Pavel Datsyuk had won the Frank J. Selke Trophy three years in a row as the NHL’s best defensive forward. Datsyuk was aiming to make it four in a row but Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler had something to say about that as he took home his first Selke Trophy beating out Datsyuk and Jonathan Toews for the award.
Kesler’s season in helping shut down opposing top centers on top of scoring 41 goals and having 65 takeaways, 80 blocked shots, and delivering 124 hits on top of being a top faceoff man helped put him over the top as the league’s best defensive forward. While Datsyuk had great numbers of his own, he missed 26 games this season. That was 26 missed opportunities to dazzle the voters. Expect Datsyuk and Kesler to do battle over this award for the coming years as they’re easily the game’s two best.
The talented two-way forward came close to winning the Selke last year, but ran away with the voting. 105 of the 127 first-place votes. Earned 1,179 points, far ahead of runner-up Jonathan Toews’ 476.
Kesler reflected on his distinguished season shortly after collecting the Selke.
“I pride myself on being hard to play against and I think that’s what that award is all about,” Kesler said. “Forty-one goals and then being named for the Selke … it’s a season I’ll never forget.”
That being said, Kesler admits that it doesn’t take away all the pain from falling just one win short of the Canucks’ first ever Stanley Cup.
“Obviously it’s nice to get acknowledged but at the end of the day that [the Stanley Cup] is the trophy we all want,” Kesler said. “It’s still hard to swallow now, but I’m sure in the next couple of weeks we’re going to look back and realize we had a great season, and we came one game away. Obviously it wasn’t our goal to come one game away, we wanted to win. But we did a lot of things as an organization that we’ve never done before. We won a Presidents trophy, and we did a lot of things. Time heals all wounds, right?”
Kesler fought hard through rumored injuries and truly burst onto the scene when he dominated the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference semifinals. It seems like a safe bet to expect Kesler’s name to come up in Selke discussions for a long time to come, even if his margin of victory might not ever be so substantial.