Patrice Bergeron’s stellar 200-foot play throughout his 14-year career has earned him four Selke Awards. Barring any injury or major dropoff in production, Bergeron will surpass Bob Gainey for most Selke wins at June’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Given that he’s on pace for a career-year in 2017-18, Bergeron may have his ‘Hart’ set on another prestigious award.
It’s been long overdue, but Bergeron is finally getting recognition in the Hart Trophy discussion — given out to the league’s Most Valuable Player — among peers and media scribes throughout the National Hockey League. In a year that’s included two hat tricks, one first star of the month (for December) and second star of the month (January) honors, the longest tenured Bruins is set to surpass his career-high 73 points set in 2005-06; his second year in the league.
Of course, a lot can change between now and the end of the regular season. One thing that won’t change is Bergeron putting his own two cents in the MVP conversation.
“I don’t have any thoughts on that, to be honest with you,” the always humble Bergeron said following practice Friday at Warrior Ice Arena. “I’m not really thinking about it. There’s 30 games left [in the regular season] and I’ll leave that up to you guys to discuss. To me it’s not really something [I think about], it’s a team game and that’s how I want it to be.”
Bergeron isn’t going to do much chattering about his Hart Trophy chances. But his teammates will.
There’s one linemate in particular who hopes Bergeron adds another piece of hardware to his trophy case.
“He deserves it. He gets recognized for the Selke every year, and rightfully so because he’s a great two-way guy,” Brad Marchand, who’s formed a dynamic duo with Bergeron since his rookie season in 2010-11, said.
“What he does for this team and how valuable he is I think does go unnoticed at times. To see him get rewarded, it would be awesome to get the recognition he deserves; and especially with how hard he works to get there and to do everything he does. He’s amongst the top in the league — he always has been — and he should definitely be recognized for that.”
For better or for worse, the Hart Trophy usually goes to one of the leading scorers in the NHL. Most of the time, as was the case with Connor McDavid last year, there’s no debate. Other years can provide head-scratchers, like Corey Perry winning the award in 2011 in a year where Tim Thomas wasn’t even a finalist despite having one of the best single seasons for a goaltender in league history.
As of Friday, Bergeron sits 43rd in the league in points (47) 14th in goals (24), 27th in points per game (0.98) and tied for 91st in assists (22). Nikita Kucherov, another mid-February Hart favorite, leads the league with 68 points, while Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin — the only two 30-goal scorers thus far — are also in the discussion.
All four are worthy of discussion, but Bergeron’s case is quite significant. Whether it’s winning a key faceoff, finding open areas in the slot, winning puck battles or quarterbacking the power play and penalty kill units, Bergeron has excelled in every situation.
“I don’t know what doesn’t make him valuable. He does everything,” David Backes said about Bergeron. “He’s certainly well deserved in that [Hart] discussion. “I think if you talk about it with him, he’ll blow it off because he’s a guy who goes to work every day, gets his job done, goes home and gets ready for the next one and does it again the next day.
Backes, Marchand and Bruce Cassidy made the case for Bergeron. The latter’s actions, however, are louder than his words.
“I’d love it. It would be awesome for him to get acknowledged for his all-around game,” Cassidy said about Bergeron potentially nabbing the Hart Trophy. “It tends to go toward more scoring players, so that will be a hurdle that he’ll have to get over with the media…and hopefully he’s won over a lot more who’s around the league in terms of not being up there with the point total, and that’s tough because there [are] some pretty good candidates every year. But it’s great that he’s in that conversation.”
He’s been the most valuable player on the Black and Gold for nearly the last decade, and he just well may be the most valuable player in the National Hockey League come season’s end.
Simply put, Patrice Bergeron is in a league of his own.