Canes’ goalie Curtis McElhinney nominated for Masterton Trophy

The Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Curtis McElhinney for the Masterton Trophy, which honors perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

At 35, McElhinney thought any shot to lead a team to the playoffs as a starting goalie was long behind him. A waiver claim two days before opening night, sending him to his seventh NHL team, meant it wasn’t too late after all.

After almost 180 games over 11 years, almost all as a backup, he has made the most of his chance. Claimed as a stopgap solution for the injured Scott Darling, McElhinney emerged as the Hurricanes’ most reliable goaltending option as the team put itself in position to end a decade-long playoff drought.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and been a pro,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Thursday. “I don’t know that you could ask any more out of him, really. He’s done everything exceptionally well and obviously stopping pucks is the No. 1 thing and he’s done that for us.”

Despite being in the twilight of his career, with his knees perpetually encased in ice, McElhinney has set career-highs for starts and wins while playing a vital role in the Hurricanes’ return to competitiveness.

The past two nominees from the Carolina chapter of the PHWA have both been Masterton finalists, Jordan Staal (2018) and Derek Ryan (2017).

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association vote on the NHL’s first and second All-Star teams as well as the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Masterton trophies.

The Carolina chapter also honors one player each year with the Josef Vasicek Award to acknowledge cooperation with the local media.

Past Carolina Masterton Trophy nominees

2018 Jordan Staal (NHL finalist)

2017 Derek Ryan (NHL finalist)

2016 Nathan Gerbe

2015 Nathan Gerbe

2014 Manny Malhotra

2013 Dan Ellis

2012 Jay Harrison

2011 Erik Cole

2010 Rod Brind’Amour

2009 Rod Brind’Amour

2008 Glen Wesley

2007 Erik Cole

2006 Bret Hedican

2005 no season

2004 Rod Brind’Amour

2003 Kevin Weekes

2002 Ron Francis (NHL finalist)

2001 Glen Wesley

2000 Sean Hill

1999 Arturs Irbe

1998 Kevin Dineen

Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.