The Selke was first presented in 1978 and is awarded each year to the National Hockey League’s best defensive forward. Its namesake, Frank J. Selke, is a Hockey Hall of Famer as a “Builder”, and spent over sixty years of his life concerned with hockey, most notably in the administration of very successful Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens teams.
The award is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Voting members rank their top five picks for best defensive forward, and totals are tallied as follows: first place votes get 10 points; second place votes, 7 points; third place, 5; fourth, 3; and fifth place votes, 1 point. The player with the most points receives the award.
Usually the Selke winner will have achieved a good plus/minus rating, have scored a fair number of shorthanded goals, and have played successfully against his opponents’ best offensive players. Blocking shots, winning faceoffs if he’s a center, and causing turnovers helps too.
An unofficial story about the origins of this award is that back in the 70s when it was common for the NHL to have tournaments of varying seriousness against teams from the Soviet Union, the NHL was embarrassed because the Soviets named Bob Gainey as the West’s best player, because of his fine defensive play. He was picked in spite of the glut of more sensational offense-minded stars, like Guy Lafleur or Bobby Clarke or Bryan Trottier. The NHL had no way to recognize the achievement of these defensive specialists. As a result, Bob Gainey won the award the first four years, and went on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame when his playing career was over.
Below is a list of previous winners of the trophy. It’s interesting to see how perhaps a bit of mentoring went on -- Guy Carbonneau was a young teammate of Gainey’s, and Jere Lehtinen was a young teammate of Carbonneau’s. Also neat is how sometimes the award is given to older players who played predominantly offensive roles early in their careers, but who over time have become more complete hockey players, like Steve Yzerman and Bobby Clarke.
1978 - Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
1979 - Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
1980 - Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
1981 - Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
1982 - Steve Kasper, Boston Bruins
1983 - Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers
1984 - Doug Jarvis, Washington Capitals
1985 - Craig Ramsay, Buffalo Sabres
1986 - Troy Murray, Chicago Blackhawks
1987 - Dave Poulin, Philadelphia Flyers
1988 - Guy Carbonneau, Montreal Canadiens
1989 - Guy Carbonneau, Montreal Canadiens
1990 - Rick Meagher, St. Louis Blues
1991 - Dirk Graham, Chicago Blackhawks
1992 - Guy Carbonneau, Montreal Canadiens
1993 - Doug Gilmour, Toronto Maple Leafs
1994 - Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings
1995 - Ron Francis, Pittsburgh Penguins
1996 - Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings
1997 - Michael Peca, Buffalo Sabres
1998 - Jere Lehtinen, Dallas Stars
1999 - Jere Lehtinen, Dallas Stars
2000 - Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings
2001 - John Madden, New Jersey Devils
2002 - Michael Peca, New York Islanders
2003 - Jere Lehtinen, Dallas Stars
2004 - Kris Draper, Detroit Red Wings
2005 - No winner
2006 - Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes
2007 - Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes
2008 - Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
2009 - Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
2010 - Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
2011 - Ryan Kessler, Vancouver Canucks
2012 - Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2013 - Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
2014 - Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2015 - Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2016 - Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
National Hockey League. “Frank J. Selke Trophy.“ NHL.com. http://nhl.com/hockeyu/history/trophies/selke.html. November 13, 2002.
Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner for the “unofficial story.” I believe him.
Bernie O’Donohue. “Frank Selke.” Generations Can Connect, Bessborough Drive Public School. http://generations-canconnect.ic.gc.ca/english/websites/profile.asp?ProjectID=246&Profile=5794. November 13, 2002.
Alain Sorel. “Frank Selke, rue.” Pointe-Ste-Charles et son histoire. http://pages.infinit.net/stcharle/frankselke.htm. November 13, 2002.