Minnesota Wild forward Mason Shaw, 23, has recovered from a staggering three ACL tears, and he’s come back even stronger after every injury. Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks was a culmination of all of his hard work. He was finally rewarded with a goal and an assist in his best game with the Wild, then followed it up with a second goal on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.
When any athlete suffers a gruesome injury like an ACL tear, it’s not surprising if they decide to retire. ACL tears are one of the toughest injuries to come back from. Recovery time ranges from six months to over a year, depending on the athlete. Now multiply it by three, and you can see it’s been a long path to the NHL for Shaw.
Minnesota drafted Mason Shaw 97th overall in 2017. He’s a gritty two-way center, and he plays like he’s got a fire under him. Shaw was one of the Wild’s last training camp cuts this year, and they assigned him to Iowa. Not surprisingly, the Baby Wild also named him their captain, despite his young age.
He might not get to wear that “C” for long, if ever again, for Iowa. With the mounting injuries the Wild are going through, Shaw might find himself in the big leagues for quite some time. Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, and now Brandon Duhaime are all injured. That opens the door for Shaw to try and earn a more permanent role on the team.
Shaw is playing well enough for Dean Evason to put him on the ice in big moments, and he even got a shot in overtime. “I was feeling pretty good tonight,” he said. “Probably in overtime, I’d be lying if my eyes didn’t get a little big when I went out there. I’m just trying to earn the trust of the coaches here and do what I can to get a little more ice time when it comes. Nonetheless, I was just extremely excited to help out tonight.”
He came along on the road trip as one of the depth players in case of an injury. But Shaw has been able to get comfortable with the NHL game. “It’s huge. You have to feel comfortable,” he said. “It’s obviously an extremely high level, and it’s really hard to get here, so this road trip has been huge for my confidence and to be familiar with everything.”
In Sunday’s game in Chicago, which was only Shaw’s seventh game with the Wild, he finally scored his first NHL goal. There was no one more excited than the man who assisted on Shaw’s goal, Connor Dewar. “He’s been through so much with his surgeries and rehabs. He’s a very mentally strong person,” Dewar said of one of his best friends. “He definitely earned that, it wasn’t given to him, so I was very proud of him.”
“That’s years in the making. He’s one of my best friends now,” Shaw said of Dewar. “You go through a lot of stuff with a guy like that to get to this point. For him to be a part of that goal and be the first one there in the hugs after, it was a special moment for me for sure.”
Teammate Matt Boldy was thrilled for Shaw as well. “Yeah, Shawzy’s the best,” he told the media. “I think everyone loves him, and to see him get one after how well he’s been playing, it’s awesome to see.”
Shaw started a beautiful tic-tac-toe play that led to the game-tying goal in the third period. “You look at the plays that were given to me,” Boldy said. “First one was a great play by Hartzy, and the other one, shooting into the empty net, so you look at those plays, they make it easy.”
That goal occurred seconds after Blackhawks’ Andreas Athanasiou scored his highlight-reel tally. The coaches clearly have enough faith in Shaw to put him on the ice right after a goal against.
Evason knows that his players are overjoyed to see Shaw succeed. “They’re so excited for him,” he said. “They’ve seen him rehab. They’ve seen him go through what he’s gone through. He just competes his ass off every night. Not the biggest guy in the world, but he battles and battles, and we’re all very happy that he’s helping our hockey club.”
Just look at Dewar’s giant grin as they celebrate Shaw’s goal.
“This will be one I won’t forget for a while,” said Shaw. “It was really special, and I’m glad my linemates were a part of it. I think they would’ve been pretty mad at me if I missed it, so they left it on a platter for me.”
The fourth line was buzzing all game long, so it was only a matter of time before Shaw scored.
It’s clear that Shaw went to the Dean Evason School of Celebrating, though. Evason is known to punch his assistants and coaches in jest after a win. In Sunday’s shootout, while watching his teammates, Shaw was seen aggressively clinging to teammate Brandon Duhaime, almost strangling the guy. He even almost fell over the boards to the ice because he was so excited about the win.
Shaw is definitely going to be one to watch and one to root for. He plays an entertaining style of hockey, and it’s always nice to see a guy who’s been through so much have success. He’s clearly earned his spot and is playing his heart out.