Zajac Named for Masterton Trophy

Each year, the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player in the NHL who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. According to an article on the Devils’ website by Amanda Stein, this year’s Devils nominee is Travis Zajac.

The award has been won by a Devil twice and by three players in franchise history. Brian Boyle was the last Devil to do it in 2018. Ken Daneyko won in 2000 and Glenn “Chico” Resch won the trophy as a Colorado Rockies player following the 1981-82 season.

Stein mentioned the reasons behind naming Zajac the Devils’ nominee in her article. The announcement was made on Tuesday by the New Jersey chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

Zajac, as Stein mentioned, is the longest tenured New Jersey Devil and serves as a mentor towards a team made up mostly of young players.

In more tangible terms, he notched his 335th career assist on February 9 according to Stein, putting him in a tie on the Devils’ all-time list in that category. On that date, he also moved into third overall on the all-time points list for the franchise with 521 points. He finished the season in fourth place on the Devils’ all-time goals scored list with 195 (Stein mentions that on January 12, he scored goal 192 to put him in fifth place on that list). He also played in his 934th game on November 2, tying him with John MacLean for fifth in games played with the franchise. He would finish the year all by himself at fourth on that list with 991 games played – all for the Devils – with 1,000 games a distinct possibility for next season barring any injuries.

The NHL will announce the winner of the Masterton Trophy at a later date. However, with the season officially ending last week, the records for the 2019-20 season are in the books and the regular season awards have been given out.

The Boston Bruins, with 100 points and the best record in the league, have won the Presidents’ Trophy. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak of the Bruins won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the goaltenders (playing a minimum of 25 games) on the team with the fewest goals scored against. Another Bruin to win an award was David Pastrnak, who shared the Maurice Richard Trophy as top goal scorer in the league with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Both men lit the lamp 48 times in the shortened season.

Finally breaking the Boston stranglehold on regular season awards was Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, who won the Art Ross Trophy as leading points scorer. Draisaitl had a dream season playing with Connor McDavid and ended the year with 110 points total (43 goals and 67 assists).

The rest of the NHL’s awards will be doled out whenever the season ends and the league can reschedule the awards show. This will likely be in the fall following the sprint that will be the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.

Boyle is Devils’ Masterton Nominee

Brian Boyle has been named the Devils’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the New Jersey chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Boyle best exemplified the “qualities of perseverance and sportsmanship” that the trophy is awarded for. Boyle was diagnosed on September 19, during training camp, with chronic myelogenous leukemia. He vowed to play this season and he has, notching 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points in 63 games played this season. Of those 13 goals, five have come on the power play.

But beyond stats Boyle, a veteran of ten NHL seasons who was signed by the Devils as a free agent on July 1, is a leader. He wears an A as an alternate captain for a reason. As coach John Hynes told Abbey Mastracco of the North Jersey Record, “One of the things that I think has helped him have some credibilty in the locker room is what he’s done on the ice his whole career and how he goes about his business every day.”

Hynes did not stop there in his positive assessment of Boyle as a person. He told Mastracco: “I think when you look at his personality, he’s very well-spoken. He’s thoughtful before he speaks and he treats people really well. And when you do that, you can hold guys accountable, give them advice. He’s been a big part of what we’ve tried to do here.”

Mastracco mentioned that Boyle’s ultimate goal for this season is to get the Devils into the playoffs. He told her: “I’ve got a lot of motivation, I certainly want to do my part and that’s elevate my game. That’s kind of everybody’s responsibility. I want to do well in the big moments. But from what I’ve seen and the support system I’ve had, I’m certainly motivated to do my best for a lot of reasons.”

The 33-year-old native of Hingham, Massachusetts would not be the first Devil or member of the franchise to win the award, should he do so. Glenn “Chico” Resch won it in 1981-82 as a member of the Colorado Rockies and Ken Daneyko won it in 1999-2000.

This is certainly a much-deserved nomination. There has been no inspirational story on par with Boyle’s this season in the NHL. He was dealt a blow by life, but was able to overcome it and continue his playing career. And not only did he continue his career, he has contributed in a big way to a surprising Devils team.

Making the playoffs would be the big reward for him, but here’s wishing him good luck that he does take home some hardware this June.