The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually by the Professional Hockey Writer's Association to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey".
The trophy was instituted in 1968 by the PHWA, named after the late William ("Bill") Masterton who suffered a fatal head injury while playing for the then-expansion Minnesota North Stars earlier in the 1967-68 season. A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is also donated annually to the Minnesota-based Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund in the winner's name.
Winners and nominees of the award have often overcome injury, illness, career setbacks, and more, while still showing a strong commitment to the league, their team, and the game and fans. They are also noted for giving back to their communities.
Past winners have included stars like Henri Richard (1974), Rod Gilbert (1976), and even Mario Lemieux (1993), as well as other players who may not exactly have been in the spotlight but whose dedication and level of play are both to be admired, such as Tony Granato (1997) and John Cullen (1999).