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The NHL's Selke Trophy Really Ought To Be Named For Patrice Bergeron At This Point

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- An old trope of the sports world always pops up when a player wins or gets nominated for a particular awards several times, wherein we all share a guffaw and utter the classic line, "They oughtta put his name on the award!"

But. Well. There's really no other way of saying it.

They really ought to put Patrice Bergeron's name on the Selke Trophy.

The Boston Bruins captain is a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the 10th consecutive year, the NHL announced over the weekend. That means that for 10 straight years, Bergeron has been among the top-three vote-getters for the award, which he's won four times.

The award, of course, is given to "the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game." That's not always the simplest aspect to judge, but Bergeron has been arguably the most consistent 200-foot player in the NHL for the past dozen or so years.

In this unique COVID-shortened season, Bergeron scored 23 goals and tallied 25 assists for 48 points and a team-best plus-27 rating in 54 games played. He also won a career-best 62.2 percent of faceoffs, and he scored three shorthanded goals.

By possession numbers, Bergeron was elite, with a 62.5 Corsi For percentage at even strength. Bergeron averaged 3:18 of power play time per game and 1:49 of shorthanded time on ice per game, registering a team-high 13 shorthanded shots on goal.

As a team, the Bruins were the fourth-stingiest at allowing goals this season, and Boston outscored opponents 87-45 in all scenarios when Bergeron was on the ice. That includes getting outscored just 12-7 when Bergeron was on the ice in a shorthanded situation.

The other finalists for this year's Selke Trophy are Aleksander Barkov and Mark Stone. It's possible that the centermen from Florida and Vegas, respectively, have earned more votes from the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, and thus will take home the trophy.

But if that's the case, it may merely be a matter of voters getting tired of giving the award to the best two-way forward in hockey for yet another season. That's certainly happened before -- maybe when Anze Kopitar won it in 2016, or maybe when Sean Couturier won it last year. No, wasn't it the Jonathan Toews win in 2013? It's hard to keep track. It's been so long.

The larger point is that when the award can pretty much be given to Bergeron every year, it's probably time to to just make him exempt from consideration. We don't know Frank J. Selke all that well, but I'm sure he was a very nice man. So we ought not remove his name from the trophy. That would be rude.

But perhaps a solution could be reached. Maybe "The Frank J. Selke Trophy, Presented by Patrice Bergeron" does the trick. Maybe it could just be a colloquial addition to everyone's repertoire, as in, "Player X has never won a Bergeron, as this is his first time being a finalist for the Selke Trophy."

Or maybe not.

Whatever the case may be, Bergeron is tied with Bob Gainey for having won the the most Selke Trophies since it became an award in its 40-plus-year history. Gainey won the award in its first four years of existence, from 1978-81. Other players have made strong runs; Guy Carbonneau won three times, as did Jere Lehtinen and Pavel Datsyuk. Tremendous runs by all.

But nobody's quite left a mark on the award like Bergeron, who for 10 straight years has been considered one of the three best two-way forwards in the best hockey league on the planet. Four times, he's earned the hardware as the very best. He garnered the second-most votes three times, and he slacked off and only got the third-most votes twice.

They won't actually name the award after him. That's not how things work. But ... they really ought to. It's hard to recall a player ever taking such ownership of one award the way that Bergeron has with the Selke.

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