Todd Marchant wasn't in a good place last April when he learned that there was no way to avoid surgery in what had already been an injury-plagued season.
What pained him the most was that the decision to go under the knife would come right as the Ducks were about to begin the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"[I'm] sitting in the doctor's office on April 5 and him telling me that basically your season is over is not an easy thing to swallow," Marchant said. "Here I'm trying to plead with him and asking, 'Are you sure?' and 'Is there nothing we can possibly do?'
"Fortunately for me I was able to get back in the lineup and play two of the four series."
Marchant, 34, has bounced back as a valuable utility player this season, having lined up at each forward spot while spending time on all four lines. In 68 games, the Buffalo, N.Y., native has eight goals and 15 points.
As such, Marchant was nominated by the Anaheim chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Assn. for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey.
Since he came to Anaheim in November 2005, Marchant has largely adapted to a checking role while being a specialist in taking faceoffs and killing penalties.
"It was something I had to accept if I wanted to stay here," he said. "I was willing to make that sacrifice at this stage of my career in order to help this team be successful."
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said, "Some players grasp it more easily than others. I think it's an understanding with Todd Marchant that he was brought in here specifically because we felt he could be a versatile player. And he's proven that out for us."
After having never gotten past the second round during his eight seasons with Edmonton, Marchant got to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time last June.
But it was a difficult season for the 13-year veteran.
Because of persistent groin and abdominal problems, Marchant played in a career-low 53 games. The surgery he had near the end of the regular season to repair a torn groin muscle kept him out of the first two rounds.
Marchant still sought to find a way to make an impact, even while on the sidelines.
As he rehabilitated, the center came up with the idea of making T-shirts for his teammates to wear as motivational slogans for the playoffs.
As each round passed with a series win for the Ducks, another word was added until it finally read, "Destiny is Heart, Sacrifice and Passion." Proceeds from the shirts have gone to Ducks Care, the team's charitable arm.
The Ducks broke open a tight game in the third period against St. Louis for their club-record ninth consecutive home win Saturday, but don't try to convince Carlyle that they played well.
"We didn't play to the level that's required, that's for sure," Carlyle said. "I'm not going to critique the win. We'll take the win. But we'll have to play to a higher level than what we played tonight. Specifically in our next game against Dallas."
Carlyle wouldn't pin the blame on the news that captain Chris Pronger was suspended for eight games by the NHL for stepping on a player.
"I just thought we were kind of erratic in some situations," Carlyle said. "We didn't chase the puck a couple of times and we didn't play to our structure defensively. And we turned the puck over far, far too many times."