The NHL announced the finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and former Ranger Jed Ortmeyer is among the finalists. The Bill Masterton is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
Here is the press release about Ortmeyer:
The veteran forward not only has to work hard each shift to ensure he has a place in the NHL, but also battles a challenging health condition that requires daily attention. At some point each day, Ortmeyer must use a needle to inject a blood thinner directly into his stomach to combat a hereditary blood-clotting disorder that has threatened not only his hockey career, but also his life.
“It’s more important to get the info out there to help people know more about my situation,” Ortmeyer said. “Hopefully someone else in a similar situation will have the information to help them determine if they can play.”
The process is tricky and the timing must be precise. The blood thinner, Lovenox, needs to be in his system during the down time when he’s not on the ice and it needs to be out of his system when he plays or practices so that a hard check or a high stick does not cause fatal bleeding.
Ortmeyer first experienced clotting problems in 2001 following knee surgery and has nearly walked away from hockey twice, most recently in 2008 when he played for the Nashville Predators.
“There have been a couple of times that I thought to myself and talked to my family about not playing again and about whether the risk outweighs the reward,” he said. “After rehab, resting and being away from the game, I had the itch and wanted to get back to play.”
This season, his first in San Jose, Ortmeyer has set career-highs in goals (8), assists (11) and points (19). An important cog in the team’s fifth-ranked penalty killing unit (85.0 percent), Ortmeyer was fifth among all San Jose forwards in average shorthanded ice time per game (1:30).
“Corny as it is and clichéd as it is, I enjoy playing hockey, and they always say you never know when your last shift is going to be,” Ortmeyer said. “I wanted to go out on my terms and not be forced out by some medical issue.”
Originally signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers in 2003, following an outstanding career at the University of Michigan, Ortmeyer has posted 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 306 regular-season games with the Rangers, Predators and Sharks.
Thoughts: Ortmeyer’s story is truly a unique one in sports and despite that Ortmeyer still plays the game the right way, without excuses, and is second to non when it comes to hustle. The same reasons he was a fan favorite on Broadway is the same reasons he should win this award.
Ortmeyer was my one of my favorite pre-lockout Rangers and it was sad to see him leave, but unfortunately Glen Sather didn’t like him as much as most fans did.
Here’s rooting for Ortmeyer.