BostonBruins.com – As alternate captain of the Black & Gold, Patrice Bergeron always leads by example. The 26-year-old may not be the most vocal in the B's locker room – or around the league – but if you look close enough, the heart beneath the stitched ‘A' will lead you to the finer details.
It's no secret that Bergeron has always put his team before any personal accomplishments, and yet again, that rang true Wednesday night as Bergeron took home his first Franke J. Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward.
"It's always – especially in hockey – it's a team sport that you need to rely on all of your teammates," Bergeron said prior to receiving the award. "And they're the ones that are helping you on the ice and you try to do the same thing to them.
"And you know, that's the only thing I can think of, is my teammates- they're the reason why I'm here."
That "team" not only includes his fellow B's on the ice, but those off the ice who have supported him throughout his career.
"Thank you to Mr. Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely, all the coaches, the trainers, everyone in Boston - thank you," Bergeron said from the podium, before continuing on to thank his family and friends.
"Thanks for always being here for me and believing in me and supporting me."
For Bergeron, who has worn the ‘A' since the 2005-06 season, this is not his first time on a big stage, though it may be his first in the spotlight.
Despite being in the exclusive 25-member Triple Gold Club – having won the Stanley Cup, World Championship and Olympic gold – Bergeron has quietly maintained his demeanor. His knack for showing his teammates at every level what it takes to win, no matter the intensity of the situation, has kept his focus on the ultimate goal.
"You always want to go out and do like the [Los Angeles] Kings did," Bergeron told Kevin Weekes on the NBC Sports Network after leaving the Encore Theater stage at the Wynn Las Vegas. "And for us, it’s motivation and we just realized how hard it is to get it every year and we need to go out there and do it again."
Since the Frank J. Selke Trophy was first awarded at the end of the 1977-78 season, only 21 names had shared the honor - until this year. Bergeron adds his name to the list and joins only three other active NHL players to have received the award - John Madden, last year's winner Ryan Kesler and 2012 finalist Pavel Datsyuk.
In less than a decade, the Selke winner has calmly – and unknowingly – crafted a legacy for himself wearing the spoked-B.
"There's no doubt that Patrice deserves this," stated head coach Claude Julien on his alternate captain being a Selke finalist. "The way he's played this year, the things he's done to be nominated, how good he's been defensively.
"He just never stops to amaze you with his commitment to playing."
Bergeron's unwavering loyalty to the B's has led him to hockey's top collective honors, and now the Boston forward finds himself in some well-deserved individual limelight, even if his focus still remains on the intricacies that earned him the ‘A' in the first place.
"I'm going to keep doing the same thing I've been doing, keep working at all the details and try to improve. That's my game and I'm not going to try to change it."