This year's Canadiens nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial trophy is unexpected starting goaltender Mike Condon. The award is handed to the player having best displayed perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game; every team nominates one player and a winner is selected from that group.
Condon usurped the backup role from Dustin Tokarski in training camp and was poised to begin his NHL career behind the reigning Vezina and Hart trophy winner Carey Price, and with the much respected Stéphane Waite as his goalie coach. A major injury thrust Condon to the forefront, forcing the rookie to attempt as best he could to fill Price's rather large skates.
The 25 year-old is posting a losing record and a save percentage typical of a backup netminder, yet has handled himself with grace and class, his effort never waning. He was the scapegoat for many narratives this year, and never stopped trying his best, even after a good start to the season went off the rails. Condon had some excellent stretches of games and even earned himself NHL 3 Stars of the Week nods on two occasions (once in November and once in February.)
Let's not forget that this was never supposed to be Condon's team. He was an undrafted free agent from the NCAA. He is two years removed from being in the ECHL and a year ago at this time was barely on the radar for an NHL job.
The Canadiens have had five players win the award in the past (Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Serge Savard, Saku Koivu and Max Pacioretty). While Mike Condon is not likely to win the votes necessary to claim the trophy, the recognition by the team is well-deserved.