When the NHL announced Oskar Lindblom as the winner of the 2020-21 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, it was around 8 p.m. ET. For Lindblom, back home in his native Sweden, it was 2 a.m. The Flyers' winger, of course, was informed he had won the award prior to the official announcement Tuesday, but the congratulatory messages poured in overnight.
"When I woke up this morning, I had a couple of text messages from guys on the team," Lindblom said Wednesday. "Family and friends reached out, as well. It's always fun to talk to old teammates when you're home and you have your family here, it's great. I'm happy, I'm happy to win this award. Feels special, a special moment in my life."
Lindblom read the love from his teammates in the morning. On Tuesday night, he had Flyers fans across the Delaware Valley cheering for him and the hockey community saluting his inspirational fight. Lindblom became the fourth Flyer to ever win the Masterton Trophy, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association and given annually to "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey."
The 24-year-old surely matched the description. He played in 50 of the Flyers' 56 games this season, putting up eight goals and six assists. This time a year ago, he was finishing radiation treatments from a cancer battle stemming back to December 2019, when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma.
Lindblom's story of positivity and persistence has touched so many. The Masterton honor had the smiling Swede recalling some of the positive, uplifting memories from his fight.
He mentioned the time when he greeted the team at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 17, 2019. The Flyers were coming home from an 0-3-0 road trip during which they learned of Lindblom's sudden and shocking diagnosis. After the Flyers saw Lindblom, they went on to win four straight games.
"I remember that moment so well because everyone was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see them," Lindblom said.
He also highlighted the night of Jan. 11, 2020, when he received a loud and lengthy standing ovation from 19,866 fans at the Wells Fargo Center. Lindblom, who had begun his treatments, was shown on the Jumbotron. The ovation lasted for an entire stoppage of play as Lindblom waved to the crowd.
"That was something that I'll never forget," he said.
Back home in Sweden, Lindblom is training for the 2021-22 season — and appreciating the essence of his fight.
"Just got back here a couple of weeks ago, spending time with my family again, seeing my grandparents that I haven't seen in almost two years," Lindblom said. "Just enjoying life and can be able to do whatever I want to and I feel energized again. ... Hockey-wise, I felt I got better at the end of the season, but I know I've got a lot more in me.
"I want to be the player I was before I got sick. I feel good right now, working out and all of that. That's my goal and I just need to really push myself this summer to really get back in shape. Hopefully I can be the player I was, if not better."
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