WILMINGTON, Mass. — There’s no restriction on members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association nominating fighters for the Masterton Trophy.
It’s just that the “sportsmanship” aspect of the award tends to diminish the chances that players who drop the gloves will fit the criteria.
However, members of the Boston chapter of the PHWA this season nominated Bruins fight leader Shawn Thornton for the award, which goes to the player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” Today was the first day the voters got to discuss the award with Thornton.
“It’s an honor. I’m very flattered to be nominated,” said Thornton after practice at Ristuccia Arena. “It’s great. This will be the only day I ever talk nicely about [the writers].”
As far as racking up 14 fighting majors and still showing the qualities that go with strong sportsmanship, Thornton’s reputation precedes him. He has never been disciplined by the NHL and has been known to adhere to “the code” when it comes to not hitting players when they’re not ready or when they’re down.
“Obviously I stick up for my teammates. I don’t think I’m a knucklehead when it comes to fighting,” Thornton said. “I think I’m pretty honest about it; abide by the rules. I think you can be a sportsman and still get the gloves off every now and again, I don’t know. There’s guys in this league that never fight that are definitely not sportsmen, so I think I go the other way.”
Thornton will be one of 30 nominees for the award. The entire PHWA will then vote on a national winner from among those 30.