Canadiens’ Desharnais nominated for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

 

Against 29 others for th prize, Habs' Desharnais fits the criteria for perseverance, dedication, sportsmanship

 
 
 
 
Montreal Canadien David Desharnais, seen here in February with Martin Houle, has been nominated for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, up against 29 other NHL players.
 
 

Montreal Canadien David Desharnais, seen here in February with Martin Houle, has been nominated for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, up against 29 other NHL players.

Photograph by: Allen McInnis, Montreal Gazette

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TAMPA, Fla. — Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre owes David Desharnais an apology.

But Desharnais said Coderre hasn’t contacted him and he doesn’t want to hear the mayor say he’s sorry.

If you came in late, Coderre slipped into fan mode during a Nov. 10 game between the Canadiens and New York Islanders, suggesting the Canadiens give a struggling Desharnais a one-way ticket to Hamilton.

Allo? Un billet simple pour Hamilton pour David Desharnais svp,” Coderre tweeted.

At the time, Desharnais — who had one assist in his first 17 games — treated the comment in the same way he has responded to slights in the past.

“Nobody has to tell me that I have to play better,” said Desharnais, who was a healthy scratch two nights later. “But I’m still confident in what I can do. You’re not going to have a good game every night. I’ve played about 200 NHL games and I’ve had maybe 20 bad ones.”

Desharnais hasn’t had many bad games since Coderre sounded off. He’s the Canadiens’ fourth-leading scorer with 49 points and is heading into the playoffs as the centre on the team’s most productive line.

The 5-foot-7, 170-pounder’s perseverance this season and earlier in his career is the reason the Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Desharnais for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He will be matched against 29 other candidates in leaguewide voting among print reporters covering the National Hockey League.

In recent years, the trophy has become something of a comeback-of-the-year award for a player who has returned from a serious injury. But Desharnais fits the criteria for the award, which include perseverance, dedication to the game and sportsmanship.

Desharnais has those qualities in spades.

The 27-year-old was virtually ignored coming out of midget hockey and was thinking about going the U.S. college route. He recalls being drafted by Cape Breton and wondering where that was in relation to his home outside Quebec City. The Chicoutimi Saguenéens obtained Desharnais’s rights and he became a prolific scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, racking up 97, 118 and 108 points in his final three seasons.

Those numbers failed to excite NHL teams that looked at different numbers. Desharnais was only 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds at the time and teams decided he was too small to play with the big guys.

The one believer was former Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau, who is a part-owner of the Saguenéens. Carbonneau convinced the Canadiens to invite Desharnais to a summer development camp and a good showing there led to an invitation to the Canadiens’ rookie camp and an opportunity to join the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast Hockey League.

Desharnais had 28 goals and 106 points to lead the ECHL in scoring and was on his way. He joined the Hamilton Bulldogs the following season and was leading the American Hockey League in scoring when the Canadiens called him up for the first time during the 2009-10 season.

During his tenure with the Bulldogs, Desharnais met Max Pacioretty and they became close friends on and off the ice. Pacioretty, who has a career-high 35 goals this season, is one of Desharnais’s biggest boosters, calling the centre “the smartest player I’ve ever played with.”

Desharnais and Pacioretty have provided the bulk of the Canadiens’ offence over the past 21 games. Pacioretty has 12 goals and nine assists during that time, while Desharnais has seven goals and 14 assists.

They have become even more dangerous with the addition of trade-deadline acquisition Thomas Vanek on the right wing. Coach Michel Therrien put Vanek on the line in the late stages of a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on March 12. The chemistry has grown since then and Vanek has contributed six goals and five assists in 11 games, while joining the Desharnais fan club.

“Playing against him I was aware that he was a very good player, but now that I’m on the same line I appreciate the things he does,” Vanek said. “He has great vision and he knows how to find the open man.”

 
 
 
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Montreal Canadien David Desharnais, seen here in February with Martin Houle, has been nominated for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, up against 29 other NHL players.
 

Montreal Canadien David Desharnais, seen here in February with Martin Houle, has been nominated for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, up against 29 other NHL players.

Photograph by: Allen McInnis, Montreal Gazette

 
Montreal Canadien David Desharnais, seen here in February with Martin Houle, has been nominated for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, up against 29 other NHL players.
Back in November 2013, Montreal Canadien David Desharnais got a vote of non-confidence from Montreal mayor Denis Coderre on Twitter.
About the Coderre slight, Desharnais (seen here in January) — who had one assist in his first 17 games — said, “Nobody has to tell me that I have to play better. But I’m still confident in what I can do.”
Desharnais hasn’t had many bad games since Coderre sounded off. He’s the Canadiens’ fourth-leading scorer with 49 points and is heading into the playoffs as the centre on the team’s most productive line. Here, Desharnais (centre) celebrates Pacioretty's goal against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Montreal won 4-1.
The 5-foot-7, 170-pounder’s perseverance why the Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Desharnais for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The Bill Masterson Memorial trophy has become something of a comeback-of-the-year award for a player returning from a serious injury, but Desharnais fits the criteria for the award, which include perseverance, dedication to the game and sportsmanship. Here he celebrates with Bouillon and Subban after scoring again the Nashville Predators Dec. 21, 2013.
Leafs’ Jay McClement and Canadiens’ David Desharnais battle for the puck in Montreal on Saturday.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) receives help stopping a shot from teammate David Desharnais (51) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Detroit.
David Desharnais (#51) of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Andrei Markov (#79) and Max Pacioretty (#67) during an NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on January 16, 2014 in Ottawa.
Fans take pictures of Montreal Canadiens centre David Desharnais during the pre game skate during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets, not seen, at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Sunday Feb. 2, 2014.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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