It was first awarded at the conclusion of the 1977-78 season when Montreal Canadiens' left-winger Bob Gainey became the first recipient - and winning it again the following three years. Since then, the Frank J. Selke Trophy has been awarded to 23 different players. But like the Williams M. Jennings Trophy, the Selke has never been awarded to a member of the Los Angeles Kings. That could change this season as it may be just about time for Frank Selke to meet Anze Kopitar.
Their players may not receive a plethora of attention in any scoring race but those of the Los Angeles Kings surely make up for it in other areas just as important as putting the puck in the net. Anze Kopitar's defensive prowess has been gaining much notoriety recently, and it could result in some hardware at season's end.
Since entering the league in 2006-07, Anze Kopitar has been the cornerstone of the Kings franchise. When speaking of potential trades, GM Dean Lombardi had always refused to include the Slovenian no matter how badly other teams wanted his services. Kopitar, simply, is that valuable to the Los Angeles Kings family.
While he has been known to score goals and add assists at a regular pace, there is more to No. 11's game that makes him a very well-rounded player.
He may not receive the same type of attention players on or near the east coast receive like Boston's Patrice Bergeron, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk or even the defending Selke winner, Chicago's Jonathan Toews, but a trend is setting where even this player on the west coast is turning heads.
Overall this season, Kopitar is second in player possession with a rating of 60.9%. Only the aforementioned Bergeron has a better rating at 61.2. Even when Kopitar is on the ice, it's an automatic asset as the 26-year-old leads the way for his team with a +29, good enough for 10th-overall. Some, including former King Jeremy Roenick, have made no secret thinking so little of the plus/minus category but nevertheless, it is a category to be taken very seriously. After all, the record for the best plus/minus in a season is +124 set back in 1970-71 by Bobby Orr, who just happens to be one of the greatest players of all-time.
As for Kopitar, he has been able to show off his defensive muscle without blocking a ton of shots - his total of 44 this season is good for ninth on the team - and even his 6'3, 225-pound frame isn't felt by much of the opposition as his 88 hits, while still a decent number, ranks him 14th on his team in said category.
Some have suggested that Boston's Patrice Bergeron, who won the Selke two years ago, is the front-runner for this year's award. That may be true but that shouldn't dissuade voters (Professional Hockey Writers' Association) from giving Kopitar the credit he deserves. It may not necessarily mean the trophy itself at season's end but maybe, just maybe, this is the opportunity needed for the PHWA - and the rest of the league - to discover what Kings fans have been celebrating for the last eight seasons.
It may not be the end of the world if Anze Kopitar doesn't win the Selke Trophy but it sure would be gratifying to see one of the Los Angeles Kings' most important players to receive some extra critical attention, even if it just for one night on a stage in front of his peers.