Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is officially the team's nominee for the 2021 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
His future with Detroit appeared bleak at best after suffering a season-ending back injury that required surgery last season, and being placed on waivers shortly into the 2020-21 season.
However, after a brief stint on the team taxi squad, DeKeyser would once again don the Winged Wheel on a regular basis en route to appearing in 47 games, scoring four goals and eight assists combined with a plus-3 rating.
“Coming out of training camp I was definitely struggling a bit for sure,” DeKeyser said after Saturday’s season finale at Columbus. “Nine or 10 games in, they sat me down and told me to work on some stuff and try to get back healthy. It had been so long since I played. One of my goals going into the year was first of all just try to play, and then try to get better as the weeks and months wore on.
“Second half of the season, I definitely felt a lot better. I was moving better. I felt stronger out there.”
Should DeKeyser ultimately win the award, he'd be the first Red Wings player to do so since Steve Yzerman earned the honor in 2003 following his return from his knee realignment surgery that kept him out for the first three quarters of the 2002-23 season.
– – Quotes via Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press Link – –