Henceforth, we will have to stop looking at the players chosen in the sixth round of the NHL selection session. For there are many fine examples of perseverance and devotion.
This is the case of Paul Byron, who was selected as the Montreal Canadiens’ candidate for the Bill-Masterton Trophy for the 2016-2017 season.
In a ballot with the Montreal Chapter of the National League Hockey Chronicles Association, Byron scored 25 points with five first-place, four second-place and two third-place votes.
He was preferred to veteran defenseman Andrei Markov, who scored 23 points, even though he had six first place votes, one more than Byron. Alexander Radulov was third with seven points.
“This is an incredible honor. Many players in the team could have been selected. This is a moment of which I am proud, “said Byron.
Since 1968, the Bill-Masterton Trophy has been presented annually to the NHL player who has demonstrated the finest example of determination, perseverance and sportsmanship in hockey.
Masterton, a former Minnesota North Stars player, died on January 15, 1968 as a result of an injury suffered in an NHL game.
The Canadian striker will try to become the sixth recipient of the trophy in the history of the team, and the first since Max Pacioretty, at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
“He deserves everything that happens to him,” Brendan Gallagher said. This is the example of the player who never gave up. He sometimes thought of going to play in Europe, his name was subjected to the ballottage. There are not many people who believed in him, but he believed in him and he persevered. It’s really special. ”
According to head coach Claude Julien, one of the keys to Byron’s success lies in his attitude.
“It’s a guy who has really made his way through his career, and to see the way he plays today is really well deserved. He is a good skater, a guy who does not shrink from anything, he plays like a player much more imposing physically. He has a lot of good qualities for a coach. ”
The quest for a dream
Byron, 27 years old, has a season beyond expectation. In 72 games, Byron collected 20 goals, 17 assists and 37 points, career highs in each of the four categories.
Only Pacioretty (33) scored more goals than Byron in the Habs. His efficiency percentage of 22.7 percent (20 goals on 88 shots) is the best of the team, if we exclude newcomer Jordan Benn.
His defensive ratio of plus-15 also gives him the second rung for the Canadian in this chapter, just behind Shea Weber (plus-16).
In spite of his 5 feet 9 inches and 160 pounds, Byron has so far distributed 100 checks, which ranks him fifth among all the players of the Canadian, and second among the attackers of the team.
All of this comes from a player chosen 179th by the Buffalo Sabers in 2007, with whom he played only eight games before being traded to the Calgary Flames in June 2011.
Four years later and after a season cut short by injuries, Byron saw the Flames submit his name to the ballottage on October 5, 2015. The next day, the general manager Marc Bergevin demanded it.
“It was a stressful moment,” he said of the day when he was told he would have to go through the tie. When my wife and I learned that the Canadian had asked for me, we could not be happier to come back to the house. ”
Despite his stature and health problems, Byron never lost sight of the dream that gradually developed into his little boy’s head growing up in Ottawa’s west end. It was the time when he started watching games with his father on Saturday night and enjoying the outdoor skating rink that he had built in the back yard, decorated with a logo in the center.
“I never thought about giving up hockey. It’s been part of my life since I was 2 years old. It’s anchored in me. Everything I’ve done in my life revolves around hockey and I do not know what I would do without it, “says Byron, who signed a three-year contract in February 2016.
“There are times, when you recover from an injury, where you wonder if European hockey would not be a better option because the timing, travel and style of play are less stressful. Such thoughts cross your mind. However, I always thought I was good enough to play in the NHL, and my dream is to win the Stanley Cup. I want to keep this dream and it is a goal that I want to achieve. ”