With no award show this season, due to the lockout, the NHL is spending Friday afternoon announcing some of the 2013 award winners, while the bigger awards (Hart, Vezina, etc.) will take place on Saturday. On Friday, though, a certain member of the Chicago Blackhawks took home some hardware.
Captain Jonathan Toews took home an award that many had seen as a long time coming for the Blackhawks’ top line center: the Frank J. Selke Trophy. Awarded to the league’s best defensive forward, the trophy has typically gone to bigger offensive names, who also succeed on defense. Hence why so many felt that Toews was worth of the award.
Up against the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk, a pair of perennial Selke finalists, Toews barely edged out the former for the trophy. Bergeron, last season’s Selke winner, actually had more first place votes than Toews, but Toews just ended up winning out.
There’s no doubt that the captain is deserving of the award. He’s not only an elite offensive player in the game, but he represents one of the very best two-way centers. He’s a wizard at the faceoff dot and in his own zone, regularly making life difficult for opposing forwards, as his minutes typically come against the top competition.
Toews started 55 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone in 2013. He’s brilliant at the dot, with a 60 percent success rate in draws, which trailed only Bergeron this season. His number of takeaways, at 56, were tied for the league’s best (with Datsyuk). His plus-28 rating was the best in the Western Conference, and third best in the league. His plus-21 rating on the road was the best in the league. Those that don’t like plus/minus as a true measurement of a player can also look at the fact that his Corsi was plus-15 a game this year.
Without Toews in the mix, it would have been very difficult for the Hawks to finish with the type of defensive season that they did. They were the best in the league in keeping the puck out of their net, allowing only 2.02 goals per game. He’s a key piece on the penalty kill for the Hawks, averaging 1:25 of ice time (third among forwards) on one of the league’s best penalty kills.
Combine Toews’ defensive skill set with what he brings to the offensive end (48 points in 47 games in 2013) and there’s no mystery as to why Jonathan Toews is one of the best players in the National Hockey League. He’s an all around star and absolutely deserved to take home the 2013 Selke Trophy.