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Player Profile: A look at Steve Mason

“How would you like it if, at your job, every time you made the slightest mistake a little red light went on over your head and 18,000 people stood up and screamed at you?” Hall of Fame Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante

On May 29, 1988 the possible “second coming” of Martin Brodeur was well on its way to happening. That was the day Steve Mason came into the world and the start of his “destiny”. Mason, now a 6’4″, 212 pound gift from the Hockey Gods, grew up in Oakville, Ontario (81 miles southwest of Toronto) wit parents Del and Donna, and sister Melanie.

With where Mason grew up most would think he would have been a devout Leafs fan or maybe even a Canadiens fan; but wasn’t the case. He followed goaltending. This in turn led him to follow the New Jersey Devils and more importantly, Martin Broduer. In homage of his favorite goaltender (and team), growing up his room was done Devils style.

“Growing up my favorite team was the Devils just because of Broduer…I had a Broduer jersey and the colors in my room were red and white.”

What Mason has taken from idolizing/watching Broduer is his puck-handling.

At the age of 10, Mason bought his first set of goalie pads with money he had saved from his paper route. And the rest is history.

“There is no escalator to success–only steps.” Former Oilers GM Glen Sather

On track to starting his pro career his first step in the ladder was with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) during the 2005-2006 season. Unlike most young players in the OHL, or any junior hockey league, Mason only played 12 games before being drafted 69th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. At the start of the 2007-2008 season, he was on the Jackets roster but was sent back to London after being a healthy scratch for the first two games. Mason first competed for Team Canada at the Under-20 level (8 games) in the 2007 Super Series against Russia. The following year he helped lead Team Canada to the gold medal at the IIHF Would Junior Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic with a 3-2 OT win over Team Sweden. Following that game he was named Player of the Game, Tournament MVP and Top Goaltender in the tournament. During the midst of all this, back in Canada, he was traded from the Knights to the Kitchener Rangers on January 4, 2008.

“I knew I was in trouble when I heard snap, crackle and pop, and I wasn’t having a bowl of cereal.” Former Maple Leaf Nick Kypreos

Once back in Canada he was briefly recalled to Columbus on emergency basis but didn’t get any playing time and was sent back down to Kitchener. Nearing the end of the regular season he suffered a knee injury but played through it for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of playoff play versus the Plymouth Whalers. After defeating the Whalers, Mason was pulled from the line-up and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on April 18th; missing the rest of the playoffs and the 2008 Memorial Cup. The Rangers were able to win without him but lost in the final game 4-1 at the hands of the Spokane Chiefs.

“I play a position where you make mistakes.  The only people who don’t make them at a hockey game are the ones watching.” Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy

At the start of the 2008-2009 season, he underwent another knee surgery and missed the first month of play with Columbus’ AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch. Two months later, on November 4, 2008, he got the call from the Jackets once again to replace injured starter Pascal Leclaire. November 5, 2008 was the start of the “Mason Era” in Columbus with him making his NHL debut and first NHL win over the Edmonton Oilers in a 5-4 victory. Just 17 days later he recorded his first, of what came to be 10 at season’s end, shut out over the Atlanta Thrashers with a 2-0 final. With a 5-2-1 record, 3 straight wins and 2 shutouts already to his credit, Mason earned November Rookie of the Month honors. December brought more honors to Mason; a 7-5-0 record, 1.41 GAA, .950 save percentage and a three game goal-less streak against the Flyers, Kings and Ducks – all earned him December Rookie of the Month honors.

“You’re really playing against yourself.  You have to learn what you can control and what you can’t, and not let what you can’t control affect your confidence.” Former Rangers goalie Mike Richter

All-Star roster buzz started to buzz louder with each passing day for Mason and even the possibility to start the All-Star game; by some fans. He didn’t make that cut. He did however make the cut for the Young Stars game. Though honored, Mason opted out of the game and took the All-Star break to rest; because in the previous weeks he did not play like himself, most thought it was just fatigue from playing almost every night. It was later revealed by Jackets GM Scott Howson, that Mason had been suffering from Mono for three to four weeks. This, subsequently, led him to be put on IR on February 8th but returned five days later in a 3-2 victory over Detroit on February 13th.

“The playoffs separate the men from the boys, and we found out we have a lot of boys in our dressing room.” Former Rangers GM Neil Smith

Mason was a big part of the reason the Jackets made their first playoff run in franchise history. A lot of fans say he’s the only reason why the Jackets finally made the playoffs. They finished 7th in the West and had to face 2nd seeded Detroit in Round One. Unfortunately, the Jackets were swept out in Round One but gave the fans something to be proud of in the almost come back in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena. But now Mason, along with the rest of the young Jackets has gotten their first taste of the NHL Playoffs. And with Mason between the pipes, it won’t be their last!

Career Awards:

– OHL Goaltender of the Year (2007)

– Player of the Game in semi-final vs USA and Gold Medal game vs Sweden in World

Junior Championship (2008)

– OHL Record for Regular Season Wins with 45 (2006-2007) – but broken by Andrew Engelage of the Windsor Spitfires with 46 (2008-2009)

– CHL Record Assisits by a Goaltender with 8 (2007)

– NHL Rookie of the Month; November (2008), December (2008)

– Sportng News Rookie of the Year (2009)

– Calder Memroial Trophy (2009)

– NHL Second All-Star Team (2009)

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