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Joel Ward nominated for the Masterton Trophy…

The Tennessean’s John Glennon is reporting that the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (Nashville Chapter) has nominated forward Joel Ward for the Masterton Trophy.

The Masterton is given out annually for the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

Ward took about the oddest path to the NHL one could expect. He played four seasons in junior, then a handful of playoff games for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the WCHL, then played four years in college for the University of Prince Edward Island, then skated in the AHL for two years. All before finally making the NHL with the Minnesota Wild in 2006-07. He was signed as a free-agent off the proverbial scrap heap by the Predators that summer and went onto become the biggest surprise of the season for Nashville, tallying 35 points. Considering no one thought he’d make the parent club roster, his 17 goals and 18 assists was quite the accomplishment.

The 29 year old North York, Ontario native was rewarded with a hefty raise in the off-season and hasn’t disapointed. With one point in the final regular season game of the year, he’ll match last years point total. 

Each NHL market selects one player as their nomination. Those 30 nominations go to the NHL and they whittle the field down to three. Last year’s nominees were Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers who returned to the league after suffering a near fatal on-ice accident, Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings who was recognized due to his high level of play despite his age and, the eventual winner, Steve Sullivan of the Preds who missed nearly two full years before returning to the lineup last January.

Sullivan became the first player in a Nashville sweater to win post season hardware.

Each player is only allowed to win the award once in his career.

Anaheim – Teemu Selanne, off-ice contributions
Atlanta – Jim Slater, perseverance
Boston – Mark Recchi, leadership through adversity
Buffalo –
Calgary – Craig Conroy, overcoming injuries
Carolina – Rod Brind’Amour, leadership despite giving up captaincy
Chicago –
Colorado – Matt Hendricks, unorthodox road to NHL
Columbus – Jared Boll, on-ice leadership
Dallas –
Detroit – Tomas Holmstrom, style of play
Edmonton –
Florida – Bryan Allen, overcoming injuries
Los Angeles – Brad Richardson, overcoming foot injuries
Montreal – Jaroslav Halak, perseverance
Nashville – Joel Ward, unorthodox road to NHL
New Jersey – Patrik Elias, overcoming injuries and illnesses
NY Islanders –
NY Rangers – Chris Drury, leadership
Ottawa –
Pittsburgh – Bill Guerin, leadership
Philadelphia –
Phoenix – Vern Fiddler, overcoming injuries
St. Louis –
San Jose –
Tampa Bay –
Toronto – Jonas Gustavsson, heart condition requiring mid-season surgery
Vancouver – Henrik Sedin, charitable endeavours
Washington – Jose Theodore, perseverance through family tragedy

As the rest of the nominees come in, we will update the list. For what it’s worth, we completely expect Theodore of the Washington Capitals to take home the award come June’s NHL Awards Ceremony. While he hasn’t been officially nominated by his team yet, Theodore lost his infant son just weeks before training camp and has gone on to become the starter in the nation’s capital.

UPDATE (4/8/10; 3:10pm): As expected, Theodore was named the nominee for the Washington Capitals. Rebecca Henschel has an outstanding piece about Theodore here so please, whatever you do, go read it.