The Nashville Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association announced today that it has nominated Predators center Cody Glass for the 2022-23 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. 

The Masterton Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the PHWA and is given “to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers’ Association in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who died that same year after an injury sustained during a game. Steve Sullivan is the only player in Predators franchise history to win the award, doing so in 2009.

Glass made history as the first-ever draft pick in Vegas Golden Knights franchise history when he was selected No. 6 overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut with Vegas in 2019 and, after an injury-riddled rookie season, he suffered a season-ending knee injury requiring surgery in March 2020. 

The Covid-19 pandemic hindered Glass’ ability to rehab and train like he otherwise would, and he arrived in Nashville in July 2021 as part of a three-way trade but was assigned to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals for the 2021-22 season. 

“After the surgery was the toughest time,” said Cody’s father, Jeff. “Going to the AHL last year was really hard. At first he thought it would just be for a couple of weeks, and then it was going longer and longer. It took a lot to keep him motivated. Once he started getting back into it and just focusing on hockey again, you could see the change in him. That’s why going to the summer, he just was just hard on himself. He just wanted to push himself because he didn’t want to go back to the AHL.”

And push he did – but not without experiencing his fair share of self-doubt and setbacks along the way.

“I doubted myself quite a bit, especially through my whole knee surgery,” Glass said. “I thought my knee might not be 100 percent and I might not be able to get back to the player that I was. I felt like playing a full year last year in the AHL helped that a lot… [I got] the touches, the ice time, all the opportunity that I was given to kind of flourish again. Coming into this summer, I felt healthy, I felt good and I just went in with the right mindset. I’m here where I am now and I’m very thankful.

Now, Cody is finally getting his shot at the NHL with the Predators, and the magnitude of the opportunity is not lost on him.

“I came into this year just trying to make the team,” Glass said. “So for me to not only make the team but to play an important role, being that close to a playoff spot, is something I never thought of at the beginning of the year. But things change throughout the year, and I’ve worked hard for this moment.”

To say that he “worked hard” may be an understatement. Jeff recalled being “amazed” at Cody’s drive and dedication to training this past summer.l

“I’ve never seen him go full time, all out, every single day like that,” Jeff said. “Even the foods he was eating – he was relentless in everything. It was heartwarming to see him because he actually changed me and the things I was eating. To see the dedication and how focused he is, I just love to see it.”

Indeed, this summer was a critical one in Cody’s development – both as a hockey player and as a person.

“I signed a one-year, two-way deal, and I felt it was one of those make-or-break kind of years for me,” Cody said. ” I was not going to let anything get in the way of that. I was going to train as hard as I possibly could. I would sit down every day, and I would do all these little things to kind of work on my game just to have no excuses going into the year. My dad saw me in the backyard doing a bunch of stuff, and I might be at the rink for probably two and a half to three hours [a day], just trying to do everything I possibly could to put myself in the right position.”

Cody’s summer of tireless effort paid off when he made the Predators 2022-23 roster out of training camp. After getting some strong reps in on Nashville’s bottom-six, he earned the opportunity to play up in the lineup. However, his first stint on the top line against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 27 didn’t quite go as planned.

Cody took the defensive zone face-off that resulted in Robert Thomas deflecting a Justin Faulk shot into the back of the net to give the Blues a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the first period. His costly mistake – and profoundly human response – revealed something deeper: He simply wasn’t ready.

“He was a player that we felt certainly deserved to be there [in the top six],” Head Coach John Hynes said after the game. “But I think the moment got the best of him as a young guy… We want to see him in that spot because if he can get there, I think it makes us a better team. It gives us a real strong top six.”

The game against St. Louis was a humbling one for Cody, but it made him work even harder to prove that Hynes was right – that he deserved to be in the top six. He just needed a little more time.

“I was playing on the fourth line and kind of knew my role and then jumped up to the top-six,” Glass said. “Obviously, you want to take advantage of that opportunity. But sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. It took me a little bit more time to figure it out and gain that confidence, and the next time I was in that spot, I took advantage of it. I was ready for that opportunity.”

After spending several games as a healthy scratch and subsequent stints on the third and fourth lines, Glass is now a mainstay in Nashville’s top six.

“The second time it came around, I felt like it just put less pressure on myself,” Glass said. “Throughout my whole career I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself. Sometimes it works in my favor; sometimes it doesn’t. But I think now it’s just pushed me to be a better player and person.”

After opening the season with three points (1g-2a) in his first 16 appearances (Oct. 7-Dec. 12), Cody owns 30 points (13g-17a) in his last 53 games. He’s also found the scoresheet in 18 of his last 38 games (10g-12a), including his first career overtime goal on Tuesday against Vegas, his former team.Cody has established career highs in goals (14), assists (19) and points (33) this season, and while he achieved his goal of making the team this year, he is far from finished.

“That’s just the start,” he said. “I’ve kind of had a taste of that success this year, and it’s a good feeling. It’s a great feeling to be in the NHL, and I never want to take it for granted. So I think it’s something that I’m going to take into the summer and cherish. One summer of training is not going to do it. You have to keep doing it every year, so I’m looking forward to it. Obviously I’m looking forward to this playoff push and to just keep getting better, getting all these opportunities and to make me a better player.”

Cody’s demonstration of “perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey” helped him achieve success at the NHL level, even in the face of adversity; in fact, the adversity is what fuels him.

“It’s nice to finally see him get to that place,” Jeff said. “But it’s still in the back of his head that at any given day, you can drop down [to the AHL]. So he’s pushing himself every single shift and he’s not going to stop. I think that fear in him is good. It pushes him harder and it’s going to make him a better player for sure. He’s relentless. He’s dedicated. He’s not going to stop.”

The Masterton Trophy winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. A grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the winner’s name.