Pisani for Masterton

This is Fernando Pisani in a photo that I believe to be from Providence College (source: SIHR).

Edmonton is a fairly big city but in many ways it is just a series of small towns. Last summer, in each community, rich or poor, there was a heartfelt concern about Fernando Pisani. Some wild rumors ran around town for awhile, but as time marched on we came to know he was suffering from ulcerative colitis and at the very least his career was in jeopardy.

Quoting a March 2008 Edmonton Sun article Pisani stated “It was really, really secondary playing hockey, I just wanted to get better. I tried not to think about my career possibly being over, my focus was just on trying to get healthy and hoping that the meds would work and I would avoid surgery and all that stuff. I was always hopeful that it would work out and I never really accepted the alternative which was surgery.”

He lost 30 pounds, missed the first 26 games of the season. Slowly he got better, well enough to skate, well enough to practice, well enough to play and by season’s end well enough to pop a baker’s dozen and reclaim his position as the smartest winger on the town team.

There are better players on the Edmonton Oilers, but none more admirable. I’ll follow the vote, but any fool can see he’s already a winner.

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20 Responses to "Pisani for Masterton"

  1. Bruce says:

    Pisani, check.
    Blake, check.
    Chelios, check.

    Pisani, check.
    Blake, check.
    Chelios, check.

    Pisani, check.

  2. Black Dog says:

    Exactly Bruce.

    And LT, well said. As always.

  3. GSC says:

    Jason Blake will get the Masterton…deservedly or not. Toronto will do their best to project the idea that they’re still somehow relevant in the NHL. While Jason was diagnosed with leukemia, he never deteriorated physically to the point of Pisani, nor was he ever in the same imminent danger as Fernando.

    This will be a crime, I have a horrible feeling about it.

  4. PunjabiOil says:

    Good on Pisani for overcoming the steep hill. For that, he’s won a spot in my heart.

    At the same rate, his recovery demonstrates the fact that the rich have better access to healthcare than the common folk, who may have to wait months to see a specialist in growing Alberta.

  5. CrazyCoach says:

    I was glad to see Fernando Pisani get nominated for this award.

    You give me 20 guys like Pisani with his smarts, guts, heart, and I’ll bring you the cup.

  6. pboy says:

    That was great Bruce. Pisani should win the Masterton and I understand why Blake was nominated but why Chelios? Did he cheapshot a few less guys this season or is there some other reason?

  7. Lowetide says:

    Chelios is o-l-d. I think it’s great he’s nominated although it’s doubtful he wins.

  8. doritogrande says:

    Honestly, Chelios has a good shot at this. As Bruce already mentioned, he’s got the dedication and perserverence. And I’d argue that he’s got a fair bit of sportsmanship also. He was one of the leaders against the former NHLPA dude, so he’s also looking out for his fellow players. That’s sportsmanship in my books.

    If either Pisani of Chelios win, I won’t have a problem.

    I don’t like the Blake selection because he had a treatable form of Leukemia. That’s read treatable. He played 82 games, so it’s not like the injury caused him to miss time. He also had a terrible season offensively. He went through treatment but didn’t grow from it. I’d argue against Bruce’s statement that Blake has Perserverance.

  9. Bruce says:

    DG: You should watch Blake play. 5’10”, 180, and doesn’t give an inch to anybody. Nobody gave him a goddam thing, he had to take it for himself and has scratched out a pretty respectable career against the odds. 130 of his 149 career goals have come after his 29th birthday. The leukemia is the reason he was nominated; the perseverance dates back way before then.

  10. Shawn says:

    I don’t like the attitude here that somehow Blake’s achievement should be put down because

    a) it’s not Pisani
    b) he plays for the Leafs

    They’re both deserving nominees and lets stop denigrating one of them.

  11. PunjabiOil says:

    Shawn: Why must you violate the one well-known aspect of the Oilogosphere?


  12. doritogrande says:

    I’d take Blake on my team, I’m not downplaying that aspect at all. I just think he’s not as deserving as either Pisani who was forced to miss time because of his injury, or Chelios for what he’s done for other players in the league.

    He’s also on record on TSN as potentially wanting out of TO already, saying that this was the most frustrating year of his career. He’s got a bigass contract but I wouldn’t mind shedding Stoll and Torres for him. I think he’d be good on the second line.


    I’d put him with Hemsky, but I’m not entirely sure he could keep up, and Penner’s got chemistry with the Horc/Hemmer.

  13. Bruce says:

    Shawn/PJO: I don’t know how you can possibly be concerned about “the attitude here” or “groupthink” in this thread, when exactly two people mentioned they weren’t keen on the Blake selection. I for one understand the reason for the selection, and have a fair bit of respect for Blake (and Chelios too for that matter). I do however think that Pisani is the most deserving because he has always exhibited first-class sportsmanship as well as the other two qualities, whereas the other two candidates both have been under the microscope for cheap shots from time to time.

    Chelios has never been my favourite, but I have to respect a guy who rides an exercise bike in the sauna to maintain his extraordinary level of fitness right into his mid 40s. He’s a competitive son of a bitch who battles every inch of the way, and I respect that too, esp. when he sets his sights on Bob Goodenow or Gary Bettman (give or take a questionable choice of words on occasion).

    As for Blake, he’s a shit-disturber and a good one. Have no fear of him keeping up with Hemsky, DG, the guy can fly and his legs are moving all the time. But he’ll be 35 years old come training camp, has got four more years to run at a cap number of $4.0 MM, and is coming off a difficult season with a health scare that may or may not be cured. I wouldn’t mind a guy like this on the Oilers, but not this particular guy at this particular time. That contract is a Toronto mistake that Toronto can pay for.

  14. Nuckels says:

    Pisani or Blake should win. Both were terrified of there futures at one point this season, and both managed to get there lives on track.
    Whoever wins is a moot point. Both stories are pretty darn impressive.

  15. Bruce says:

    They are all three good stories. The Masterton is an award for good stories. There’s always a few good ones among the 30 teams, and it’s good that each team has its own candidate nominated. To narrow it down to three or eventually to one doesn’t necessarily do justice to a given season’s crop.

    At least now the hockey writers have got the thing back on track. Back in the late 90s when Gary Roberts and Tony Granato — two of the least sportsmanlike players in the NHL — won it in back-to-back years, then Slava Fetisov didn’t win it despite writing one of the best perseverance and dedication to hockey stories ever told, I had almost completely given up hope for this trophy.

    When was the last time an Oiler was a finalist for any trophy? Fernando, Roli and CFP were all mentioned for the Smythe in ’06 but that trophy has no finalists per se, just a winner. It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve had a guy even in the running for a trophy or an All-Star berth or an All-Rookie or anything. Who am I forgetting?

  16. PDO says:


    Wasn’t Arnott up for the Calder? That’s all I got.

    CFP should’ve been up for the Norris as well, but c’est la vie.

  17. Bruce says:

    PDO: Pronger never even made the second All-Star Team, a distinction he achieved the year before and the year after. No Oiler has made the end-of-season AST since 1989-90, when Mark Messier was the first team centre.
    Pretty depressing, with another shutout inevitable in 2007-08, that makes 17 seasons and 204 All-Stars since the last Oiler made the grade.

    That was also the last year an Oiler won a major individual trophy, as Messier copped the Hart and Bill Ranford won the Smythe. The Oilers also won a major trophy as a team, namely the Stanley Cup. (I guess we should take some solace from the Clarence Campbell Bowl in ’06.)

    Three Oilers have made the All-Rookie Team over its 25-year history: Geoff Smith in 1989-90, Jason Arnott in 1993-94, and Tom Poti in 1998-99. Tom Gilbert has a fighting chance to make the 2007-08 team (in a free-for-all with Enstrom, Niskanen, Edler, and Erik Johnson), but Gagner and Cogliano are likely just behind Backstrom, Kane and Toews up front.

    While ASTs and ARTs are on the record, “finalists” for trophies are not easily accessible. My memory isn’t what it once was; if we’ve had one since Arnott was up for the Calder, I’ve forgotten.

  18. David says:

    Pisani is the definition of why some bad contracts are worth paying anyway.

  19. PunjabiOil says:

    The Pisani picture reminds me of the show, ”The Wonder Years”

  20. RiversQ says:

    This is great stuff.

    “Dude, my guy’s colitis was way worse than your guy’s leukemia.”

    The arguments are fairly ridiculous.

    As a rule, I hate awards in sports because they very rarely seem to reflect reality.

    However, the Masterton trophy is something of a rarity because it has nothing to do with anything that can be measured.

    It’s lame, but I don’t think the winner matters. A nomination is good enough for anyone involved.

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