(Nashville) The Bill-Masterton Trophy is not the one players dream of winning. Those who receive it are certainly rewarded for their perseverance, their sportsmanship and their commitment to their sport, so many noble values. But it is often after a major event that it is awarded.

The nomination of Kristopher Letang for the Masterton Trophy follows this tradition. If he won it on Monday night, it was because he kept his head above water during a season that was as trying as possible on a personal level.

On November 28, the Quebecer suffered a stroke. A second already for this athlete in his mid-thirties.

Five games later, he spent more than 22 minutes on the ice in a Pittsburgh Penguins win over the Buffalo Sabers.

Just a few weeks later, he was mourning the passing of his father.

So it’s easy to believe the 36-year-old defenseman when he says that over the past year, “it’s always been a bit difficult to focus 100% mentally on hockey.”

Crossed on the red carpet preceding the presentation of the NHL trophies, in Nashville, Letang quickly returned to these difficult months.

“Physically it was okay, but mentally it was tough,” he said. There were big troughs in the waves… Sometimes it was going well, hockey allowed me to think about something else. I’m glad we’re moving on. »

Being a father – his wife and two children accompany him elsewhere in the city of country – also gave him a new perspective on his misadventures. Despite himself, he had to face many injuries and hardships during his career that began in 2006. However, “when you are with children, there is much more in the equation”, he said. -it finds. “It takes a lot of support. »

He believes, however, that being rewarded for his perseverance, “maybe having a trophy in the house that [highlights] him, that can be a source of motivation for them. »

He wanted to share this nomination “with [his] family, with the people who [have] supported him and helped him through all these things”. His Penguins teammates, for example, had mobilized to attend his father’s funeral in Quebec, adding a serious detour to a trip that was to take them to the other side of the continent. But they wanted to be there for him. And he wants to thank them today.

In front of his peers, with the trophy in his hands, he specifically thanked his wife for all she does for him and their family. “I still don’t know how you do it. I’m so thankful for that. I like you. »

Letang, moreover, wanted to pay tribute to Clayton Keller and Alex Stalock, named like him for the Bill-Masterton trophy. “They deserve it as much as I do,” he insisted.