Blake feeling lucky

TERRY KOSHAN

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Jason Blake wakes up every day and when he sees his three children, can't help but smile.

"Days are more important than they were before, you kind of take them for granted," Blake said yesterday. "Waking up and seeing my three kids every day, I know how lucky I am."

Diagnosed with leukemia last October, the 34-year-old Maple Leafs winger on Friday was announced as the club's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

A native of Moorhead, Minn., Blake said the lone daily reminder of the disease comes with a pill that he probably will have to take for the rest of his life.

"My attitude toward hockey has not changed a bit," Blake said. "I don't think the outlook has changed much. You still do your everyday activities and as long as you know that everything is going to be okay, you are reassured. I'm very fortunate to do the things I love to do."

Does Blake block it out?

"I don't think about it to be honest," said Blake, who has played in all 70 Leafs games this season. "It's not a big deal."

Well, Blake might get some argument there. His teammates are amazed at how well he has handled his situation.

"It is hard mentally, it would be on anybody, but he never brings it up at the rink," linemate Matt Stajan said. "He has handled it so well. He is always upbeat, hyper, that's just his personality. You would never know he has it. That says a lot about him.

"He is deserving of (recognition for the Masterton). He has gone on with his life."

Blake has not met expectations this season as far as goals go, with just 13 before last night, but with 30 assists, had tied his personal high for one season.

Phil Kessel of the Boston Bruins won the Masterton last season after fighting testicular cancer.


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