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Pothier Nominated for Masterton

Sometimes choosing a nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is tough. This season, however, the choice was easy for the Washington chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

Because if there is anyone who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey," that player is Brian Pothier, who, of course, returned last month from a 14-month layoff with post-concussion syndrome and then scored his first goal since December 2007 in Friday's 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.

"The situation I went through is just an example of life," Pothier said earlier today. "Sometimes things are great and sometimes things are not great. It's a matter of having a goal and staying focused on it and figuring things out along the way.

"A motto of mine is: 'It's not what happens to you, it's how you react to it.' The last few years, my faith has gone, my perspective on life has grown quite a bit."

"It's been quite a road. The first goal we had was just to be functional. When that happened, I said, 'Hey, let's keep pressing and hopefully I'll get to the point where I can play hockey again.' I've achieved that goal, and it's phenomenal.

"You sort of do take it for granted," he added. "Not that you don't want to be the best that you can be, because we all get frustrated when we don't perform like we should. But when you go through something like [a serious concussion] you realize that you're playing as hard as you possibly can, and working as hard as you possibly can, and sometimes things just go wrong. Sometimes, the puck doesn't bounce the way you want it to. At the end of the day, in the past, you kind of would mope around and pout about things because your whole world is centered around hockey. But you take that away for a year, and your perspective changes quite a bit."

Pothier said he had 28 phone messages waiting for him after he made his return to the NHL on March 16 in Atlanta. Interestingly, he said, he also had 28 messages waiting for him after scoring last week.

"I don't know if it's a significant number, but it's a funny thing," he said with a laugh. "It was old college buddies, old coaches, friends of the family, everyone. The support has been phenomenal."

If the 31-year-old's return from a career-threatening concussion wasn't enough, Pothier's circuitous journey from New Bedford, Mass., to R.P.I. to the Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL to the NHL also qualifies him for the nomination.

"My draft year came and went three times and I didn't think twice about it," he said. "Honestly, I didn't know what the OHL was. Never heard of it. It was all about Boston College and B.U. Then about my junior year, I had a good year and at the end of the year and, I said to myself, 'Next year is my senior year. Maybe I could do this professionally somehow.' Maybe play down in Carolina or Mississippi or some nice weather [place], do some golfing, make a couple of bucks and it's kind of taken off from there."

And now he's in the third year of a four-year, $10 million contract, playing hockey at its highest level and is among 30 peers vying for the Masterton, which last year was won by Toronto's Jason Blake.

"Dedication and perseverance," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He missed 14 months with his fourth concussion. To be able to come all the way back, through all the pitfalls he's had, I can't find another person more suited for that. He sort of officially came all the way back when he scored a goal and now he's playing regularly on our blue line. That's a tremendous feat."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 31, 2009; 11:02 PM ET
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He deserves it.

Posted by: uncatim | March 31, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I'll second that, uncatim.

Bonus points for tomorrow's game: Jon Sim is still in Bridgeport.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | March 31, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I think Richard Zednik is going to win this year. Coming back from nearly dying a rather gruesome and bloody death on the ice and all. Not that I don't think Brian deserves it, its just, well, if my throat ever got slashed like that, I'd never step on the ice again.

Posted by: RedBirdie | March 31, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Man, it is great to hear a young man speak with such wisdom. A tribute to the uniform he wears!! If the Cap's CAN somehow win the cup this year, I will be so happy for Brian and the other players who share his blue collar ethic. The Alex's are great but they need the Brian's on the team to get the job done. Offense puts people in the stands but defense wins!!! I'm glad we have both.

Posted by: sonikitty1 | March 31, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Zed's having a career year and a big part of the reason that the Cats are making a serious run for the playoffs. Plus, his injury has no lingering physical effects (psychological, yes). The same can't be said for a 4th concussion. I just hope that Pothier doesn't suffer long-term damage from his concussions.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | March 31, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, I think Pothier is definitely a worthy choice. Such great perseverance, and an incredible attitude!

Zednik is also a very worthy candidate for the Masterson! I would not be surprised if he got it. I would indeed be very happy for him as well! No matter where he plays, I think I will always be a bit of a Zed head--minus the bleach blonde hair part!

Remember in the late 90's or 00's when our young guns were Zednik, Bulis and Yogi (I will not even attempt to spell his last name!), I was just thinking about them the other night--I still have a newspaper clipping from a feature the Post did on them years back! :)

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 1, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Yeah; Pothier definitely deserves it! :) That's a heck of a comeback he's had.

Zednik deserves it, too, though, and it wouldn't surprise me if he did get it.

I would be pleased for either of them. :)

Posted by: irockthered | April 1, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

i remember when i had a terrible hangover one year and missed a couple of days work - none of my co-workers nominated me for comeback employee of the year. i think they were all just a bunch of jealous b*stards! i.was.worthy!!

i'm bored - why isn't it 4p tomorrow yet?

zednik was in more immediate danger than pothier - but once he had his surgery he was more likey to come back. pothier was just about written off. my vote is 1/2 for each.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 1, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Kirk, you missed a couple of days with a *hangover*?!? I would make an old people joke, but I think I'm outnumbered. ;-D

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 1, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

that was nothing compared to the hangnail incident - didn't miss much time - but wasn't even at 50% capacity for weeks :)

i can take 'old people' jokes. anything will be better than another 18h15m of this non-caps hockey boredom h*ll that i'm in right now.
fyi - the first story wasn't really true - just fun to imagine

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 1, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Haha! Well, try not to get too bored.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 1, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Ha ha
Bob Errey on Center Ice. They were talking about players using illegal sticks, and he say "well the leading scorer uses a illegal stick" , I was thinking it was strange that Pens homer was dissing his own Pen player, the he retracts and says " the leading goal scorer that is, uses an illegal stick".......always hate to listen to the #1 homer in the league.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 1, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Put a fork in buffalo they are done!

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 1, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse


Yes, I remember those young guys that never quite panned out like we hoped.

Jaroslav “Yogi” Svejkovsky netted 38 for the Portland Pirates in 1996-97. Yogi Svejkovsky scored four goals for Washington in the final game of the 1996-97 season.

Posted by: crooks_c | April 1, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

@ The_Stanley_Caps

OMG! I have been talking anout that for 2 months and have been stumped on Yogi "what's his name"! Please spell it out!

Posted by: IzzySez | April 1, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Great choice, Tarik (and the other 2 members of the Washington Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers group - meetings held weekly at Baileys in the Ballston Mall after practice...). I think last year the Q was the choice, another fine one.

Pothier probably has no chance because of the timing (and that Zed is a great story). If he had come back next year or earlier this year and put up some numbers, then he might have a chance at winning. I'm going to bet that Pothier doesn't actually care if he wins; he's probably just happy to be back playing.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 1, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Congrats deserve it!

Posted by: NatyBG | April 1, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tarik, can you double check this quote:

"A motto of mine is: 'It's not what happens to you, it's how you react to it.' The last few years, my faith has gone, my perspective on life has grown quite a bit."

Considering that Pothier spoke about his faith growing in December (, I'm surprised that he would say "my faith has gone".

Is that a misspelling or is it way out of context? Thanks.

Posted by: Tinkeric | April 1, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

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