It was announced on Monday that Tomas Fleischmann had been nominated by the South Florida Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Bill Masterton Trophy that is ultimately given to the player that best exemplifies the qualities of perserverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey. Last year’s award was given to Philadelphia Flyers rugged forward Ian Laperriere for overcoming concussion symptoms after being hit in the face with a puck while blocking a shot during the 2009-2010 playoffs. While he didn’t play for the Flyers in 2010-2011, he was still a valued member of the team in other capacities. Prior to Laperriere the winner was Jose Theodore. The 2008-2009 season was Theodore’s best since he won the MVP award back in 2001-2002. Theodore dealt with the death of his son Chase who had passed away due to complications resulting from his premature birth.
Fleischmann like many winners previously dealt with a serious medical condition that still requires care today. Suffering from blood clots and a pulmonary embolism, Fleischmann is a true testament to the qualities of the award. After playing in only 45 games last season with both the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche, Flash was diagnosed with blood clots in both of his lungs on January 18th, he had to shut down his season immediately. After also being diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, his future as a hockey player was seriously in doubt, and his life was obviously threatened.
Fleischmann was told that he may never play hockey again, which any athelete in their prime will tell you is a difficult message to accept. He spent the summer getting treatment, and going through a battery of tests before he was cleared to play, and was signed on July 1st by Dale Tallon as an unrestricted free agent. Tallon spoke in depth with doctors to make sure that Flash was healthy again, and that he could handle the rigors of a long NHL season.
Fleischmann now takes special blood thinners that he’ll likely have to continue for the rest of his life, and wears special compression pants when traveling on team flights to avoid swelling.
To show you just how remarkable his year has been, Fleischmann is only one of three forwards in the entire NHL to have played in all his teams games so far. He currently leads the Panthers with 52 points (22g-30a), topping his previous high of 51 points set in the 2009-2010 season with the Washington Capitals. Fleischmann has 10 multi-point games this season, and the Panthers are 9-0-1 when he records two points. He also has four game winning goals for the Panthers this season, which places him third on the team in that category.
Each NHL team will nominate one player for the award, and the winner will be announced at the annual NHL Awards ceremony that will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, June 20 at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort.
George Richards of the Miami Herald wrote up a very nice article about Fleischmann that contains comments from Tomas himself as well as head coach Kevin Dineen.
We here at the Rat Trick congratulate Tomas on his nomination, and wish him the best of luck.
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