Forward Mark Letestu is the Winnipeg Jets’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The 35-year-old was selected in a vote by the Winnipeg chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The award is given out annually to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Letestu joined the Jets as a free agent last summer, but only appeared in seven games before he was diagnosed with a heart condition in October called myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle.
He was expected to miss the rest of the season, but was cleared to play in March. He resumed skating with the Jets and was starting a conditioning stint with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose when the coronavirus pandemic forced the league to shut down.
“It’s an honour, for sure. I didn’t expect to be nominated for any NHL awards,” Letestu told reporters on a conference call. “Perseverance, dedication, those words are pretty special to me. The unfortunate part of the award is it seems like you have to go through something, a little negative experience.”
The Alberta product has 93 goals and 117 assists in 567 career NHL games with the Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Edmonton Oilers.
The trophy is given in memory of former Minnesota North Star Bill Masterton, who died in 1968 after being injured on the ice during an NHL game.
Letestu is one of 31 candidates for the NHL award. Dmitry Kulikov was the Jets’ nominee last season.
Winnipeg’s Travis Zajac is the nominee from the New Jersey Devils, while Morweena’s James Reimer is the Carolina Hurricanes’ nominee.