Also good: this guy

Earlier this season I wrote a couple posts that looked at the results of Sports Illustrated’s player poll, which is always fun to do. The thing is, SI releases their results slowly, one at a time, and it’s relatively maddening. Fortunately, HNIC and the NHLPA dropped all these on us at once.

Some things to note about the results:

* Tim Wharnsby of CBC Sports says that the poll results below cover a good deal more players than Sports Illustrated’s did. They got over 1/3rd of NHL players to respond, some 257 guys in all (SI’s was 179 I believe).

* Over 2/3rds of teams had players respond.

* Some teams don’t let their players take the poll – for example, Colorado never lets their guys participate (which this blogger thinks is ridiculous. It’s anonymous. What’s the harm?). Wharnsby also suspected that the Leafs and Canucks didn’t allow their players to respond.

* The process for taking the poll is that HNIC creates the questions, then submits them to the NHLPA, who in turn distribute and collect the results.

So after noting all that, let’s take a look at the more interesting results. If you want to see every answer ever, you can check out CBC’s Player Poll website here.

Marian Gaborik was voted the League’s best skater (33% of the vote)

That’s “best,” not “fastest.” His ability to change direction, acclerate quickly and, of course, straight out fly earned him this spot over Sidney Crosby (9%), Patrick Marleau (really? 6%), Duncan Keith (5%), Darren Helm (4%) and Phil Kessel (3%).

Marian Gaborik was also voted the League’s fastest skater (32%)

Yeah that makes some sense.

Runners-up: Grabner (26%), Helm (10%), Cole (5%), Kessel (4%), Marleau (3%).

Pavel Datsyuk was voted the League’s smartest player (45%), the most difficult to play (26%), the hardest to take the puck from (47%), the toughest guy to make a save on (goalies only, 24%), the cleanest to play against (21%) and the toughest to defend (25%)

Wrap your head around that – he gets the nod for being both the toughest to play against, and the nod for being the cleanest player. There is no greater praise than that.

I’ve been meaning to write about the universal love and respect Pavel Datsyuk gets in hockey for awhile now. In sports in general, it’s rare that everyone, everywhere can like the same guy. Yet somehow, we’re all on the same page about Datsyuk. And because of that fact, I think he’s going to go down in the history books as one of hockey’s greatest players ever, even if it’s not statistically obvious. There’s nary a bad word written about him in a book, on a blog, on a napkin. He’s a special player, and it’s great to see his peers recognize that too.

20% of NHL players think that Milan Lucic is the toughest player in the NHL

Just how valuable is a 30 goal scorer who’s also seen as the toughest player in the League? I’m gonna say “quite.”

I’m not sure who would drool over this guy more, Brian Burke or the entire city of Boston – he’s a perfect fit for either. He narrowly edged out his teammate Zdeno Chara (17%), as well as teammate number two Shawn Thornton (11%), and Brian McGratton (7%), George Parros (4%) and Matt Carkner (4%).

Henrik Lundqvist is the toughest goalie to score on in the NHL (38%)

This year’s Vezina favourite and Hart contender is finally seeing the team in front of him play as well as he has. I feel like he’s been this good for years. Other names getting the nod were Pekka Rinne (19%), Tim Thomas (16%), Carey Price (5%), Mikka Kiprusoff (3%) and Jimmy Howard (3%)

Nick Lidstrom was voted the best role model

And the 77% of people who didn’t vote for him were wrong.

Nearly a quarter of the League thinks the Vancouver Canucks are overrated (24%)

Though the Canucks not voting can’t help their appearance in a poll like this.  Other mentions were Toronto (18%), Washington (15%), New York Rangers (9%), Ottawa (4%), and Pittsburgh (4%).

So, y’know, the teams that get the most airtime that other teams are jealous of.

More players would like to play for Dan Bylsma than any other coach (21%)

That’s pretty fair I’d say. I think HBO’s 24/7 helps when it comes to questions like this, because we really did get to see that he operates in a very professorial manner and has a calm demeanor. He gives you a chance to win without making life tense everyday. Honorable mentions went to Joel Quenneville (11%), Dave Tippett (8%), Mike Babcock (8%), John Tortorella (7%) and Todd McLellan (4%)

A third of players think the Bell Centre is the best building to play in

This has been the consensus pick for some time now. Apparently the players also like the United Center in Chi-town (17%), Madison Square Garden despite its notoriously poor ice (7%), Joe Louis in Detroit (6%), the ACC because they love to play for businessmen on BlackBerries (5%), and TD Garden in Boston (5%).

Almost half the league thinks Edmonton has the best ice around (47%)

It’s almost like there’s some connection between cold weather and good ice? Our college rink in Alaska was the most incredible thing you’ve ever touched skates to. It’s no wonder the other cities with good ice were Montreal (15%), Detroit (10%), Vancouver (5%), Winnipeg (5%) and Calgary (3%), and not the cities on the worst list, which basically reads: Florida and California.

If players could choose to play anywhere, most would choose an original six team…or Tampa.

Chicago topped the list with 14% of the vote, followed by Detroit (13%), Boston (11%), Toronto (8%), Montreal (6%), and Tampa (5%).

The Detroit pick surprises me a little these days (given the tough times the city has gone through), but I guess that just highlights how important winning is to guys.

And last….

Hey guys, wanna ban fighting?

No: 98%

Yes: 2%