At the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas, no one was surprised to see Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk defeat Flyers’ forward Mike Richards to take home his second consecutive Frank J. Selke trophy for the league’s best defensive forward. But as the voting numbers were counted, it turns out Mike had more support than expected.
According to the Flyers’ official site, Datsyuk defeated Richards 945-942. It was the closest vote since 1978, when the award began being issued.
Datsyuk was second in the league in takeaways with 89 and a plus/minus of +34, while Richards’ campaign for the award stood on his league leading seven shorthanded goals, with a plus/minus of +22.
For the first time in his short career, Flyers’ captain Mike Richards will get the respect his deserves in terms of accolades. The NHL has nominated Richards for the Selke award, for best defensive forward in the league.
Other nominees are Detroit forward and award favorite Pavel Datsyuk and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
Although Datsyuk is the favorite and epitome of two-way forward, Richards may have the resume to de-throne the champion, even though the award is not given as a result of pure stats, but of observation.
Richards scored 30 goals and had 50 assists to go along with his plus-22. He edged all forwards in blocked shots with 90 and led his team in hits with 137. He ranked third in the league, behind Evgeni Malkin and Datsyuk in takeaways with 83.
But where Richards may have the edge on Datsyuk is in shorthanded points.
Richards led the NHL in shorthanded goals with seven and SH points with nine. He also tallied a 5-on-3 goal, the third of his career.
The Flyers’ leader may very well not win the award this season. But with the reputation as a Selke-caliber forward, it won’t be the last chance Richards has to take home the trophy.