clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kris Letang wins 2023 Masterton Trophy

The Pens defender wins trophy for dedication and perseverance

NHL: JAN 24 Panthers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kris Letang capped his tumultuous 2022-23 season by winning an award Monday night at the NHL’s award ceremony. Letang was announced as the winner of the Bill Masterton trophy.

The Masterton has been given out since 1968, per the NHL to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

Unfortunately, that recognition also comes with a difficult journey to showcase perseverance and Letang (who was a finalist for the Masterton in 2015 as well) went through the ringer this season off the ice.

Letang suffered his second stroke on November 28th, but fortunately was able to pass all tests and was eager to get back to normalcy. He hardly wanted to stop skating and working out at all and the team could barely keep him at bay from getting on the ice for a series of individual twirls around the ice. Letang was only out of team practices for 10 days and back in the lineup within two weeks, a true medical marvel on its own to only be a small bump in the road, considering the circumstances.

Sadly, that would not be the only troubles he would have to endure. About a month later, Letang dealt with another blow when his father passed away in Quebec. Sidelined with an unrelated lower body injury, Letang was away from the team for a few weeks before returning for the rest of the season. Understandably, Letang admitted that he was “never really able to get into a groove” for the final few months of the season but still logged his typical workload of 25 minutes per game and tallied 12 goals and 41 points in 64 games.

Along the way, Letang still found a way to make a memorable impact. There was arguably no bigger or happier moment in Pens’ whole season when Letang completed a storybook return to action by scoring in overtime in his first game back from the loss of his father against Florida in January to cap a season-high four-point game for defender.

Former Penguin Matt Murley caught up with Letang before the awards show with a quick interview.

In a special twiest, on the stage to introduce and talk about Letang’s season was teammate, housemate and friend Pierre-Olivier Joseph to talk about the year that Letang went through.

Letang becomes the third Penguin to win the award while playing for Pittsburgh, joining Mario Lemieux (1993, when he played during his cancer battle and won the scoring title) and Lowell MacDonald (1973, became an All-Star after returning from a career-threatening knee injury that cost him almost two years).

The team has employed several players who won the Masterton either before or after their Pittsburgh stints (Brian Boyle, 2018; Jaromir Jagr, 2016; Steve Sullivan, 2009; Phil Kessel, 2007; John Cullen 1999, Gary Roberts 1996).

The Masterton could be described as the one major award that no player ever sets out in hopes of having to win, but Letang can live up to the honor of being recognized for his steadfast dedication and perseverance as much as anyone.

In his touching acceptance speech, Letang called it a family award for the tough year they all went through and gave his wife extra credit for all the stress she went through this year as well.