Nice guy, that Pavel Datsyuk.
That was the general consensus from the latest installment of Sports Illustrated’s NHL Player Poll, which asked who the league’s nicest player is.
Nine percent of the 179 votes cast picked Datsyuk, a four-time winner of the Lady Byng Award, given annually to the NHL’s most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player.
The 33-year-old Russian narrowly edged out a pair of Phoenix Coyotes for top spot. The first is forward Ray Whitney (seven percent) who, at 39, is the NHL’s seventh-oldest player — interesting, because not a single player under the age of 30 made the top 10 nicest players.
Whitney’s teammate, Phoenix captain Shane Doan, also received seven percent of the votes — no real surprise, given that Doan’s peers tend to speak about him like they’re his job reference. Here’s Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin talking about Doan on the NHLPA website:
“The one thing that has really struck me about Shane is his ability to listen to everyone, to treat everyone with the same respect and to make every single player feel comfortable and confident. I’ve played against Shane enough to know just how talented he is as a player. He impresses you even more, though, as a person and as a captain.
“Shane is what every leader should be. He is the ultimate professional on the ice and in the community. I give his parents a lot of credit for that, too. He is a tireless worker and only wants what is best for the team. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Rounding out the nice guy list: Detroit captain Niklas Lidstrom (six percent), Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis (five percent) and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne (five percent). SI also notes that Carolina’s Brian Boucher was the only goalie in the top 10 and — make of this what you will — the only American in the top 10 as well.