Defenseman Thomas Hickey is this season’s Islanders nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy as the player who, “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.”
Nominations are selected by each team’s chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Finalists will be revealed at a later date.
Dan Hickey, Thomas’ older brother, passed away at the age of 33 in March due to glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain tumor. Dan Hickey was diagnosed with the disease in September of last year. Thomas returned to the family’s home in Alberta to be with his brother often during the course of the season.
“We’re a personal family, but when I talk about perspective, the most important thing is I’ve been lucky to be with this organization that’s allowed me to be with him, spend some quality time with him, go back home when I need to,” Thomas said. “This isn’t the most important thing in my life by a long shot. But it is good to have an outlet and have the support from the organization top to bottom, being in the fight behind my brother.
“Every one of my teammates, here and on the Island, has been a great asset for me in wishing him the best. That means more than playing, more than anything else.”
You can donate to the GoFundMe account set up for Dan’s family here.
Acquired by the Islanders via waivers from the Los Angeles Kings prior to the 2013 lockout season, Thomas became an important member of the team’s defense almost immediately. Paired with Lubomir Visnovsky, the two combined smooth skating and awareness on both ends of the ice to form one of the most effective sets we’ve seen in a long time. In Demember of 2018, Hickey suffered a concussion and his spot in the lineup was filled by Devon Toews, who never relinquished it.
The 30-year-old Hickey was waived in training camp 2019 to allow 19-year-old Noah Dobson to remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior hockey. Hickey was assigned to Bridgeport of the AHL, but sustained more concussions and injuries down there, playing only 14 games for the Sound Tigers all season. Whenever the Islanders needed an injury replacement, Hickey was also hurt.
Even while rehabbing at Northwell Health Ice Center with the Sound Tigers or Islanders, Hickey was a valuable veteran presence and close with his teammates. Anyone that’s ever watched one of his between-period appearances on MSG Networks can tell you that he’s an extremely intelligent observer of the game and a very good communicator. Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson praised both Hickey and Andrew Ladd (who was also down on waivers) for their leadership and calmness on the bench helping a roster with very few AHL veterans on it.
As a vocal fan of Hickey’s it’s been hard to see him have such a nightmarish year-and-a-half. I think a lot of us here wish him and his family peace, as well as another chance at the NHL.
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association proudly announces chapters’ nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: pic.twitter.com/EpBQDoMhe5— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 9, 2020
The Islanders have had three Masterton winners: Ed Westfall in 1977, Mark Fitzpatrick in 1992 and Robin Lehner in 2019.