– Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron
has never held individual accomplishments in high regard. To the 26-year-old forward, everything comes secondary to the team's overall success and he's embodied that mantra throughout his career.
What Bergeron has put an emphasis on is the defensive aspect of his game – the unseen details on the box score that will ensure his team's victory.
For those efforts, Bergeron was named one of three finalists
(along with Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and St. Louis' David Backes) for the Frank J. Selke trophy, awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspect of the game.
"I take pride in playing on both sides of the rink and doing the little details in order to help the team win as much as I can and I think this award is somewhat, compensating the guys that play on both sides of the ice so yes, I'm happy with it," Bergeron said.
"But at the same time, I don't really believe in individual awards as much as team efforts. Anytime you're nominated for an award like that, it's because of the help of your teammates."
While Bergeron humbly assessed the nomination, his teammates were eager to compliment his play.
"I've been saying that for years. He should be nominated way before this year and he's such a reliable guy to have on the ice – he plays all the situations," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
said. "You can really count on him when he's on the ice that he's going to get the job done and it's just a pleasure to have a teammate like that.
"He's such a tremendous person, a hard worker and a leader. There's no question in my mind he should be the winner."
Not only does Bergeron get the job done, but he makes sure he first helps the game of his linemates and teammates around him.
Whether it's sliding over to cover a missed gap on defense, or being first on the forecheck – which is almost always the case when Bergeron is on the ice – there's rarely a hole when No. 37 is on the ice.
"He's a guy that I think you get more of an apprecation for when you play with him," Bruins forward Gregory Campbell
said. "Obviously, he's an elite player in the league and he's recognized by I'm sure all the teams.
"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 be a top offensive player as well.
"If you ask anyone who plays with them, he makes them that much of a better player."
The respect for Bergeron has always been sky-high in the Bruins locker room. But yesterday in Game 6, with his team on the brink of elimination, the B's alternate captain took it to another level.
With little time left in the third period of a 3-3 tie, Bergeron, who was caught in the middle of a line change because of an icing call, elected to take a key faceoff in the Bruins zone.
Bergeron, who wasn't 100 percent to take faceoffs according to Julien, took his first draw of the game and won it, and the game spilled into overtime and resulted in a Bruins victory to keep the season alive.
"Patrice is a special player, a special person," Bruins veteran Brian Rolston
said. "Obviously [he's] the face of this organization, and plays both end of the ice, never cheats to the offensive side.
"When young players come in you can say, ‘Play like him' and he'd be a perfect example for any young kid in this league."
Two young players – Tyler Seguin
and Brad Marchand
– have been right beside Bergeron nearly all year and have produced stellar numbers. Seguin led the team with 67 points in the regular season and Marchand was second on the team with 28 goals, one behind Seguin's team-high 29.
For Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, it's only fitting Bergeron deserves the award.
"The way he's played this year, the things he's done to be nominated, how good he's been defensively," Julien said. "He's got two young players on each side of him, he's played against top players all year long and he's the best plus player probably of that group.
"Faceoff wise, he's been utilized in every situation. Offensively, defensively, key situations – he's done everything to deserve that. To be honest with you, I'd be very disappointed if he didn't win that. That's how I feel."