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Graves is Avalanche 2019-20 nomination for Masterton Trophy

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Ryan Graves

We, at the Colorado chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, had about 24 hours to get in our votes for the Bill Masterton Trophy today. By majority vote, we hereby nominate Ryan Graves for the honor. Here is the bio for Graves as part of our nomination. I wrote it. I’m the Colorado chairman of the PHWA. (Please don’t use any Derek Smalls references in your response}.

But here it is. And before that, a refresher on what the Masterton Trophy is all about: The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. It is named after Bill Masterton, the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game.”

Ryan Graves isn’t someone who overcame some kind of major personal challenge to receive the nomination for this trophy. Well, unless you count nearly five years spent in the one rung below the NHL, as a draft pick of one team (Rangers) who was traded away for another supposedly disappointing prospect (Chris Bigras). 
Graves, 25, was just an “injury callup” in the 2018-19 season and played mostly sparingly for a team that didn’t play him at all in the playoffs of that spring of 2019. He came back to training camp still considered a longshot to make the Avs’ roster. But he made it, and then turned in a season that…LED THE NHL IN PLUS-MINUS, at plus 40. He heard doubters that he’d ever make it in the NHL, but he just kept grinding away and became a great story in perseverance. 
Ryan is a true sportsman, in that he was always available to the media, win or lose. That’s a real sportsman, in the spirit of Bill Masterton. 

Most of my experience about this trophy: It usually goes to “saddest story wins”, often a personal comeback from some medical malady or some kind of other family tragedy. Ryan Graves’ grandfather died this past year, but that doesn’t mean he deserves the trophy. He deserves it, I think, because he just kept grinding away at his craft, after nearly five full years in the minors, hearing how he was a “disappointment” as a prospect.

He was considered a longshot to win a roster spot with the Avs in training camp. He didn’t play much the first few games, even after making the roster. Then, Ryan Graves went on to lead ALL of the NHL in plus-minus, with a plus-40, at the time of the coronavirus shutdown to the regular season.

That’s real perseverance. He’s a good kid, too. Win or lose, he’s always available to the media. That’s a true sportsman, -in the memory of Bill Masterton.

(There were six voters for this nomination: They were: myself, Mike Chambers, AJ Haefele, Ryan Clark, Ryan Boulding and Pat Graham. A seventh, Dale Bublitz of the AP, passed away earlier in the year. RIP Bubbles)

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Adrian Dater, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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