Brian Pothier never thought he was going to be an NHL player as a kid, but he has become a pretty good one despite not being drafted and not being signed by an NHL team after college. Considering the odds he beat just to make it to the NHL and then become a quality player at this level, should anyone be surprised that he has come back to the Caps after missing 14 months because of a concussion and his vision issues afterwards.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey” by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and Pothier was an easy choice as the nomination from the Washington chapter this season.
“What I went through is just an example of life,” Pothier said. “Sometimes things are great, and sometimes they’re not so great. It is just a matter of having a goal and staying focused on it. One that I live by or whatever, a motto I guess, is ‘It is not what happens to you – it is how you react to it.’ Over the past few years my faith has grown, my perspective has grown a bit and it has been an interesting time.”
There will be a story in tomorrow’s paper about Pothier and his nomination. There will be plenty of great nominees, and maybe I’m biased, but it would seem like Pothier should be one of the finalists for the award. The trophy isn’t just supposed to go to the guy who went through the worst injury/illness, but it often does. That said, few players represent words like dedication and perseverance like Pothier has — and not just in the past 14 months.
Here are a few other quotes that didn’t make the story:
“I think you do take it for granted,” Pothier said. “Not that you don’t want to be the best that you can be because we all get frustrated when we don’t perform like we should, but after you go through something like that, you’re going out and playing as hard as you possibly can and working as hard as you possibly can, but sometimes things just go wrong. At the end of the day in the past you would mope around or pout because your whole world is centered around hockey. When you take that away for a year, it changes your perspective a bit.”
Added Brooks Laich: “He’s a fighter. He was undrafted but sometimes slip through the cracks like that. It is his determination and his work ethic and his refusal to give in. He’s battled back and worked so hard. You would see him on days where just walking on the treadmill for five minutes was a huge day for him and now you look at how hard he practiced for the past two months just to get back into game shape and his mind back into it.”
“There’s a lot of other things that come into it,” Laich said. “Brian is a family man – he’s got two young boys and a wife and they were obviously worried about his safety. They made a huge sacrifice while he was hurt. There were days when he couldn’t spend time with his kids because of the headaches and stuff. I think the award, as much as it goes to him if he wins, it goes to his family.”