It has been nearly one year since Oskar Lindblom rang the ceremonial bell.
Fight. Inspire. Overcome. Celebrate.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) July 2, 2020
On July 2, 2020, the Philadelphia Flyers winger was declared cancer free, following an eight-month battle with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
On Tuesday, following a full season back in the NHL, Lindblom was awarded the 2021 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player who best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey.
The award is voted by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Each local chapter submits a nominee from the team it covers. Then, the group as a whole votes for the top three finalists.
At 23, Lindblom had been playing the best hockey of his life before receiving his diagnosis in December of 2019. His third NHL season had started as a breakout year, as he recorded 18 points, including a team-leading 11 goals, in 30 games.
Looking back on the last 12 months, Lindblom told reporters on Wednesday that his journey has been “up and down.” Now back in his offseason home in his native Sweden, he’s grateful for the opportunity to spend time with family. “Just enjoying life and to be able to do whatever I want to, and I feel energized again.”
Last September, Lindblom was able to return to the ice for the Flyers’ final two playoff games against the New York Islanders. This season, he appeared in 50 of the Flyers’ 56 games. He missed three games in February while he was on the NHL’s Covid Protocol List, along with a number of his teammates. Later, with the entire team struggling, he was healthy scratched three times during an 11-game stretch from March 17 to April 5.
“Oskar is a young man that continues to impress us with his level of commitment and character,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher in a statement on Tuesday. “To go through what he went through and return to the team during our playoffs in the Toronto bubble shows an incredible amount of determination and courage. He followed that up by working extremely hard to prepare for a full season in which he had an immediate impact in our room and on the ice.”
A special moment came the first time he got to see his teammates after he started treatment. They had just returned from a difficult road trip.
“They got back home and I met them at the at the Wells Fargo,” he said. “I remember that moment so good, because everyone’s so happy to see me. And I was so happy to see them — I felt like they can relax a little bit as well when they saw me again. I was feeling pretty good at that time too, so it gave them a little bit of energy and they gave me energy as well.”
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Bobby Ryan Does The Honors
Last season, Bobby Ryan received the Masterton Trophy, in recognition for his return to the NHL after a battle with alcohol abuse, and his commitment to helping others overcome similar challenges. Lindblom was also the Flyers’ 2020 nominee and was named a finalist for the award, along with Stephen Johns of the Dallas Stars.
This year, Ryan presented the award to Lindblom virtually.
— NHL (@NHL) June 15, 2021
This season was challenging, both physically and mentally. Lindblom says he’s now striving to get back to playing at the same high level as before his diagnosis.
“I want to be the player I was before I got sick,” he said. “I feel good right now, working out and all that. So that’s my goal and I just need to really push myself this summer to really get back in shape. And hopefully I can be the player I was, if not better.”
Lindblom is the fourth Flyer to receive the Masterton award in franchise history. He follows Bobby Clarke (1972), Tim Kerr (1989) and new Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere (2011).
This year’s other Masterton finalists were Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks, whose 1,768th career NHL game on April 19 moved him ahead of Gordie Howe at the top of the league’s all-time games-played list, and Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild, who has been at the forefront of NHL players’ efforts to eradicate racism in the game and make hockey a more inclusive sport.
Couturier’s Selke Reign Ends
Also on the awards front, Sean Couturier’s reign as the Frank J. Selke Trophy holder came to an end on Friday. Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers was named the 2021 recipient of the award. Barkov was the 2019 winner of the Lady Byng Trophy. He has been a top-10 finisher in Selke voting in three previous seasons. This year marked the first time as a finalist for the 25-year-old Florida Panthers captain.
Four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins finished second in the voting for the second-straight year. Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights, a finalist for the second time, finished third.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 19, 2021
Couturier, a two-time finalist, finished 15th this year. He received one third-place vote, two for fourth place, and one for fifth.