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Oskar Lindblom Wins 2020-21 Masterton Trophy

June 16, 2021, 4:30 AM ET [241 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
A runner-up last season for the Masterton Trophy, which goes to a player who exemplifies "perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication" to the sport of hockey, Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom has won the award for the 2020-21 season. In December 2019, Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer more frequently found in pediatric patients than in adults.

At the time of his diagnosis, Lindblom was leading the Flyers in goal-scoring. The previous year, after interim head coach Scott Gordon promoted Lindblom at mid-season from a fourth-line role to the middle six of the lineup, Lindblom scored 13 goals over the season's final 37 games to tie Travis Konecny for third on the team.

Over the next half-year following his cancer diagnosis, Lindblom underwent a rigorous course of chemotherapy. He also underwent rib removal surgery to ensure that no detectable cancer remained. On July 2, 2020, Lindblom ceremonially rang the bell at the Abramson Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, signifying the end of his treatments.

Although he had lost a lot of weight and muscle mass, Lindblom almost miraculously made it back into the Flyers' lineup for two games in their seven-game Eastern Conference Semifinal series loss to the New York Islanders. His return to the ice came after the voting period ended for the 2019-20 Masterton Trophy but he nonetheless was selected as one of the three finalists among the 31 nominees (one per team) voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA).

During the 2020 offseason (autumn through December), Lindblom regained some muscle mass but he was still playing catch-up in the physical strength and conditioning departments. One of the NHL's most underrated forecheckers and an effective two-way player -- in addition to showing an ability to score in close to the net -- prior to the Ewing Sarcoma diagnosis, Lindblom was not nearly as consistently effective during the 2020-21 season as he'd been before his cancer battle. His energy levels noticeably fluctuated over the course of the compacted schedule. Nonetheless, he scored eight goals, all at even strength.

Lindblom's inconsistency on the ice over the course of his return season, which also included a bout with COVID-19 (fortunately, his symptoms were mild), a very abbreviated training camp and the absence of any preseason tuneup games, was predictable in hindsight. He should be closer to his accustomed form in 2021-22. Far more important than anything related to his play on the ice, all of Lindblom's followup cancer scans have come up clean. He remains medically cancer-free.

Lindblom will speak to the media on Wednesday morning via a Zoom press conference.

"I feel very, very honored and proud to win this award and to compete with these types of players like (fellow 2020-21 finalists) Matt Dumba and Patrick Marleau that are great players and great people on and off the ice. It's very special for me," said Lindblom in accepting the award from last year's recipient, Bobby Ryan.

"Just to be able to get back on the ice again was so, so good and I can't say more than that. It was an awesome feeling to be back on the ice again... I would like to thank my family, my girlfriend, my whole team, the organization and especially the doctors and nurses who have been helping me along the way, and everyone else who have been with me the whole way. I just want to say a big thank you to all of you."
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