Bergeron honored, humbled by Selke Trophy victory

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Bergeron honored, humbled by Selke Trophy victory

LAS VEGAS, NV Patrice Bergeron was typically modest and deferential in accepting the greatest individual honor of his career, but there was no mistaking how much the honor meant to him as he scanned the names on the Frank J. Selke Trophy Award after winning the honor as the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
No matter what happened before for Bergeron and no matter what greatness awaits him in a career that seems destined for forever in Boston, the two-way center is no longer the grossly underrated superstar doing all the little things right.
One look at the Selke Trophy while speaking with the assembled media clued him into that.
Im just looking at it right here... and this is only one side of it, said Bergeron, but I see Rob BrindAmour, Pavel Datsyuk, Jere Lehtonen, Sergei Federov theyre all guys that I played with in the league and that Ive watched on TV.
Its very impressing and its very humbling. Its an honor and Im very happy.
It was a long time coming for a player that nearly had his NHL career derailed five years ago by a major concussion that put him out for an entire year. The trophy among the NHLs best and brightest was validation that No. 37 is even better than he was prior to the Randy Jones hit-from-behind that threatened his career, and hes still getting better as he enters his prime years.
Bergeron took pains to make certain that everyone knew the award was just as much an accomplishment for his teammates as it was individual recognition. But theres also a certain amount of self-reflection that comes with winning awards and earning league-wide recognition, and Bergeron was feeling every bit of that at the Wynn Casino and Resort on Wednesday night.
Sometimes you have to look back at what youve accomplished over past years. I was always confident I could come back from my injuries, but winning the Stanley Cup was my dream come true, said Bergeron. Winning the Selke is something Im very proud of. I always believed.
But its always nice to be recognized that maybe my game is back and maybe even better than it was before. I just want to keep improving.
Bergeron finished the season with a face-off winning percentage over 59 percent while amassing over 1,600 draws, and the two-way center led the NHL with a plusminus of 36. With those kind of numbers that far dwarfed his competition, he blew away all other defensive forward prospects despite some solid fellow candidates in David Backes and Pavel Datsyuk. Bergeron finished with 1,312 vote points while Backes was the second-place finisher with 698 vote points.
It feels special. Playing both sides of the rink is something that I take a lot of pride in. Thats the way I learned to play hockey, said Bergeron. To win an award for the best defensive forward is something special, but I cant do this without my teammates. Im really happy that my name is going to be on this trophy.
The Selke field was perhaps lightened a bit this year when both Jonathan Toews and Ryan Kesler were felled with injuries, but theres no reason to think this couldnt be a run of Selke Trophies for a player thats just beginning to establish how good he can be.
Chara gave Bergeron a big bear hug as the two said their goodbyes after the awards ceremony. The Bruins captains pride in his teammate was obvious, and his words beforehand underscored that.
Im extremely happy for him, said Chara. He means a lot. To have him on the team playing every role in every situation at crucial times in the games... you can always count on him on or off the ice. Hes a tremendous hockey player and person.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
 

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.