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Datsyuk wins third straight Selke

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT -- For the third straight year, Pavel Datsyuk left the NHL Awards Show with the Frank Selke Trophy, which he received Wednesday at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

Datsyuk drew laughs from those gathered in the Pearl Theater when he went on stage to collect the award as the league's top defensive forward, and in broken English thanked his supporters.

“I want to thank you to the Ilitch family for believing in me. I want to thank you to management for paying me,” he said. “I wish it never stops.”

Datsyuk is only the second player in league history to win the Selke at least three times, and the first since Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey claimed four straight, including the inaugural award in 1978.

Datsyuk was also nominated for a fifth straight Lady Byng Trophy for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. But his streak was stopped at four when Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis took the Lady Byng home.

Former New York Rangers center Frank Boucher holds the record for most Lady Byng awards, winning it seven times, including four straight (1928-31) in a 14-season NHL career. Legendary Wayne Gretzky won five Byng trophies, doing so with three different teams between 1980 and 1999.

If Datsyuk had won the Lady Byng on Wednesday, we would have joined an incredibly small class with legends Bobby Orr and Gretzky as the only players ever to take home at least two prizes for three straight years. Gretzky was a Ross and Hart recipient seven consecutive times from 1981-87, and Orr captured the Norris and Hart trophies between 1970-72.

It’s no surprise that Datsyuk has become a regular at the league’s annual post-season award show. For six straight seasons, he has led the Red Wings in scoring, totaling 175 goals and 506 points in 472 regular-season games.

And the category that best lends itself to the Selke is takeaways, something Datsyuk has turned into an art form. Over the last four seasons, he is the only player to finish each season among the league’s top five puck thieves.

Again this season, Datsyuk led the league with 132 takeaways – 49 more than Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, who finished second in the category. Kesler, a Livonia, Mich., native, and Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal were also Selke finalists.

Datsyuk received 37 first-place Selke votes and was named on 99 of 133 ballots for a total of 688 points, edging Kesler (36 first-place votes, 655 points) in the closest race of 2009-10 NHL Awards voting.

Legendary Red Wing Ted Lindsay was at the Pearl Theater to present the newly renamed MVP award in his honor by the National Hockey League Players’ Association, which he was so instrumental in establishing more than 50 years ago.

But being live TV mistakes happen, which was the case during Alexander Ovechkin's acceptance speech when the show transitioned into the introduction of comedian Reese Waters. Eventually, Ovechkin was given time to finish, but not before a few uncomfortable seconds elapsed and Lindsay and co-presenter, CBC's Ron MacLean, had already walked off the stage.

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