For the second time in as many seasons and third time during his career, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has been nominated by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The award is given annually to the player who best exemplifies dedication, sportsmanship and perseverance to the sport.
Stamkos returned after missing most of 2016-17 after season-ending right knee surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear to help pace the Lightning to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. His 86 points are second on the team and seventh overall in the NHL.
Here is a bio submitted to the PHWA by the Tampa Bay chapter:
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is no stranger the dedication and hard work required to recover from serious injury. From a broken leg to a serious blood clot issue to knee surgery, Stamkos has missed significant time at various points throughout his career. A broken leg in 2013-14 kept him out for four months and cost him a spot on the Canadian Olympic team that won a gold medal. At the end of the 2015-16 season he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his right shoulder that required surgery to alleviate that kept him out of the final five games of the regular season and through the playoffs up to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Then in November 2016, Stamkos suffered a partially torn meniscus in his right knee that once again forced him to undergo surgery to repair and kept him out for the remainder of the season.
Through it all, Stamkos never let it affect his outlook on things, always coming to the rink with a positive attitude throughout all the rehabilitation he's undergone, refusing to let it bring him down and maintain perspective.
Coming off his latest major injury and the lengthy rehabilitation to return from the knee surgery, Stamkos returned to form this season as one of the top offensive players in the game. As of March 25, Stamkos sat tied for sixth in league scoring and tied for fourth overall in assists, having established a career high in the category to help lead the Lightning to the top of the standings throughout the season. Stamkos was also one of five Lightning to appear in every game on the season through 75 games. For his dedication to the recovery process, his sportsmanlike attitude and perseverance to get back on the ice, Stamkos is the Tampa Bay chapter nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.