LAS VEGAS, NV -- It's difficult to believe that five years ago some wondered if Patrice Bergeron's career might be over, or at the very least severely compromised because of a concussion that forced him to miss nearly an entire season with the Bruins.
But Bergeron has come back stronger than ever, and he was among the NHL's best at the Wynn Resort and Casino on Tuesday afternoon for the NHL Awards press availability.
Bergeron was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given to the NHL's best defensive forward, along with St. Louis forward David Backes and Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk. It's stiff competition, but Bergeron stands a good shot at his first award after dominating in the face-off circle and finishing among the NHL's top-5 in plusminus this season.
Add that to 20-plus goals and 60-plus points for Bergeron, and it appears that No. 37 is finally ready to move onto the league's radar. He's gone from the NHL's most underrated player to it's most respected two-way center in the span of a year.
All that being said, Bergeron will never place too much value in an individual award whether he wins or loses.
"It's a great honor to be here and the Selke is something that I've always held in high regard," said Bergeron. "But I also don't get too hung up on these awards. I'd take a Stanley Cup over an award any day of the week."
Bergeron battled through a strained oblique during the playoff series loss to the Washington Capitals, and that underscored just how important the center's health is to the team's success. Bergeron couldn't battle at full strength and he couldn't take face-offs, and the Bruins were a lesser team for it.
B's Captain Zdeno Chara has had an appreciation for Bergeron's impact on the team while watching him grow over the years.
"A player like Bergie is somebody that I have the ultimate respect for," said Chara, "He has the kind of ability to be one of the top offensive players in terms of points, but he also understands the importance of playing a two-way game.
"His individual offensive game might suffer a bit while he pays attention to detail on defense, but it's all done in order to make a stronger team. That's what we're all about."
Bergeron has the best chance of any Bruins player to bring home hardware after last season. That's truly saying something given just how many wondered whether Bergeron would ever be able to reach his potential after the course of his career changed so drastically five years ago.