RETRO SELKE

This is the sixth and fi­nal in our series re­vis­it­ing the years in which the NHL’s of­fi­cial in­di­vid­ual tro­phies weren’t awarded or had dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria.

The Hockey News - - CONTENTS - BY JAMES BENESH

Who were NHL’s best de­fen­sive for­wards be­fore 1978?

1918:

LOUIS BERLINGUETTE, LW, MON­TREAL In very small league, the only reg­u­lar for­ward known for de­fen­sive abil­i­ties.

1919:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

In the 1919 play­offs, with Nighbor out of the lineup, the Habs scored 19 times in three games. When he re­turned, they scored seven goals in two games.

1920:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

“There is no player in pro­fes­sional hockey who stood higher in the es­ti­ma­tion of the ex­perts and fans for gen­eral all-around abil­ity.” – hockey his­to­rian Charles Cole­man

1921:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

The Ottawa Cit­i­zen in 1946: “There were a lot of peo­ple who wor­shipped at the (Howie) Morenz shrine, but there were just as many who gave that high­est award to (Nighbor).”

1922:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

“It was noth­ing to see his own de­fense­men rest­ing on their sticks and his goaler sti­fling a yawn as (Nighbor) mas­sa­cred eight out of 10 plays that came through his cen­ter slot.” – sports­writer Red MacKen­zie

1923:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

The Mon­treal Gazette: “Nighbor camped him­self just back of his own blue­line and worked his hook-check so ef­fec­tively that the Eski­mos were turned back time and again.”

1924:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

“In­stead of pok­ing the puck off some­one’s stick, he had a knack of trap­ping the puck with a hook-check and bring­ing it back to his own stick as if the puck were on a string.” – King Clancy

1925:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

“Skat­ing back­ward and wav­ing his stick in wan­d­like fash­ion, prepara­tory for use in his dev­as­tat­ing pokecheck, was also a mar­vel of co-or­di­na­tion.” – Charles Cole­man

1926:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

The Mon­treal Gazette: “His pokecheck was break­ing up the lo­cals’ drive. He stood out like a traf­fic cop, di­rect­ing the op­pos­ing play­ers down the wing lanes, where they were promptly cov­ered.”

1927:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

The Boston Globe: “Prob­a­bly the most ef­fec­tive man in for­ward-line play. His pokecheck, ei­ther a jab or a sweep, has ru­ined more com­bi­na­tion plays than that of any other player.”

1928:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA gre“aItew­sot npltahyee(rHi­narhto),cbkeuyt.”N–ighH­boowr iies the Morenz when ac­cept­ing Hart Tro­phy

1929:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

The Ottawa Cit­i­zen: “So far ahead of all play­ers in de­fen­sive abil­ity, and in out­guess­ing the op­po­si­tion, there is only one Old Mas­ter, and as­pir­ing play­ers have a star to aim at.”

1930:

FRANK NIGHBOR, C, OTTAWA

“Frank Nighbor is the great­est de­fen­sive hockey player I have ever seen.” – Hall of Fame builder Tommy Gor­man

1931:

FRANK FINNIGAN, RW, OTTAWA Heav­ily re­searched 1999 pub­li­ca­tion Ultimate Hockey called him the best de­fen­sive for­ward of the 1930s.

1932:

HOOLEY SMITH, C, MON­TREAL MAROONS

Learned from the best – Nighbor – and took over as the NHL’s king of the pokecheck.

1933:

BALDY NORTHCOTT, LW, MON­TREAL MAROONS

Al­ways known as a strong de­fender. His third-place fin­ish in scor­ing race would have earned him awards buzz.

1934:

LARRY AURIE, RW, DETROIT Killed a lot of penal­ties, help­ing Detroit to an ex­cel­lent de­fen­sive record.

1935:

MUR­RAY MURDOCH, LW, NY RANGERS

Iron­man formed ex­cel­lent penal­tykilling tan­dem with Ce­cil Dil­lon, com­bin­ing for 10 short­handed points.

1936:

HOOLEY SMITH, C, MON­TREAL MAROONS

A Hart run­ner-up this sea­son be­cause his all-around game was miles ahead of the league’s other top scor­ers.

1937:

BALDY NORTHCOTT, LW, MON­TREAL MAROONS Con­tin­ued his fine de­fen­sive work, in­clud­ing a great deal of penalty killing.

1938:

NERESIL COLVILLE, C, NY RANGERS

Voted third-most valu­able for­ward de­spite rank­ing ninth in points. He’d later be made an ac­tual de­fense­man.

1939:

NICK METZ, LW, TORONTO Emer­gence as top de­fen­sive for­ward helped Leafs cut goals against by 20.

1940:

NEIL COLVILLE, C, NY RANGERS

Man­aged to hang around the scor­ing lead­ers for a few sea­sons and was the best-rounded of the bunch.

1941:

NICK METZ, LW, TORONTO off eA nds­deetd os ho is­mael rae ta tdeyn te ioxcn e-lg leentt tin g de­fen­sive play this sea­son.

1942:

MURPH CHAMBERLAIN, LW, MON­TREAL/BROOKLYN

Four sea­sons pre­vi­ous, he was called best de­fen­sive rookie in the league. Now more ma­ture, he earns his only Selke.

1943:

BUZZ BOLL, LW, BOSTON

After nine sea­sons of very good de­fen­sive work, the WW2-weak­ened NHL and some strong of­fen­sive num­bers would get Boll some at­ten­tion.

1944:

RAY GETLIFFE, LW, MON­TREAL

With of­fense sky­rock­et­ing dur­ing the war, de­fense was at a pre­mium, and Getliffe was the for­ward who best helped the Habs dom­i­nate the league at both ends.

1945:

NICK METZ, LW, TORONTO

After miss­ing two years serv­ing in WW2, Metz went right back to be­ing the NHL’s best de­fen­sive for­ward.

1946:

WOODY DUMART, LW, BOSTON

Had a fine re­turn from WW2, lead­ing ‘Kraut Line’ in scor­ing while con­tin­u­ing to be its de­fen­sive con­science.

1947:

JIMMY PETERS, RW, MON­TREAL

Leader of check­ing line matched against op­po­si­tion’s best, helped Canadiens to dom­i­nant de­fen­sive record.

1948:

JOE KLUKAY, LW, TORONTO

Took over for the ag­ing Metz as the Leafs’ top de­fen­sive for­ward. Led team to league’s low­est GAA.

1949:

KEN MOSDELL, C, MON­TREAL

Habs didn’t score a lot, but they got scored on even less thanks to Mosdell’s work on the check­ing line.

1950:

MARTY PAVELICH, LW, DETROIT New kid on block pro­vided the Wings with the elite de­fen­sive play.

1951:

JOE KLUKAY, LW, TORONTO The Leafs’ top checker helped them to the best de­fen­sive record and Cup.

1952:

MARTY PAVELICH, LW, DETROIT

Helped the Wings to league’s best de­fen­sive record since 1940 and shut down Mau­rice Richard as they swept to the Cup in eight straight.

1953:

FLOYD CURRY, RW, MON­TREAL Most valu­able checker and penalty killer on the pre-dy­nasty Habs.

1954:

FLOYD CURRY, RW, MON­TREAL

The Mon­treal Gazette: “(Coach Dick) Irvin be­lieves he has dis­cov­ered the right pair of penalty killers in Curry and (Paul) Meger. They killed off 31 (straight) penal­ties with­out be­ing scored on.”

1955:

MARTY PAVELICH, LW, DETROIT

Top-notch de­fense at even strength, solid penalty killing and de­cent of­fense en route to fourth Cup.

1956:

CLAUDE PROVOST, LW, MON­TREAL

Only a rookie and play­ing his off-wing. Still, he im­me­di­ately be­came Habs’ most trusted checker.

1957:

CLAUDE PROVOST, RW, MON­TREAL

A year older and on his proper wing. The Habs were stacked of­fen­sively, on the blue­line and in net but also with check­ers.

1958:

RED SULLIVAN, C, NY RANGERS

A news­pa­per ar­ti­cle from March 1958 cites him as the win­ner of a vote by NHL coaches as best de­fen­sive for­ward and best hus­tler/hard­est worker.

1959:

CLAUDE PROVOST, RW, MON­TREAL

Habs’ 1950s dy­nasty was at the height of its power with 43 fewer goals against than next-best team. Provost was their best checker.

1960:

BOB PULFORD, LW, TORONTO

Con­sum­mate pro led NHL in short­handed points with eight. The next-high­est player had three.

1961:

DON MARSHALL, LW, MON­TREAL

Through­out the early 1960s, he was the one for­ward you could count on to post strong even-strength and short­handed re­sults ev­ery year.

1962:

GE­ORGE ARMSTRONG, RW, TORONTO

His out­stand­ing plus-48 rat­ing was not due to of­fen­sive out­put. Rather, he was on the ice for only 29 even-strength goals against all sea­son.

1963:

DON MARSHALL, LW, MON­TREAL

The Habs’ most fre­quent PK combo in­cluded three D-men and Marshall. He played the most short­handed while post­ing a plus-18 at even strength. 1964: DAVE KEON, C, TORONTO

Played out­stand­ing, clean, two-way hockey and killed a lot of penal­ties, lead­ing to strong team de­fen­sive num­bers.

1965:

DAVE KEON, C, TORONTO

Leafs had fewest goals against in the league de­spite most power-play goals against. The main rea­son was Keon, whose speed and clean ap­proach to check­ing helped Leafs limit op­po­nents to just 105 even-strength goals.

1966:

BOB PULFORD, LW, TORONTO

Long known as an ex­cep­tional shut­down player. This sea­son he did out­stand­ing work on the PK and posted a plus-9 de­spite tough as­sign­ments.

1967:

DON MARSHALL, LW, NY RANGERS

Had a great sea­son along with fel­low ‘Old Smooth­ies’ Bob Nevin and Phil Goyette. Top PK for­ward for strong team, plus-12 rat­ing. O-Pee-Chee: “Rarely makes a mis­take.”

1968:

AN­DRE BOUDRIAS, C, MIN­NESOTA Had an im­mense im­pact at even strength and killed al­most ev­ery minute of ev­ery penalty. The Hockey News: “What he lacks in fi­nesse, he makes up by skat­ing his head off.”

1969:

DEREK SANDERSON, C, BOSTON

Teamed with Ed West­fall to form league’s best penalty-killing unit. Also only 21 even-strength goals against when he was on the ice all sea­son. Harry Sin­den: “Un­like other (penalty killers) they refuse to give up posses­sion.”

1970:

STAN MIKITA, C, CHICAGO

De­vel­oped from a scrap­per to a scorer dur­ing the ’60s and into a twoway whiz as the ’70s be­gan. The busiest for­ward on the league’s best PK unit.

1971:

ED WEST­FALL, RW, BOSTON

Boston’s PK went back to be­ing ex­cep­tional, and West­fall was the key for­ward. Sports­writer Zan­der Hol­lan­der: “A fine check­ing for­ward…not a fast skater, but he’s al­ways work­ing.”

1972:

WALT TKACZUK, C, NY RANGERS

An “even-strength spe­cial­ist” who be­gan killing penal­ties reg­u­larly this year while still run­ning the ta­ble 5-on-5. Sports­writer Jim Proud­foot: “Phil Es­pos­ito was blanked in all six games of the Stan­ley Cup fi­nal, and the man mainly re­spon­si­ble was Walt Tkaczuk.”

1973:

BOBBY CLARKE, C, PHILADEL­PHIA

He didn’t just win the Hart Tro­phy for scor­ing 104 points. Flyers’ most heav­ily used for­ward in all sit­u­a­tions. Coach Fred Shero: “He’s more valu­able than Bobby Orr be­cause he can do more things well.”

1974:

CRAIG RAM­SAY, LW, BUFFALO

A three-time run­ner-up of­fi­cially. Num­bers say he was the league’s best penalty killer. NHL coaches agreed in a poll that spring.

1975:

BOBBY CLARKE, C, PHILADEL­PHIA

When Clarke was on the ice, Flyers were un­stop­pable. His line scored 6.5 times for each goal sur­ren­dered at even strength. He fin­ished with just 14 even­strength goals against all year.

1976:

BOBBY CLARKE, C, PHILADEL­PHIA

Hart win­ner. Leader of the sec­ondbest team in the league. Voted by NHL coaches best checker, best on face­offs, best penalty killer, hard­est worker.

1977:

CRAIG RAM­SAY, LW, BUFFALO

Out­stand­ing at even strength (73 goals for, 38 against), key to Sabres’ sec­ond-best penalty kill. Coach Punch Im­lach: “Just about the per­fect hockey player. He can kill penal­ties and nul­lify the other guys’ best right wingers.”

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