BOSTON -- The votes from the members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association have been collected and tabulated.
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara doesn't have a vote, but if his wishes could affect what the ballots read -- and considering his imposing 6-foot-9 stature, there's not much Chara doesn't get when he demands it -- teammate Patrice Bergeron will take home the Selke Trophy in June.
On Monday, Bergeron was announced as one of three finalists for that award, which goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL. The Blues' David Backes and the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk are the other finalists. Datsyuk has won the award three times and has been a finalist five straight seasons. Bergeron and Backes are first-time finalists.
"I've been saying that for years. He should have been nominated way before this year," Chara said. "He's such a reliable guy to have on the ice, he plays all the situations, you can really count on him that when he's on the ice that he's going to get the job done. It's just a pleasure to have a teammate like that. He's such a tremendous person and hard-worker and obviously a leader, that there's no question in my mind that he should be the winner."
The 26-year-old Bergeron led the NHL in plus/minus this season with a plus-36 rating. He also finished second in the league in faceoff percentage with a success rate of 59.3 percent, 0.1 behind Jonathan Toews of Chicago.
Bergeron also led the Bruins in shorthanded time on ice among forwards (1:48) for a team that was second in the League in goals-against per game (2.39).
It's that last statistic that Bergeron probably is most proud of because it's a team statistic. And even as he finally has been recognized by the League's writers for his prowess as one of the top two-way forwards in the game, Bergeron still doesn't want too much of the focus just on him.
"I take pride in playing both sides of the rink and the little details in order to help the team win as much as I can," said Bergeron, who managed to have a great defensive season while also scoring 22 goals. "I think this award is, somewhat I guess, compensating the guys that play on both sides of the ice, so yes, I'm happy with it. But at the same time … I don't really believe in individual awards as much as the team efforts. I think every time you're nominated for an award like that it's because of your teammates and the help of all of them."
If Bergeron won't boast about his play, his teammates are more than willing to make up for that.
"He’s a guy that I think you get more of an appreciation for when you play with him," center Gregory Campbell said. "Obviously he's an elite player in the League and he's recognized by, I'm sure, all the teams. He's played internationally for Team Canada. That's an honor in itself. But once you play with a player you really realize day in and day out how important they are to the team, what a leader he is off the ice and obviously his ability to shut down top players in the League and also be a top offensive player, as well.
"You ask anybody that's played with him, he makes them that much better of a player … you look at those guys [Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin], look at how they've developed in their career, so we're lucky to have him. The nomination is well-deserved."
Bergeron made the jump from junior hockey to the NHL as a teenager at the start of the 2003-04 season, and by 2006 he had been named an alternate captain to Chara. Known as a player who does more of his leading on the ice than off, Bergeron was at it again Sunday during Game 6 of the series against the Capitals. Bergeron obviously was banged up in Game 5 Saturday, as he had left the game in the second period and received limited ice time in the third period.
With his status unknown for Game 6, Bergeron took the pre-game warm-up and was in the lineup. He was on the ice for 19:41 and took just one faceoff, but the upper-body injury he's battling didn't prevent him from firing four shots on goal and assisting on a goal by Rich Peverley as Boston staved off elimination with a 4-3 overtime win.
"Again, the type of player that he is, he's working through it,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "To me, I didn't see a difference in the player at all as far as his play was concerned. The only difference you saw was him not jumping into that circle to take faceoffs."
Bergeron won his only draw after a third-period icing. Asked if he was in pain during that faceoff, Bergeron said Monday, "I'll let you guys answer that one."
Once again, Bergeron left the words to others. The quiet leader of the Bruins conserves his energy for the type of actions that make one a Stanley Cup champion, and maybe now an award-winner.
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