Alex Stalock taught all of us a lesson in perseverance throughout the 2022-23 season.
In a year where he fought through myocarditis, concussions, and oculomotor dysfunction, he was a force between the pipes, helping the team both on the ice and in the locker room.
Stalock was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He didn’t make his NHL debut until 2011, then was reassigned to the AHL shortly thereafter. He later suffered a sliced nerve behind his knee, taking him out for the rest of that season and most of the next one. After eventually making it back to the league in 2014, he was traded to the Maple Leafs, then moved to the Minnesota Wild. He was with the team for four seasons, then moved to the AHL affiliate of the Oilers, the Bakersfield Condors. After being shipped back to his original team at the 2022 trade deadline, he was signed by Chicago as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2022 to a one-year deal.
During his 2020-21 season, Stalock suffered from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle making it more difficult to pump, after COVID-19 complications. The symptoms made it nearly impossible to return to the ice, and he only played in one NHL game with the Sharks in the 2021-22 season. Before he signed with the Blackhawks, he met with five cardiologists while discussing with his family, agent, and electrophysician to decide whether he could continue playing at all. After finally receiving clearance, he signed the one-year deal.
Stalock’s challenges didn’t end there. Throughout the 2022-23 season in Chicago, he had to overcome several obstacles and missed quite a few games. He battled through multiple concussions as well as oculomotor dysfunction in order to get back on the ice.
When he was healthy, Stalock was a wall in the net and became one of the top goalies in the entire NHL. Despite his 9-15-2 record, he ended up with a .908 save percentage and a 3.01 goals-against average in 24 starts.
Despite his setbacks, Stalock’s teammates raved about the energy and positivity he brought to the building on a daily basis. As a result, he’s been nominated as a finalist for the Masterton trophy. The Bill Masterton Trophy is annually awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, as voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Stalock certainly exhibited all of those qualities, as his perseverance through his struggles is truly inspirational. After being named by Chicago writers as the Blackhawks’ nominee, he’s been voted as one of three finalists, joining Arizona’s Clayton Keller and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang.
Stalock will have the opportunity to be recognized for his contributions to the game on Monday, June 26 at the NHL Awards at Bridgestone Arena.
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