Sean Couturier nominated for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers
Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Sean Couturier was named the Philadelphia Flyers nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He was selected by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. 

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey." Looking at what Couturier has gone through over the last two years, he is the perfect nominee.

"The back's been feeling great. I'm really happy with that. There was a lot of questions and doubts over the last year and a half, two years, about how I'd recover and respond." Couturier said in a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Couturier missed nearly two seasons of hockey and was thought to be in jeopardy of continuing his NHL career. The first back surgery took place in February after months of questions about what he was dealing with. That officially ended his season even though he had been sidelined since mid-December of the 2021-22 season. Couturier mentioned he wasn't necessarily concerned after the first surgery. He was ready to get going for next year.

It was the second surgery that him a bit more concerned.

"The first time I wasn't too worried, I was just like 'Okay, done for the year. I'll be back next year. It's time to get ready for next season.' But when that got taken away from me right before camp, that was kind of tough to accept. Started having doubts and questions about 'Is this gonna just keep coming back every time?' So yeah, I'm glad the second surgery and everything went well."

Two weeks before the following season, Couturier spoke about being cleared to play. Things took a turn after that. He stopped skating as the pain began to come back. The Flyers tried an epidural, which briefly took the pain away. After symptoms came back in a few weeks, all sides decided to have a second surgery. The recovery time was similar to the first, about three to four months. Couturier returned to skate with the team for the first time in mid-March. And while he could have returned at the end of the season, they felt there was no need to risk anything with the Flyers out of the playoff picture.

Having missed that much time, everyone wondered what Couturier would look like once he did step back on the ice. He surprised many at the beginning of this season, looking close to his Selke-winning self. He was playing 20+ minutes a night and was one of the team's best players. After playing without a captain since the trade of Claude Giroux, Couturier was given the honor in mid-February.

"It was definitely an honor and a great tap on my back I guess, or a vote of confidence. I know there was still doubts and questions all year long if my back would be able to sustain a full season. Now that it's behind me and it was a tough period in my career, in my life the last year and a half. To kind of get over it and just focus on playing hockey and doing what I love most, that's the most enjoying thing out of this whole history."

Couturier, currently out with a shoulder sprain, could become the fifth Flyers' player to take home the Masterton. Bobby Clarke (1972), Tim Kerr (1989), Ian Laperriere (2011), and Oskar Lindblom (2021) have all taken home the award.

"It's obviously a big honor to go through any adversity and come back with some kind of success. I think we each have our own stories, different background, different stories, different adversities to go through. Like you said, I remember Oskar's, his was a lot worse than mine health-wise. Like I said, we each have our stories. I guess it's how you approach it and go through it. It would be a great honor to win it next to Oskar. I think Lappy won it a couple years prior. Each nominee has their own story, their own things they go through. It's not really one's more important than the other. I feel it's really just how you get through it"