DENVER - Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel figures that when he finally gives in and undergoes surgery for some wear and tear from playing in 587 NHL games - not to mention 42 in the playoffs - that he will need four or five things repaired.
"I've got a checklist of when I'm going in for surgery," Sopel said before Friday's game against the Colorado Avalanche. "There's not going to be just one or two; there will probably be four or five things."
Sopel, 33, was selected as the Hawks' Bill Masterton Trophy nominee, which goes to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, by the Chicago chapter of professional hockey writers.
The veteran was limited to 23 games last season after elbow surgery in which doctors "cut the tendon off and re-anchored it down there with screws and stuff." But Sopel has become a key contributor on the Hawks' blue line this year.
Sopel has become known for his ability to block shots at key times, and has missed some time for it. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has praised him for both his reliability and for improving the penalty kill.
"Special teams is a huge thing," said Sopel, who, along with his wife, Kelly, has hosted a holiday party for military families for two straight years. "Being on that side, it's an honor to be there. You want to do everything you can to persevere and be the best at it you can.
"Bumps and bruises come along the way -- some days they look pretty ugly -- but, at the end of the day, I'm out there doing something that I love to do."