The Buffalo chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Sabres forward Mike Grier as its nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given annually since 1968 to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Grier was too hurt to practice for part of the season, and even games were a struggle with the 36-year-old slowly taking his cranky knee to the bench at the end of shifts. Yet for a month he continued to lace the skates, providing the veteran leadership the team needed. The Sabres had several young forwards playing key roles, and Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe credited Grier for showing them how to grow into the pros who helped the Sabres' second-half surge.
Grier is an off-ice leader, too, as the prime point man for Buffalo's Skating Association for the Blind and Handicapped (SABAH).
Each chapter of the PHWA nominates a player, and the winner is selected in a poll of all chapters at the end of the regular season. A grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner. The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers' Association in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited, to a high degree, the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, after an injury sustained during a hockey game.
Two Sabres players have won the trophy, Don Luce in 1975 and Pat LaFontaine in 1995.