Oskar Lindblom’s brave battle against a rare form of bone cancer has been inspirational both for the local hockey community and throughout North America over the past 18 months.
Now, the Flyers’ talented left wing is just one step away from winning the National Hockey League’s highest honor for perseverance, along with dedication and sportsmanship.
Lindblom was named a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on Tuesday.
The other finalists are San Jose’s Patrick Marleau and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba.
On May 10, the Philadelphia Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) chose Lindblom as the Flyers nominee to the NHL. This is the second consecutive year he has been named a finalist, having also been nominated by the PHWA Philadelphia chapter last season.
Lindblom returned for a full season with the Flyers this year, appearing in 50 of the team’s 56 games and recorded eight goals/14 points and averaged 13:11 of ice time, after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania in December of 2019.
Prior to the diagnosis in 2019-20, Lindblom was in the midst of a breakout season. He was tied for the team lead in goals (11) and recorded 18 points in 30 games. He returned to the team in the NHL bubble for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and appeared in games 6 and 7 of the second round against the New York Islanders.
Lindblom signed a three-year, $9-million contract extension last July and general manager Chuck Fletcher said he couldn’t be prouder than to keep the Swede in the organization for years to come.
“The way he’s handled it (Ewing’s sarcoma) was unbelievable, very inspirational,’’ Fletcher said at the time. “You also had a young man dealing with that type of news. His teammates just rallied around him. In terms of the contract, I think Oskar had proven to us even before his illness that he was a high character, talented player that we wanted to be part of our future.”
As this past season came to a close, Lindblom described the challenge he faced over the past year and a half.
“You can feel great one day and another day you feel like you haven’t played hockey for awhile,’’ Lindblom said. “You just have to battle through and be strong mentally, do your work and hopefully you feel good. That’s all I can do, try to recover as well as I can and be on top of the game.’’
The winner of the Masterton is selected by a poll among the 31 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season and is revealed during the NHL Awards Show.
Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, who entered the NHL/NHL Players’ Association player assistance program for issues with alcohol abuse and returned to finish the season with the Senators, won the award in 2019-20.
Only three Flyers have taken home the award in franchise history. Most recently Ian Laperriere won the award in 2010. Bob Clarke (1972) and Tim Kerr (1989) were also previous winners.
The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers’ Association in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, and who died Jan. 15, 1968 during game action.