What Ron Hainsey did, he did for his fellow players and for the game of hockey.

There wasn't much in terms of personal gain for the Winnipeg Jets defenceman and, in fact, the downside has been both real and damaging.

Hainsey's work for the NHLPA, stepping forward into a role of leadership during the recent lockout, took courage, commitment and dedication. It was a mostly thankless job but one Hainsey took on anyway and executed in an effective manner. Hainsey was an architect of the agreement reached that will provide a 10-year solution and got the game back on the ice.

For this work and the solid brand of hockey he's played since getting back to his real job, the Winnipeg chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association has nominated Hainsey for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Hainsey's body of work as a player and member of the union throughout his eight-plus seasons in the NHL make him a strong candidate for this award.

The honour is named after the Winnipeg-born Masterton and is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The trophy is often given to a player returning from a catastrophic injury but has also been used to honour players such as Hainsey for having shown great dedication to the game.

Based on the premise that Hainsey's work with the union required a rare level of commitment to hockey, the seven writers who make up the Winnipeg chapter of the PHWA -- Tim Campbell, Kirk Penton, Ken Wiebe, Paul Friesen, Ed Tait, Ted Wyman and myself -- unanimously chose Hainsey as our Masterton candidate. Hainsey and his work will be judged against the selections of the 29 other league chapters.

In many corners, Hainsey was reviled for his role in the lockout and CBA negotiations that pre-empted the start of this NHL season.

Some fans and management types still spit his name out. He became a lightning rod and a symbolic figure for the union, who many viewed as millionaires drunk on greed and bent on destroying the game.

Toward the end of the lockout, some wondered if Hainsey had affected his future marketability as a player. As recently as the trade deadline, there was discussion about whether the Boston Bruins and their hawk owner Jeremy Jacobs would avoid trading for Hainsey due to his position with the union.

The Jets, however, showed their respect for Hainsey's value as a player by not trading him despite his impending unrestricted free agency status. Surely, the Jets could have exchanged Hainsey for draft picks but they elected to keep him for what he brings to the team right now while risking losing him for nothing come July 1.

He's played top-four blue-liner minutes throughout the season and been a big part of the Jets and their push for a playoff berth.

Hainsey gained the respect and admiration of both his fellow players and his adversaries on the ownership and league side.