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.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.