Tropp is Pominville's roommate on the road and has a stall next to the captain in First Niagara Center. He sees firsthand that dedication to hockey at all times leads to success when it matters most. Tropp sees why the Buffalo chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association has voted Pominville as its candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
"Part of the things you don't understand when you're growing up as a young guy is how hard it actually is to play 82 games and be at your best every night," Tropp said. "You need to stick to a certain scheduled routine and not break from your routine. There's going to be mornings when you're tired, but you've still got to get up, get your breakfast in, get your stretches in and get on the bike, do the little things that are going to make you better at 7 o'clock that night, even if you don't want to do it that morning.
"I've only roomed with him the last couple road trips, but I've definitely caught on to a few of the things he does on a routine basis. I think that's why he plays almost every game, if not every game, for the last handful of years and why he's as good as he is."
Pominville's ability to rebound from the injury also factored into the captain being nominated for the Masterton, which is presented annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Each chapter of the PHWA selects one player, then the writers' association selects a winner from the 30 candidates. Don Luce (1975) and Pat LaFontaine (1995) are the only Sabres to win.
The Sabres have counted on Pominville more than ever, something no one would have expected back when they waived him in the fall of 2005. Pominville, who went unclaimed, was named captain prior to the season opener. Not a rah-rah type, Pominville nonetheless has become more vocal with on-ice speeches during practice and lengthy dressing room chats.
He's also been the team's most dependable player. Pominville leads the Sabres in goals, assists and points. He's avoided slumps, going more than two games without a point just twice.