the 2021 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Final, with specific dates and the format to be announced.