If you spent even a moment talking to Kevan Miller about his 2019-20 NHL season with the Bruins, there was no doubting his dedication to the game of hockey.
His characteristic perseverance has been there from Day One in his pro hockey career as he worked his way as an undrafted stay-at-home defenseman out of the University of Vermont who made himself into an NHL defenseman.
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Unfortunately, the rugged 32-year-old Bruins defenseman didn’t play a single game this year while attempting to come back from a pair of fractured kneecap injuries that cropped up when he crashed into the boards at the end of last season.
The first injury agonizingly kept him out for the entirety of Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring. Even worse, Miller re-injured his broken kneecap while pushing to try and return during a playoff run where his physical play and overpowering strength around the net might have been able to make a difference for Boston had he been healthy.
Those injuries carried over into this season and Miller experienced several setbacks with his knee, and never appeared in a single game despite pushing hard in his rehab to be able to play once again. It was a tremendously frustrating season for the seven-year NHL veteran in the last year of his contract with the Bruins.
But Miller never stopped putting in the work while trying to make a full comeback and all season did nothing but show the "qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey” that make for a worthy Masterton Trophy nominee.
“I truly appreciate the nomination,” said Miller, of the Masterton nod as voted by the Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). “It’s been quite the journey to get healthy and I’m hoping to persevere and live up to that nomination.”
It’s no surprise since those are the unmistakable traits he’s shown throughout a blue collar career where nothing was handed to him, and Miller had to put the work in for each of the 324 NHL games he’s played through a steady stream of injuries caused by the physical nature of his style of play.
Miller isn’t just a worthy nominee on the ice, however.
In addition, Miller has been an active member of the Boston community when it comes to charitable endeavors as, among many other activities, a spokesperson and vocal advocate for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation throughout his Bruins career.
Here’s the list of the 31 Masterton nominees from each of the NHL clubs, including former Bruins players Noel Acciari (Florida) and Joe Thornton (San Jose). The field of 31 nominees will be narrowed down to three finalists and an eventual winner when the rest of the NHL Awards are announced at a date to be determined for the 2019-20 NHL season.