(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

Bruins first-year captain Patrice Bergeron has further enshrined his legacy as one of the best two-way players ever to play the game, as the 35-year-old was announced as a Frank J. Selke Trophy finalist for the tenth straight season. The Selke Trophy is awarded every year to the forward who best exemplifies the defensive components of the game. Bergeron has won the trophy four times in his career, tied with former Montreal Canadiens winger Bob Gainey for the most wins ever.

Bergeron earned another impressive nomination this season, and he’ll be going up against Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone, both captains of their respective clubs. Bergeron finished the regular season with 23 goals and 48 points in 54 games, finishing the season tied for second on the team in points behind winger Brad Marchand. The most eye-opening of all of Bergeron’s statistics this season is his 62.25 face-off win percentage, which was the best of his 17-year career thus far.

Bergeron has always been known as one of the best face-off men in the NHL, playing in any and all situations head coach Bruce Cassidy can put him in. Sealing a spot on the first power-play unit as well as the first penalty kill unit further explains how Bergeron is so effective. He plays in all situations, does the little things right, and gets rewarded for doing so. Bergeron doesn’t have as big of a spotlight on the team as Marchand or even David Pastrnak, both line-mates, but his reliable 200-foot game will never go unnoticed. Mistakes on his behalf are almost non-existent and very rare at best.

Both Bergeron and Marchand played a huge role for the Bruins defensively this season, anchoring the top penalty-killing unit for the team. Marchand potted four short-handed goals, and Bergeron scored three. Short-handed goals are fairly rare league-wide, but the Bruins top duo exceeded expectations as two of the better two-way forwards in the league. They also did so, impressively, against many of the powerhouse teams of the MassMutual East Division, whom they played season-long due to travel restrictions and the league’s structure during the pandemic.

Bergeron’s leadership on the Bruins has been a factor of his play and character since he came into the league in 2003. He was an up-and-coming second-round pick, 45th overall, who had to develop his game at the professional level more completely, as most draftees do. He took that literally, focusing on competing and elevating his own game before elevating the play of his many line-mates and teammates. He focused on the little things that made him so effective in the middle of the ice, even now at age 35.

By his seventh season, Bergeron had grown into part of the leadership group that was led by then-captain Zdeno Chara. Bergeron spent most of that 2010-11 season playing with Marchand, who was in his second NHL season, and former Bruin Mark Recchi, who also wore an “A” on his jersey at age 42. Recchi’s last career game was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks, where Bergeron and company led the Bruins to their first Cup since 1972. Since then, Bergeron’s two-way play has been the stable driving force to success for the Bruins in the past decade.

Bergeron followed that victory with two more trips to the Stanley Cup Final as an alternate captain in 2013 and 2019, both close losses. His play in Game 7 of the first round of the 2013 playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs will bring back the gold memories for Bruins fans as well, as he scored the game-winning goal after the Bruins came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period. With Chara’s departure before the 2020-21 season, it was no question Bergeron’s brilliance in the black and gold earned him the captaincy. He followed up the announcement playing arguably one of his most complete seasons of his career, his first as the go-to leader and captain of the Boston Bruins. Although it was a shortened season, Bergeron was still effective and his usual strong self.

Not only is Bergeron a suitable leader for the Bruins, but his tenth-straight Selke Trophy nomination has earned him recognition as one of the best two-way forwards of the era and one of the best two-way players all time. A fifth Selke Trophy win would make him have the most wins all-time and would further cement that legacy, but we all know that Bergeron’s main goal for the Bruins is to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup by the end of the 2020-21 season. Bergeron’s leadership and play won’t go unnoticed if that’s the end result, and either way, he should be a serious contender for a fifth Selke win, Cup victory, or not.