BostonBruins.com – Patrice Bergeron became the second Bruin in the history of the franchise to win the Frank J. Selke award Wednesday night, joining Steve Kasper who won it in 1982.
Bergeron beat out fellow finalists Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and David Backes of the St. Louis Blues.
|Patrice poses with the Selke (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) |
"Just to be nominated is a huge honor," Bergeron said from the red carpet. "And to be named with Pavel and David, two great players, is just an amazing experience right now."
The Selke trophy is awarded "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game."
On that basis of judgment, Bergeron's numbers spoke alone.
Bergeron led the entire NHL in plus/minus this season at +36, which is impressive considering he spends more time on the penalty kill than any other Bruins forward, averaging 1:48 shorthanded ice time a game.
Even the league's top goal scorer, Steven Stamkos – who seemed to score at will this season, netting 60 goals - acknowledged how tough it is to play against Bergeron this morning.
"Patrice - I think he's one of the best two way players in the game," Stamkos said. "As a centerman going against him it's always tough to win a faceoff."
Stamkos wasn't the only one having problems winning faceoffs against the 26-year-old this season. Bergeron won the most faceoffs in the NHL with 973, winning 123 puck drops for his team when they were on the penalty kill.
Hockey's such a team sport that I have to thank all my teammates for this right now. They're the reason why I'm here, and thanks for making my job easy. - Patrice Bergeron
Defense turning into offense was on display when Bergeron personally tallied two shorthanded goals while the Bruins were killing penalties this season.
"Playing both sides of the rink is something that I take a lot of pride in," Bergeron said after receiving the award. "That’s the way I learned to play hockey, and to actually win an award that’s given to the best defensive forward, or two-way forward, is something very special."
No. 37's character was most notably personified this season when he won a much needed faceoff draw, while injured, with the team pinned deep in its own zone in a playoff elimination game.
True to this selfless nature, the B's alternate captain was quick to mention his teammates in his acceptance speech.
"Hockey's such a team sport that I have to thank all my teammates for this right now," Bergeron said from the podium. "They're the reason why I'm here, and thanks for making my job easy."
The Bruins forward clashed with 2011 Selke winner, Ryan Kesler, in the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Bergeron's two goals in Game 7 foreshadowed a changing of the guard at Selke – most notably when he carried the puck out of his own zone on the penalty kill and exploded up the rink, scoring a hideously beautiful shorthanded goal to all but ice Boston's first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
As the first layer of defense, Bergeron's elite forechecking is a cornerstone in the Bruins defensive scheme, but in the shadow of historic goaltending and Zdeno Chara, Bergeron has flown under the radar as an unsung hero to the Bruins success defensively – having never been named to an All-Star team.
But tonight in Las Vegas, his contributions were finally brought into the brightest of spotlights, front and center, for the entire hockey world to appreciate.
--- Renee Anderson contributed to this report.