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NHL Awards Never Get Old for Bergeron

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

LAS VEGAS — For Patrice Bergeron, the month of June usually brings with it a routine trip to Las Vegas.

As such, the Bruins alternate captain received his fifth straight nomination for the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2016, given each year to the NHL’s top defensive forward.

The 2016 NHL Awards will take place on Wednesday, June 22, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (7:00 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).

“It’s special,” Bergeron said during Tuesday’s NHL Awards Media Day at Encore Las Vegas. “It’s always a great honor to be nominated, but at the same time, it’s one of those things where I wouldn’t change the way I play whether I’m nominated or not.”

“That’s the way I was brought up. It’s special. There’s no individual awards without the the help of your teammates and that goes without saying. It’s fun to be here.”

It is difficult to find a new angle for Bergeron’s Selke prowess — but isn’t that exactly what makes Bergeron, Bergeron?

He is constantly improving his game, but he never tries to re-invent it. His consistency is what makes him special.

“It drives me a lot,” said the never-satisfied centerman. “I think it’s about trying to push your limits. That’s the way I always say it: be better as a person, but always as a hockey player.”

“It’s about learning and trying to tweak things here and there and talk to other guys, the way that they approach different plays and what not. Trying to be better is definitely important, to stay on top of your game and I think a lot of guys – everyone’s doing that — but it’s always fun to find ways to make yourself more competitive.”

Bergeron’s two competitors for the Selke Trophy this year include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and LA’s Anze Kopitar, who has been a fellow finalist for the past two seasons.

“They’re definitely great players, tough to play against, and it’s always huge battles,” said Bergeron. “Can’t say enough about these two guys, they’re great players and they really play the game the right way. It’s never easy.”

“He’s a great player, great talent, great skill,” Kesler said of Bergeron. “He works hard and I think that’s why he’s up for this award every year.”

If Bergeron takes home his fourth Selke on Wednesday night, he’ll tie Hall of Famer and former Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey for the most times winning the award. Gainey was the first player to receive the Selke, and was given the honor for four straight years from 1977-81.

“To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it — I mean, I can’t lie, it’d be special,” said Bergeron. “Mr. Gainey has been a legend of the game and someone I thought was a great model and really an example for young players and he’s done a terrific job in his career, but also after his career, to be successful, so it would be a huge honor.”

For Bergeron, though, no individual award will take the place of the ultimate one.

“I want to win definitely another Stanley Cup,” he said. “That’s the ultimate goal and just having a chance — I was lucky enough to know and understand what the emotion and everything you go through by winning — and it would be very special and amazing to have to be able to go through that again.”

“It’s definitely the one and only goal, really. Having said that before, the individuals awards are not why I’m playing the game, and I know everyone here would be saying the same thing — it’s all about the Cup and Pittsburgh’s the only one that accomplished what they started the season for, so that’s what it’s all about.”

Vegas All the Rage

With the possibility of the NHL expanding to Las Vegas, the talk has certainly heated up during the NHL Awards.

“I think it’s unique… it’s one of those cities or markets where a lot of people from the outside want to go to and spend a weekend there, and maybe catch a game,” said Bergeron. “They’ve also showed a commitment by having I think over 10,000 season tickets sold, so I guess the market’s there and hopefully it works out, because ultimately that’s all you want — you want the League to be thriving and the markets to be doing well.”

“I got here [Monday] and I talked to a few local people, employees from the hotel, and they were pretty excited about maybe having a team here and the first professional team, so it seems like the excitement is there.”

During the availability, a reporter asked Bergeron, “When someone says Las Vegas, what is the first thing that pops into your head?”

“Hockey,” he smirked.

“Obviously it’s city that has a lot of diversity and plenty of things to do,” he continued. “Looking forward to seeing how it’s going to work out.”

Eriksson Home with Family

Bergeron isn’t the only Bruin up for an award this year. Loui Eriksson is a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, given annually “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."

Eriksson and his wife recently welcomed their fourth child and he is back in Sweden with his family, so he was unable to attend the NHL Awards.

“Loui’s one of those guys that, all the intangibles that he brings on the ice, but also off the ice, he’s a great guy,” said Bergeron. “Definitely deserves this recognition.”

The last Bruin to win the Lady Byng Trophy was Rick Middleton in 1981-82.

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