Will Sidney Crosby Earn a Selke Trophy Nomination?


Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is no stranger to NHL trophies.

Through 10 NHL seasons, Crosby has racked up seemingly every award imaginable. He has two Art Ross trophies as the league’s scoring leader, one Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the goal-scoring leader, and one Stanley Cup.

He’s twice been given the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, and has thrice been voted the best player by his peers as well.

Despite the Canadian superstar’s well-stocked trophy cabinet, there has always been one award that seemed out of reach for him – the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

The Selke Trophy is awarded each year to the NHL’s best two-way forward – i.e. the forward who excels most in the defensive aspects of the game.

While Crosby has long been considered the sport’s best player, and his defensive acumen has been acknowledged, his skill set has always aligned much more with volume scoring than with reliable backchecking.

The latter role has been left to the likes of Patrice Bergeron or Jonathan Toews – the last two Selke winners.

Crosby has been a different player in 2014-15, however. While many have accused the captain of simply losing a step and seeing his offensive wizardry ebb away as well (he’s on pace to post the lowest point total of his career when playing over 70 games, despite leading the league in scoring), those on the inside know the true cause of Crosby’s decreased numbers.

“There was a certain way we wanted to play and a certain attention I knew we had to pay to our defensive play,” said Penguins head coach Mike Johnston to Jason Mackey recently. “Sid is such a smart player. He knows both ends of the rink are important. I’m sure he’d like to win the scoring title by 15 points, but he bought in right away.”

Crosby has certainly upped his defensive play as of late, and the result has been an improved defensive attitude for the team as a whole, as his teammates have followed their captain’s lead.

While other notable two-way stars such as Bergeron and Toews may still be the standard in terms of defensive play, Crosby has certainly thrown his name into the conversation.

Known for honing in on specific aspects of his game to improve in the offseason (as was previously the case with his faceoff success and his goal-scoring), Crosby has once again re-shaped his game, emerging as a key defensive pillar for the Pens.

If Crosby were to win the Selke, he’d have a shot at making some serious historical waves.

Never before has a player won both the Art Ross Trophy and Selke Trophy in the same season. The closest instance of this occurring came in 1994 when Sergei Federov won the Selke while finishing second in the scoring race.

While it’s unlikely the Pens captain will be awarded both trophies this time around, Crosby certainly has put himself in a position to warrant a strong chance at winning each.

Regardless of what trophies fill the captain’s cabinet by the season’s end, it’s clear that, despite the criticism and the subpar play of the team as of late, Crosby has once again revamped and improved his already elite on-ice performance.

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