Oskar Lindblom was in the midst of a career season but is being acknowledged for something much bigger than his on the ice play.
Lindblom is one of three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an annual NHL award given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. Masterton, the man memorialized by the trophy, died in 1968 as a result of injuries he sustained during a January game against the California Seals.
This season, just 30 games into the season Lindblom got notice that he was being diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. His season was over in December but his fight had just begun as Lindblom began treatment quickly. In addition to chemotherapy, a port device was placed and sewed into his chest, which would take care of the daily dose of his five medication cocktail.
On July 2nd, Lindblom rang the bell in the Abramson Cancer Center signaling he had completed his final chemotherapy treatment. With applause joining the bell ringing and 23 t-shirts and jerseys lining the hallways Lindblom seems to have come out the other side. With cancer flipped over the boards for now (there will still be periodic checks to make sure nothing returns) Lindblom will do his best to get back on the ice sometime in the future for the Flyers, but even if he doesn’t he has achieved a great accomplishment worthy of recognition.
The fellow nominees for the award are Stephen Johns of the Dallas Stars and Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators. This season Johns made his return to the ice from post concussion symptoms after dealing with those and other mental health issues. Ryan entered the NHL/NHLPA Player’s Assistance program for alcohol addiction. After 3 months off the ice, Ryan returned and scored a hat trick in his comeback game. He has also been vocal about his battles and struggles as well.
Previously, Bobby Clarke (1971-72), Tim Kerr (1988-89), and Ian Laperriere (2010-11) have all won the award.