The annual NHLPA Player Poll has been released and there are very few surprises from the results. Over 500 players took part in the 20-question poll answering questions ranging from best forward to best shot to biggest trash talker to best mascot to best hair. The poll was conducted during the Players’ Association’s annual team meetings, which took place between late September 2018 and early January 2019.
You won’t be shocked to read that the players are big fans of both Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. The Edmonton Oilers captain was voted “Best Forward” (63.6 percent), “Most Difficult to Play Against” (30.9 percent), and “Player You Would Select to Start a Franchise With” (60 percent). The Pittsburgh Penguins captain was the runner up in all three of those categories.
Reigning Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman was named “Best Defenseman” (31.7 percent) and Carey Price was given the title of “Best Goalie” (29.9 percent).
In some off-beat categories, Brad Marchand was a double winner. The Boston Bruins pest was voted “Biggest Trash Talker” (21.3 percent) and “Worst Trash Talker” (12.5 percent) by his peers.
Marchand was honored by his victories:
Gritty, as you’d expect, was voted “Best Mascot” (69.4 percent), Hilary Knight (27.6 percent) topped Marie-Philip Poulin (24.1 percent) as the “Best Current Female Player,” and Erik Karlsson (18.4 percent) was given the honor of “Best Hair,” beating out long-time champion Henrik Lundqvist (6.6 percent).
Check out the NHLPA site to see who the players believe is most underrated, who would make the best general manager after retirement, the funniest player, NHL arena with the best ice, and more.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.
Seeing the results from a players poll on what they think about other players and points of contention around the league is fascinating. The NHLPA along with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada released the results of their annual poll today and if you think fans around the league love Pavel Datsyuk, the players have you beat by a long stretch.
The NHLPA and Hockey Night in Canada polled 250 players and found that Datsyuk was the top answer in six categories. Datsyuk was voted the smartest player, most difficult to play against, the hardest to take the puck away from, the player goalies found most difficult to stop from scoring, the toughest forward to play against, and the cleanest player to play against by the players.
Phew. That’s a lot of superlatives but it would be pretty hard to argue with the players on this one.
The Boston Bruins were well represented in the poll thanks to Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic. Chara was obviously voted as having the hardest shot and being the toughest defender in the league. Lucic was voted the toughest player in the league while Bergeron was voted most underrated.
Other curious results:
- Henrik Lundqvist ranking out as the toughest goalie to score against.
- Marian Gaborik rating as both the fastest and best skater in the league.
- Dan Bylsma as the coach most guys would love to play for while John Tortorella is the most demanding.
- The Vancouver Canucks being voted the most overrated team. Hey, who let all the Bruins vote for this?
- St. Louis being named as the most underrated team.
- Paul Devorski was voted as the best referee.
- Best ice? Edmonton. Worst ice? Florida.
As for whether the league should get rid of the instigator penalty, 53-percent of the respondents said they would rather the rule stay how it is. That’s a drop of 13-percent from last year’s poll that saw two-thirds of the players say they wanted it to stick around. That’s a sizable shift of opinion and makes you wonder if the players are of the same mind as Leafs GM Brian Burke and are sick of seeing the “rats” take over the game.