TORONTO – At some point, they’re going to have to start thinking about re-naming the award after Patrice Bergeron himself.
The Bruins center was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night for the seventh consecutive season, and is going for his NHL-record fifth trophy for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist along with Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Bergeron finished his 12th NHL season with 30 goals and 33 assists for 63 points with 26 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 64 games.
He ranked fifth in the league in faceoff win percentage (57.3, min. 1,000 face-offs), 12th in face-offs won (784), third in even strength faceoff win percentage (58.0, min. 500 face-offs won) and first in shorthanded faceoff win percentage (58.3, min. 50 face-offs won). The 32-year-old forward also ranked second overall in the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential), with a 57.56%, which should make the fancy stat nerds very happy.
Some might argue there other more worthy candidates given that Bergeron missed 18 games due to injury this season, but he was also the center of a line that didn’t give up an even strength goal until January while putting up his customarily excellent stats. That being said, a guy like Aleksander Barkov also deserved plenty of consideration outside the top-3 finalists that all come in with equally strong chances of taking home the award.
Bergeron has won the Selke in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If he wins the year's Selke Trophy, he will break the record held by four-time winner and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Bob Gainey. The Selke Award is given annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season, and will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.
Patrice Bergeron made hockey history on Wednesday night at the NHL Awards Show in easily the best moment of the evening for the Bruins.
That’s right. Boston’s beloved No. 37 won the fourth Selke Trophy of his career at the NHL Awards presentation recognizing the standouts from the 2016-17 season, and in doing so Bergeron became only the second player in NHL history (Bob Gainey) to win the defensive award in four different seasons. The Habs legend Gainey made the presentation of the award to No. 37 at the event, and it certainly felt like the passing of the Selke baton from the best defensive forward of the last generation to the best defensive forward of this generation.
“I’m humbled. It’s a huge honor. It’s also a huge honor to get [the award] from Mr. Gainey. He’s somebody I looked up to and he was a great role model for kids when I was growing up,” said Bergeron. “It’s a huge honor that I couldn’t do without everybody back home in Boston.”
This particular award had to be extra sweet for the 31-year-old Bergeron after playing injured for the entire season while battling through the discomfort of a sports hernia, and in doing so helping to lead the improving B’s back into the playoffs.
Clearly, Bergeron’s teammates were pumped for him as Brad Marchand tweeted out a little line love after the awards were announced.
Bergeron was the NHL's busiest player in the face-off circle for the third consecutive season, leading the league with 1,812 draws and 1,089 winning face-offs. His draw winning percentage of 60.1% ranked third in the NHL, and he did so while continuing to score high in the puck-possession statistical categories across the league. Bergeron finished with 71 first place votes ahead of second place Ryan Kesler, and third place Mikko Koivu with 28 first place votes.
In the other good news department, Bergeron told reporters in Las Vegas that he’s feeling good physically following surgery and should be healthy and ready to go at the start of next season.
OTTAWA – It perhaps flew a little bit under the radar amid the Bruins playoff battle with the Ottawa Senators, but Patrice Bergeron has once again been recognized as one of the best defensive players in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist for the 2017 Selke Trophy along with fellow centers Ryan Kesler and Mikko Koivu. It marks the sixth straight season that No. 37 will be one of the finalists for the NHL Award.
Bergeron has won previously on three occasions, so a fourth Selke Trophy would have him join Hall of Fame Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey as the only players in NHL history to win the prestigious award four different times in their career. The 2016-17 season certainly wasn’t Bergeron’s best offensive year as he was hampered by a lower body injury in the first half of the season, but that never really impacted his always dependable defensive zone play usually against the other team’s best offensive players, his superior face-off skills where he once again led the league and his penalty killing duties.
For the third consecutive season, Bergeron led the league with 1,812 draws and 1,089 wins, and his 60.1 winning percentage was third among all NHL players this season. Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said that Bergeron is the perfect player for him to use as a teaching tool for the younger guys on the Boston roster, and it’s the positioning, instincts and high motor that all allow him to defend so well.
“I think you see the obvious: The face-offs, the penalty kill and the match-ups,” said Cassidy. “You don’t have a true appreciation for how good his stick is and the angles that he takes to close guys off until you see it up close every day. He just has an uncanny ability to always be on the right side of the puck and get his stick into the passing lanes to close off breakouts.
“You’re constantly teaching some of the young guys how to do it, and this guy just gets it like that. The biggest thing is his hockey IQ with getting his stick into passing lanes and killing off plays. We’re always trying to reinforce with our young guys that you’ve got to find those seams, and he’s just a natural. As it relates to the Selke that’s where I think he’s second-to-none.”
The six straight Selke nominations for Bergeron ties Pavel Datsyuk for the longest such streak in the history of the award since it was introduced into the NHL back in 1978.