Throughout the day today the Professional Hockey Writers Association will be revealing all 31 nominees for the 2018-19 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, but Pittsburgh Penguins insider Jason Mackey managed to break the news of the Penguins selection early.
Receiving the first major NHL Award nomination of his entire career is Penguins forward Matt Cullen.
For the unaware, the Masterton Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Suffice it to say that everything Sekera has gone through a lot in his career and his incredible dedication to his sport and his teammates is evident to anyone who has ever met him.
“You get nominated for any award, in this league, it’s an honor,” Cullen said earlier today in conversation with Mackey. “I don’t feel like I’m very deserving. There are a lot of guys who are really deserving. But it’s an honor.”
“You can’t help but respect what he’s done,” Olli Maatta said. “You have to live like an athlete 24/7. You need to be smart and have skill, too, but I know even since I got in the league how much the game has changed. He’s seen it all and been able to adapt.”
“It just goes to show how dedicated he is,” Matt Murray added, speaking on Cullen’s remarkable longevity. “You see it in the gym, you see it in the dressing room. It says a lot about the professional that he is.”
In order to extend his career, Cullen made some serious changes in his diet and lifestyle back in 2015 when he first joined the Penguins. Cullen cut gluten and dairy from his diet entirely.
“It’s really made a big difference as far as recovery and inflammation in my body,” Cullen said. “I don’t know if I’ll fully do that when I’m done playing. I like cream in my coffee and cheese on pizza, but I’ll do that when I’m done playing. For now, I can make those sacrifices.”
“I think the biggest thing is I love to play the game,” Cullen said, explaining his longevity. “Everybody takes care of the nutrition and trains. I’ve done that throughout my career.
“I really enjoy the competition. I love the battle. This time of the year is worth working out and training and battling for, to get down to this point in the season where games really mean a lot. Every play is important. To me, that’s the biggest thing. I love that.”
Congrats, Matt. Well earned and well deserved.