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Couturier Repeats as Bobby Clarke Trophy Winner

For the second straight year, center Sean Couturier was deemed team MVP by a panel of local hockey writers and broadcasters

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer / philadelphiaflyers.com

Created in the first season after his retirement as a player, the Bobby Clarke Trophy honors the player chosen as the Flyers most valuable player. This season, for the second straight year, center Sean Couturier was deemed team MVP by a panel of local hockey writers and broadcasters. 

Now in his ninth NHL season, all with the Flyers, Couturier is in the thick of his career prime at age 27. He will turn 28 on Dec. 7. 

"There have been a lot of great names throughout Flyers history who have won this and it's a great honor to receive it," said Couturier. "Without my teammates it would be hard to accept this. They were a big part of my success this year and I think the overall experience of our lineup that we've added and the younger guys getting older every year, it's been a good mix and has led us to have that success."

A Selke Trophy finalist in 2017-18, many pundits have Couturier pegged as the front-runner this year to win the NHL's award for the top defensive forward. Although his offensive stats were slightly down this season from the pace of his back-to-back seasons with 30-plus goals and 76 points, Couturier had a consistently outstanding campaign by just about any measure.

Couturier was a model of consistency. He only went as many as three consecutive games without a point once this entire season (Oct. 24 to 27). Meanwhile, he had 14 multi-point games, two point streaks of four games (Oct. 15 to 21 and Jan. 2 to 8) and a five-game point streak (Oct. 29 to Nov. 7). Over the final 26 games before the NHL pause, Couturier posted 24 points (10g, 14a) and a +10 rating.

One of the most dominant faceoff men in the NHL, Couturier won draws in 2019-20 at a stellar 59.6 percent clip (59.9% at even strength, 62.8% on the power play, and 53.5% on the penalty kill). He is especially good on left circle faceoffs. 

Couturier has averaged 19:50 of ice time per game this season -- tops among Flyers forwards -- including 2:46 per game on the power play and 2:02 on the penalty kill. Couturier has been called upon to play 20 or more minutes of ice time 31 times this season, including a season-high 26:18 in the Flyers' 5-4 shootout win in Ottawa on Dec. 21.

The veteran pivot ranked second among Flyers forwards this season with an on-ice 55.55% expected goals percentage at 5-on-5 and tops the team with a 56.25% Corsi.

The cherry on top of the sundae: Couturier went 3-for-8 in shootouts this season. All three of his successful attempts proved to be the game-winning goal.

There are players in the NHL with better speed than Couturier. There are some with more natural offensive gifts. There are, however, precious few who are more complete, more hockey savvy or physically stronger both off-puck and in 50-50 battles. He is also strong in the intangibles. The player has evolved over the years from a shy youngster who deferred to the NHL veterans on the roster to a highly respected leader-by-example who has his finger on the pulse of the team. Similar to defenseman Matt Niskanen, Couturier may not speak up regularly but everyone pays attention when he does. He's also become one of the local media's go-to players and calming presences under pressure. 

Couturier has become the 10th repeat winner in the history of the Bobby Clarke award, and the seventh to win it in two or more consecutive seasons. Flyers captain Claude Giroux holds the franchise record with five overall Clarke Trophy wins. Two players -- Flyers Hall of Fame goaltender Ron Hextall from 1986-87 through 1988-89 and Hockey Hall of Fame center Eric Lindros from 1993-94 through1995-96 -- won the team MVP award in three straight seasons. 

BOBBY CLARKE TROPHY HISTORY

1984-85 Pelle Lindbergh
1985-86 Mark Howe
1986-87 Ron Hextall
1987-88 Ron Hextall
1988-89 Ron Hextall
1989-90 Rick Tocchet
1990-91 Pelle Eklund
1991-92 Rod Brind'Amour
1992-93 Mark Recchi
1993-94 Eric Lindros
1994-95 Eric Lindros
1995-96 Eric Lindros
1996-97 John LeClair
1997-98 John LeClair
1998-99 Eric Lindros
1999-00 Mark Recchi
2000-01 Roman Cechmanek
2001-02 Jeremy Roenick
2002-03 Roman Cechmanek
2003-04 Mark Recchi
2005-06 Simon Gagne
2006-07 Simon Gagne
2007-08 Mike Richards
2008-09 Mike Richards
2009-10 Chris Pronger
2010-11 Claude Giroux
2011-12 Claude Giroux
2012-13 Jakub Voracek
2013-14 Claude Giroux
2014-15 Jakub Voracek
2015-16 Claude Giroux
2016-17 Wayne Simmonds
2017-18 Claude Giroux
2018-19 Sean Couturier
2019-20 Sean Couturier

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