Canes' Manny Malhotra a finalist for NHL's Masterton award

calexander@newsobserver.comApril 30, 2014 

It was hardly a surprise that Manny Malhotra was the Carolina Hurricanes’ nominee this season for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

And it shouldn’t be a surprise he’s among the finalists for the annual NHL award.

The NHL announced Wednesday that Malhotra, New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr and New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore were the three finalists. The winner will be announced June 24 during the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best demonstrates perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Malhotra, whose career appeared in jeopardy because of a serious eye injury, was nominated by the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA).

The winner is selected from a poll of the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the winner.

Malhotra, 33, went into the 2013-2014 season without a team and many believed his vision problems – he was hit in the eye by a deflected puck in March 2011 – had ended his career. But he earned a professional tryout with the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes’ American Hockey League affiliate, then signed an NHL contract with the Hurricanes on Oct. 31.

Malhotra served as an alternate captain for the Canes, offering veteran leadership. He played 69 games, finishing with seven goals and six assists, and was second in the NHL in faceoff-win percentage at 59.4 percent.

Asked his definition of perseverance, Malhotra said, “For me, it’s maintaining focus on your goal regardless of what the naysayers say or anyone says. It’s about believing in yourself, believing in your goal and continuing to strive towards that and not allowing any outside factors to deter you from your goal.”

Malhotra’s eye injury came while playing for the Vancouver Canucks, and he was the Canucks’ Masterton nominee in 2012. But the Canucks shut him down early in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, placing him on injured reserve because of concerns about his vision.

“But I always believed,” Malhotra said this season. “I knew that I still had something to contribute to a team.”

Moore, 33, took a personal leave of absence from hockey in 2012 while his wife was suffering from cancer. Katie Moore died in January 2013 at 32, and her husband established the Katie Moore Foundation to help those fighting rare cancers.

Back in the NHL this season, Moore helped the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Jagr hasn’t let his age – he’s 42 – slow him down. He was named the Devils’ MVP this season after leading the Devils in assists, points and game-winning goals.

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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