In 1978, the National Hockey League introduced an award to reward the best defensive forward in the game. According to NHL.com, the Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
Players like Bob Gainey, Steve Kasper, Doug Jarvis, Craig Ramsay, Guy Carbonneau, Dirk Graham, Michael Peca, Jere Lehtinen, John Madden and Kris Draper, just to name a few, all have their name engraved on the Trophy. Those were players who excelled in a checking role, as well as in killing penalties.
But in the last 4 years, for whatever reason, the people selecting (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association) changed the perimeters and no one has said anything. Pavel Datsyuk, an excellent hockey player who is responsible defensively at even strength, has been nominated for 4 consecutive seasons, winning the award the last 3 years.
It can certainly be argued that in the first two years, Datsyuk was killing penalties for his team as he spend on average 1:47 minutes per game in 2007-08 and 1:36 minutes per game in that role in 2008-09. But last year, Datsyuk spent an average of 44 seconds per game on the penalty kill and won the award reserved for the best defensive forward in the game, ahead of Ryan Kesler and Jordan Staal, two guys who averaged well over 2:30 minutes per game shorthanded!
This season, Datsyuk is once again nominated for the Selke, averaging only 39 seconds per game in penalty killing situations!
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Datsyuk is excellent defensively but my question to the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and to you fellow fans is this: Shouldn’t the best defensive forward in the entire NHL be good enough to play in key defensive situations such as the penalty kill?