A Trophy Winning Goalie
Steve Mason entered the National Hockey League (NHL) in 2006 after he was chosen by the Columbus Blue Jackets at 69th overall. Prior to breaking into the big club, Mason played three seasons for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). During his 2006-2007 season with the Knights, Steve Mason accumulated 62 games played, winning 45 of them leading him to be named OHL Goaltender of the Year. He was also able to end the season with a .914 save percentage.
As if his minor league play wasn’t impressive enough, during the 2008-2009 season, goalie Steve Mason found himself on the Blue Jackets roster where his 33 wins in 61 games, along with his spectacular play earned him the Calder Memorial Trophy; an award given to a first year player who was deemed to be most proficient in his rookie year in the NHL. Along with a Calder win, Steve Mason also found himself holding gold from the World Junior Championships after being a part of a winning Team Canada team.
The Possibility of Retirement
It should come to the surprise of no hockey fan that the Philadelphia Flyers have had difficulty in the goaltending department. It’s often the topic of debate when a group of Flyers fans gather for a drink and a game. Although there has been recent debate about his performance, to many fans around Philadelphia he’s been a fresh breath of air since being traded to the team from the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2013. It may come to the surprise of some, though, that Mason contemplated retirement before being given a chance to goaltend in Philadelphia.
Steve Mason noted depression and a lack of confidence in his final years with the Blue Jackets and these emotions almost led him to an early retirement from the NHL. At the time, he had lost his love for the sport and was unsure of his future. Regardless, a passionate team from South Philadelphia decided to give him a shot.
Philadelphia: The Second Chance
Steve Mason joined the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2012-2013 season but due to the late trade, did not see much action until the following season. At the end of the 2013-2014 season, Mason (affectionately known as “Mase” by fans and players alike), found himself with a total of 61 games played (the most games he’s played with the Flyers to date) which included 33 wins and 18 losses. Steve Mason was back, baby!
Since that amazing 2013-2014 season, Mase has seen less success between the pipes in terms of statistics, but any hockey fan can tell you that statistics are only half of the story when it comes to players, especially goalies.
In this current 2016-2017 season, Flyers fans have seen Mason stand on his head in order to help the team stay competitive in games and in the standings. In fact, Mason was of great help when the Flyers went on their ten game win streak earlier in the season and was named NHL’s number one star of the week due to his play in those games. Unfortunately a goalie can only do so much when given a mediocre defense to help protect against the puck. With the streak a distant memory and more losses than wins since, fans have since turned on Mason, often blaming him directly for losses. Regardless of the opinions found in the Flyers fan base, a look at his play makes it appear as though Mason has found resurgence in the Philadelphia hockey market.
Philadelphia, Don’t Give Up on Mason
Don’t do it.
Steve Mason, in recent years, has shown Flyers fans that he is more than capable of throwing the team on his back and carrying them through tough stretches. My argument is this. A goalie can only do so much. With an offense that’s inconsistent in goal scoring and lackluster defense, fingers should never find themselves pointing at one individual player to be at fault.
In addition, to the dismay of many fans, Mason has started in net for a majority of games played while Neuvirth was out with injury. Why rookie backup goalie Anthony Stolarz, who was stellar in net in his few chances, was not put in net to help ease some of the load was a question mentioned by several fans on social media. Even now, with Neuvirth back, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol has made some questionable decisions about his starting goalie. Although no one besides Hakstol and Mason themselves know the reasoning, it doesn’t change the frustration felt by many fans.
There are a variety of factors at play when discussing wins, losses and player performance. Mason has been one of the few consistent components of the Philadelphia Flyers team, giving his teammates in front of him chances to win games with his quick lateral movement and even quicker glove when everything else seems to be falling apart. He hasn’t given up on this city or team, so Philadelphia, don’t give up on him.
Sean Surer is the director of social media relations for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow the GNGHockey account @GNGhockey.