The Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated defenseman Kevan Miller as the 2020 Masterton Trophy nominee for the Boston Bruins. The Bill Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
“I truly appreciate the nomination,” Miller told PHWA Boston rep Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston. “It’s been quite the journey to get healthy and I’m hoping to persevere and live up to that nomination.”
Miller has been a shining example of the attributes required for the Masterton Award. After breaking his right kneecap twice in a span of just over a month last spring and missing the Bruins’ run to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Miller missed every game this season despite working through a rigorous rehab. When the 2019-20 regular season paused on March 12 thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak, Miller decided to remain in Boston with his family and continue his rehab in the hopes that he would be able to play if and when the season resumed. However, Miller confirmed last month that early on in the pause, he had to have surgery on that right knee once again and would not return if NHL hockey came back. He did however say things going at least a little bit better with the problematic knee.
“As far as hockey and rehab goes, I’m still rehabbing,” the rugged rearguard told Bruins season ticket holders in a virtual town hall last month. “I was on a good trajectory there. I was skating and whatnot, and then I had a setback. So I’m just coming off surgery that I had eight weeks ago. Timing-wise things have been good for me. I’m off crutches now and walking around again. Things are good.”
The fact that after all he’s gone through since originally injuring that right knee on April 4, 2019, Miller can say ‘Things are good’ is just another example of why he was chosen as a Masterton nominee. Given the fact he’s not only gone through this current injury bout but also missed 238 games in his seven NHL seasons, one couldn’t fault the 32-year-old rearguard if he decided to just hang up his skates and retire but Miller, who is headed for unrestricted free agency whenever that begins, made it very clear to Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney when the pause began that he plans on playing past this season. Sweeney told the media in April that he and Miller share a mutual desire to make sure he continues to play for the Bruins.
“Our intentions for Kevan are that he’s 100 percent healthy so that he can resume when we start the next season,” Sweeney said back on April 10. “I know Kevan’s a UFA, so we’ll entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back and he’ll also entertain whether he wants to come back.”
After watching his teammates suffer through the gut-wrenching Game 7 loss almost a year ago, Miller admitted how frustrated he was but he also vowed to never let that frustration defeat him.
“I don’t think frustrating does it justice, to be honest with you,” Miller said last June. “When you put it all down on paper, there’s not one thing I could have done differently. I couldn’t have trained harder, I couldn’t have been more mobile, couldn’t have done anything to prevent the [injuries]. It doesn’t sit well. You watch your team go to the Stanley Cup Finals, but you’re not able to help the guys out—it hurts, for sure.
The motivation to get back to playing is a pretty easy thing for me. It’s part of my job. And I truly love playing hockey. It’s something that I’ve done my whole life now.”
While he hasn’t returned to game action, he’s kept his promise and that’s why he was nominated for the 2020 Masterton trophy.