The 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee from the Winnipeg Jets will be forward Mark Letestu. Announced by the Professional Hockey Writers Association Tuesday morning, the Winnipeg chapter of the PHWA chose first-year Jet Letestu following a season filled with various health complications.
The annual award is presented at season’s end to the candidate who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship qualities and dedication to ice hockey. This usually ties in hand-in-hand with physical/mental health scares, off-ice troubles, or other rehab-related situations in the lives of the nominees. Three finalists will be selected from the list prior to a winner being announced.
From Winnipeg, Letestu experienced what he called the ‘most challenging’ season of his career. After signing with the Jets in the 2019 offseason, the 35-year-old, Elk Point, AB. product only managed to suit up for seven games with Winnipeg, with his final contest coming on October 13th.
“It’s an honour, for sure,” Letestu said on a conference call Monday. “I didn’t expect to be nominated for any NHL awards. Perseverance, dedication… those words are pretty special to me. The unfortunate part of the award is it seems like you have to go through something, a little negative experience.”
After filling a void in the centre of the ice on the Jets’ fourth line for the first number of games, Letestu was removed from the lineup and was later announced to be battling some form of an injury. In late October, head coach Paul Maurice said that Letestu had Myocarditis (an inflammation of a heart muscle caused typically by a virus) and was shut down for six months.
Upon personal request, he was re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose near the end of the year, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. After practicing with the Jets for a couple weeks, he travelled with the Moose to Milwaukee for Manitoba’s AHL contest with the Admirals. However, that game, and ultimately the rest of the 2019-20 season was cancelled, kiboshing Letestu’s return plans. With the NHL planning return to play in late July or early August, the veteran forward very well still may have a chance to lace back up for the Jets.
Bill Masterton of Winnipeg, passed away in 1968 following a brain injury sustained while playing for the former Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. The award has been named in his honour. Alongside Letestu, Morweena, MB. product, goaltender James Reimer of the Hurricanes has also been announced as the nominee out of Raleigh for Carolina.
The full list of all 31 nominees – includes frontrunners Oscar Lindblom, Jay Bouwmeester, Bobby Ryan and Connor McDavid – can be found below:
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Miller, G
Arizona Coyotes: Conor Garland, F
Boston Bruins: Kevan Miller, D
Buffalo Sabres: Curtis Lazar, F
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano, D
Carolina Hurricanes: James Reimer, G
Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford, G
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves, D
Columbus Blue Jackets: Nathan Gerbe, F
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns, D
Detroit Red Wings: Robby Fabbri, F
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid, F
Florida Panthers: Noel Acciari, F
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick, G
Minnesota Wild: Alex Stalock, G
Montreal Canadiens: Shea Weber, D
Nashville Predators: Jarred Tinordi, D
New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac, F
New York Islanders: Thomas Hickey, D
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, G
Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan, F
Philadelphia Flyers: Oskar Lindblom, F
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin, F
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton, F
St. Louis Blues: Jay Bouwmeester, D
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn, F
Toronto Maple Leafs: Zach Hyman, F
Vancouver Canucks: Jacob Markstrom, G
Vegas Golden Knights: Shea Theodore, D
Washington Capitals: Michal Kempny, D
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Letestu, F