Friday, April 25, 2008

The Selke nominees

Between the three of them they scored 94 goals and dished out 138 assists. That's some pretty decent offense for a trio of forwards being recognized for their defensive prowess.

Then again, in Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and John Madden, the three candidates for this year's Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the League's best defensive forward, you have three of the best two-way players in the game.
Decent choices, but as per my thoughts earlier, Patrick Sharp should have really been considered for this one.

The Hockey News' Ken Campbell has a piece in the magazine's latest issue where he argues that (a) point totals should be a factor in picking the Selke winner, and (b) players like Sami Pahlson, who "kill offence," shouldn't be eligible:
It's time the league diminished the importance of the Selke Trophy and stopped rewarding players for their efforts in trying to shut down players people pay good money to score goals and create entertainment.

To their credit, the members of the PHWA, who choose the winner of the Selke, Have taken it upon themselves to make the award one that actually goes to the best two-way forward in recent years, much the way the Hart Trophy has gone from being awarded to the player most valuable to his team to the best player.
One wonders how Campbell feels about the Vezina, which rewards netminders for shutting down his goal-scoring pals.

Playing good defence against the most difficult opposition in the league is a skill, whether it's a forward or shutdown defenceman doing the checking, and I like the fact the NHL rewards it. Why should every award be for the Ovechkins and Crosbys when hockey is such a complex game, one built just as much around preventing goals by the stars as scoring them.

We're going to ignore a huge segment of the league when it comes to the hardware simply because their skills aren't deemed entertaining enough?

Here's Campbell:
If the league really wants to encourage offence, perhaps it should start by discouting those who try to kill it. I like Samuel Pahlsson as much as the next guy, but he has no business wearing a tuxedo at the annual NHL awards.
If I didn't know better, I'd call this justification for how poor the PHWA selections have been over the years.

I wonder if he voted for Thomas Vanek last year? He was pretty exciting.



At 12:52 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Jeez, so Campbell thinks that if they change the Selke criteria that Pahlsson will stop playing his tight-checking game?

psst, there's a reason why players prevent goals against, and it isn't to get their names on a silly individual trophy.

At 1:01 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

One wonders how Campbell feels about the Vezina, which rewards netminders for shutting down his
goal-scoring pals.

That deserves a +1, or LOL, or something. Tres bien, James.

At 1:19 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Good stuff. It should be noted that the team that won the Jennings award is represented well in the Norris and the Selke finalists, but not the Vezina category. No one accuses Detroit of being unwatchable for their stellar defensive play, yet they look to be a lock to sweep the defensive categories.

I would find it grossly hyporcrytical of the hockey community to praise good hard work, and put a huge emphasis on having a strong penalty kill unit and not reward the forwards responsible for such an important element in team play. And while I think Datsyuk is an excellent two-way player, he doesn't play nearly enough PK minutes (I think he was listed as 5th or 6th on Detroit for PK TOI for forwards) for me to justify calling him the best defensive forward in the league. Madden's a more appropriate choice, but as you pointed out, Sharp is a much more compelling case.

At 1:27 p.m., April 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharp really was unbelievable on the penalty kill, but he actually made his team worse defensively when he was on the ice at even strength (2.71 GA/60 with Sharp on the ice, versus 2.4 GA/60 overall). Obviously a lot of that has to do with quality of competition, but that's still gotta disqualify him in my books.

At 1:30 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Wouldn't all of that have to do with quality of competition?

It also relates to quality of linemates, and Sharp doesn't have a shutdown cast around him the way the boys in Detroit do.

At 1:57 p.m., April 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saskhab--Sharp was 8th among Chicago forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game.

James--Yeah, I think Sharp's linemates could have made all the difference, but is there a stat to show that? I'm not convinced that solid penalty killing necessarily translates to good defensive play 5-on-5, and I'm not even convinced his unreal season on the PK had more to do with skill than luck.

At 2:06 p.m., April 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saskhab--I looked closer, and two of the forwards ahead of Sharp in PK TOI had played only 1 and 5 games, so he's realistically at least 6th. Another played only 27 games, so maybe even as high as 5th.

At 2:06 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Common, get real. Sharp gets put behind for playing fewer shorthanded minutes per game than guys who played one and five games this season?

He was second among forwards in total shorthanded minutes this season, and played 40 more minutes than Datsyuk on the penalty kill.

And check the quality of teammate stat: Datsyuk's fifth best in the league.

And Sharp still has a GA/60 that's better than the majority of forwards on his team.

At 2:21 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

So wait, the best defensive forward...shouldn't play defensively?

I need to sit down. That's fucking deep.

At 2:24 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

Also, I think it's time that people who know what the hell they're talking about get to vote for the Selke. How about the 30 head coaches?

At 2:48 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Old said...

I am convinced the award should go to Sharp, but believe it will go to a Detriot fellow.

At 2:52 p.m., April 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you expect from the league that only started rewarding goal scorers couple of years ago. Rocket Richard Trophy is what 10 years old now?

Every European league has awarded leading goal scorer with trophy basically forever but NHL had this jokes (Lady Byng, Selke, Preparation-H etc.) well before trophy for the most important part of the game.

Preventing goals gets you only so far. To win you need to score goals between one and many.

Selke and Lady Byng are ho-hum.

At 2:52 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger lakings173 said...


What do you think about Frolov in LA?

In 71 games he had 23 goals and 67 points, with only 22 PIM.

Please tell me where you'd rank him...

At 3:39 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Timothy said...

I thought Kesler was supposed to win this?

*ducks beer bottles*

At 3:52 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

Anon: The Selke basically came about because everyone wanted to reward Bob Gainey for being an integral part of the Habs' dynasty, but there wasn't anything to reward what he did. So they made something.

The way I see it, a good set of defensive forwards talented but gentlemanly (read "disciplined" if you'd like) players are sort of the key to winning, most years. Fine, Anaheim won last year despite their time in the sin bin, but I think if you look at the post-Broad Street Bullies era, the most-penalized teams in the League usually don't go far. So yeah, the Selke and Lady Byng, while harder to quantify, are no less important in the grand scheme of things. The lack of a goal-scorer's trophy, though, was a travesty, you're right.

At 10:21 p.m., April 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What's with the Vanek cheapshot? He was like plus 50 last year. It's obvious that some voters literally just "mailed it in" and selected Vanek based only on his +/- (the worst stat in pro sports). Yeah, he's no Selke candidate, but you cam't deny he had an amazing season. Just ask Kevin Lowe.

At 10:25 p.m., April 25, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Vanek is a lot of things, but he's not a defensive forward. For him to be voted, by anyone, as the top one in the league is a joke.


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