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.
As we shared with you earlier, the NHL announced the three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the league’s best defensive forward: David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings.
If you’re curious about the case each of these players has to take home this year’s award, here’s a brief rundown:
– Datsyuk is a five-time finalist for the award and a three-time winner. His puck-stealing ability is legendary and his ability to turn defense into instant offense is well known throughout the league.
– Bergeron is building a legend of his own in Boston thanks to his gutsy play and ability to win faceoffs. He finished second in the NHL in faceoff percentage, behind Jonathan Toews, and is tops on the team in shorthanded time-on-ice. When the Bruins need someone to shutdown an opponent, they call on Bergeron.
– Backes is the Blues’ most physical presence up front. He doled out 226 hits, most on the team, while also taking the most faceoffs. His reputation as a physical dynamo is well known amongst the players and, thanks to the Blues’ success this year, is becoming the thing of folk lore with fans.
With that said, who’s your pick to win the award?
Backes, Bergeron, and Datsyuk are your Selke Trophy finalists
Datsyuk is a three-time winner of the Selke Trophy taking the hardware home in three straight seasons from 2007-08 to 2009-2010. Datsyuk was a finalist again last year but lost out to Canucks forward Ryan Kesler. This is Datsyuk’s fifth time being nominated for the award.
Bergeron and Backes are each first-time finalists for the award and both have impressive résumés.
Backes led the Blues in hits with 226 while also leading the team in faceoffs taken. Backes also blocked 72 shots and was a +15 in plus/minus this year. Bergeron, on the other hand, led the Bruins in shorthanded time-on-ice and won 59.2% of his faceoffs during the year, good for second in the league behind Jonathan Toews.
The winner will be announced on June 20 in Las Vegas.