CHICAGO – If Henrik Zetterberg had his way, the league should only have to name two of the three finalists for the Selke Trophy each spring. The third nomination would automatically go to Pavel Datsyuk.
“I’m really happy for him. It’s not a big surprise,” said Zetterberg as he spoke of his teammate’s sixth straight nomination for the annual award that goes to the league’s best defensive forward.
“I think he should be up for it every year,” Zetterberg added. “He’s been really good for us this year.”
At 34-years-old, Datsyuk continues to astonish the hockey world with his incredible talent and wizardry. He tied for the league lead with 56 takeaways, and led the Red Wings with a plus-21 rating won 55 percent of his face-offs. He finished the lockout-shortened season with 15 goals and 34 assists in 47 games.
With his nomination, the three-time Selke winner has surpassed the streaks of Montreal's Guy Carbonneau (1986-90) and Bob Gainey (1978-82) as the longest since the award was introduced in 1978.
“I’m honored to be nominated with two unbelievable players,” Datayuk said, following the team’s morning skate at the United Center where the Red Wings will open up their Western Conference semifinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
Joining Datsyuk as Selke finalists are Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron.
Datyuk’s all-around game helped the Red Wings finish fifth team defense, allowing 2.29 goals-against per game, the club’s stingiest performance since the 2007-08 season.
“He’s been good. He’s a real good player,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I’ve had the good fortunate to coach all three of (the finalists). They’re good, good men, and they play without the puck and they help you win at the playoffs.”
Earlier this month, Datsyuk learned that he is this year’s recipient of the Kharlamov Trophy given to the most valuable Russian player in the NHL. Datayuk also won the award in 2011.
Datsyuk returned to Russia during the NHL lockout and played for CSKA Moscow where he produced 11 goals and 25 assists in 31 games. But it was his shootout goal against Traktor Chelyabinsk that gained much fanfare in his native country, even earning him the KHL award for the season’s top goal.
“I know it’s not easy in both leagues there is lots of good players,” Datsyuk said. “It’s a big honor to be announced as both and to win one of them. Now I’m looking to second one.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose