April 23, 2012

Selke nomination a deserving honor for Bruins' Bergeron

By Jesse Connolly

For what seems like an eternity, Bruins' fans have been pining for Patrice Bergeron to get the recognition he so fully deserves.

Under coach Claude Julien, the B's alternate captain has regularly matched up with and shut down the opposition's top line on a nightly basis, all while still managing to produce at a high rate down the other end of the ice.

On Monday, the NHL named Bergeron as one of the three candidates for the Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the game's best defensive forward.

"It’s obviously a huge honor," said Bergeron. " I’m flattered by it, to be named with two great players like [David] Backes and [Pavel] Datsyuk. But still, I think it goes for all my teammates and I really believe in that."

This is Bergeron’s first time being nominated for the Selke Trophy in his eight year NHL career. The 26-year-old led the NHL in plus/minus this season at plus-36 and won the most faceoffs in the NHL with 973.

Bergeron’s faceoff win percentage of 59.3% was second best in the NHL, trailing only Chicago’s Jonathan Towes by .1% (59.4%).

Despite such personal accolades, Bergeron still deflected all the credit to others.

"I  take pride in playing both sides of the rink and the little details in order to help the team win as much as I can," he said. "But the same time, I don’t really believe in individual awards as much as the team efforts.  I think every time you’re nominated for an award like that it’s because of your teammates and the help of all of them."

Julien, who has coached Bergeron for five seasons now and long sung the center's praises, feels as though no one defines the meaning of the award better than his pivotal pivot.

"In my mind, there’s no doubt that Patrice deserves this (with) the way he’s played this year, the things he’s done to be nominated, how good he’s been defensively," Boston's bench boss said. " 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. Faceoff wise, he’s been utilized in every situation. Offensively, defensively, key situations – he’s done everything to deserve that. To be honest with you, I’d be very disappointed if he didn’t win that. That’s how I feel."

Julien's certainly not alone.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.