It wasn’t long before the NHL awards season got its first taste of lobbying.
On Monday, Claude Julien kicked it off.
With his team prepping for a massive Game 7 against Washington, Boston’s head coach staked a claim for the Selke, saying his No. 1 center — Patrice Bergeron — should win the award given annually to the league’s best defensive forward.
“In my mind, there’s no doubt that Patrice deserves this,” Julien told CSNNE.com. “The way he’s played this year, the things he’s done to be nominated, how good he’s been defensively.
“He’s got two young players on each side of him. He’s played against top players all year long, and he’s the best plus-player, probably of that group.”
Bergeron’s made a strong case for the Selke Trophy, which he’ll compete for with fellow nominees David Backes and three-time winner Pavel Datsyuk. Bergeron finished second on the Bruins in scoring, second in the NHL in faceoff percentage (59.3 percent) and led all Boston forwards with 67 blocked shots and 55 takeaways.
He also led the league with a plus-36 rating.
“Offensively, defensively, key situations, he’s done everything to deserve that,” Julien said. “To be honest with you, I’d be very disappointed if he didn’t win that.
“That’s how I feel.”
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.