Feb 222012

By Chris Block

Jonathan Toews, Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks organization scored high in this year’s NHLPA Player Poll.

318 players submitted answers to the annual questionnaire, written by the staff of Hockey Night in Canada and the National Hockey League Player’s Association.

Joel Quenneville, who some Blackhawks fans were screaming to have fired as little as eight days ago, saw his league-wide player approval rating in the “Coach players would most like to play for” category increase from 6 percent in the 2010-11 player poll to 11% this season.  Quenneville placed second to Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, who again received 21% of votes cast in the category.

In last year’s poll, 11% of players indicated the Chicago Blackhawks as the team they would most-like to play for, putting the Blackhawks in a tie for second with the Vancouver Canucks.  This time around the Blackhawks received the most votes supplanting the Detroit Red Wings who topped the category a year ago.  14% of players responding indicated the Blackhawks were the team they’d most-like to play on.  Detroit slid into second-place with a slight drop at 13% of the votes.  Boston came in 3rd taking 11% of the votes, also the biggest one-year jump of any NHL team.

The United Center made a huge jump, from 7.4% to 17%, as the second-most favorite rink of NHL players.  Bell Centre in Montreal remained the first, although its favorite ranking dropped from 40% to 33%.  It appeared the increase in votes for the United Center took the biggest chunk out of the Canadiens home rink.

Jonathan Toews placed third behind Nicklas Lidstrom and Sidney Crosby as the league’s Best Role Model.

Toews came in second behind Sidney Crosby when players were asked which player they would want to start a franchise with.  Duncan Keith placed high amongst the best skaters and Toews also appeared in the leaders as “smartest player” as well as “most difficult to play against.”

A majority of players still believe the instigator rule should stay in the game, although that majority is slimming.  Yet 98% of players believe fighting belongs in the game.

Categories left off of this year’s questionnaire included “Which coach would you least like to play for?” and “What team would you least-like to play for?” which caused a lot of commotion in Toronto (Ron Wilson) and for fans of the Islanders and Oilers.  Pavel Datsyuk and Toews were big winners in this year’s poll while Alexander Ovechkin has dropped off in many players eyes.

Here are this year’s full results…

SKILLS category

Who has the Hardest Shot?

59% – Zdeno Chara [Boston Bruins]
33% – Shea Weber [Nashville Predators]
02% – Sheldon Souray [Dallas Stars]
01% – Alexander Ovechkin [Washington Capitals]

Last year’s leaders: 1-Chara (44%), 2-Weber (41%), 3-Milan Jurcina (3%), 4-Ales Kotalik (2.5%), T-5-Steven Stamkos, Dustin Byfuglien (2%)

Who is the Best Skater?

33% – Marian Gaborik [New York Rangers]
09% – Sidney Crosby [Pittsburgh Penguins]
06% – Patrick Marleau  [San Jose Sharks]
05% – Duncan Keith [Chicago Blackhawks]
05% – Darren Helm [Detroit Red Wings]
04% – Phil Kessel [Toronto Maple Leafs]

Last year’s results: 1-Gaborik (26%), 2-Crosby (17%), 3-Marleau (9%), 4-Keith (4%)

Who is the Smartest Player?

45% – Pavel Datsyuk
16% – Sidney Crosby
15% – Nicklas Lidstrom
04% – Jonathan Toews
03% – Claude Giroux
02% – Henrik Sedin

-Last year 1-Crosby (29%), 2-Datsyuk (24%), 3-Lidstrom (19%), 4-Henrik Sedin (6%), 5-St. Louis (4%)

Who is the Toughest Player?

20% – Milan Lucic [Boston Bruins]
17% – Zdeno Chara [Boston Bruins]
11% – Shawn Thornton [Boston Bruins]
07% – Brian McGrattan [Nashville Predators]
04% – George Parros [Anaheim Ducks]
04% – Matt Carkner [Ottawa Senators]

Last year: 1-Derek Boogaard (23%), 2-Colton Orr (9%), 3-Matt Carkner (6%), 4-Chara (5%), 5-Lucic (4%)

Who is the Most Difficult Player to Play Against?

26% – Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
19% – Zdeno Chara [Boston Bruins]
09% – Sidney Crosby [Pittsburgh Penguins]
07% – Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
04% – Jonathan Toews [Chicago Blackhawks]
03% – Shea Weber [Nashville Predators]

Last year: 1-Crosby (18%), 2-Chara (17%), 3-Datsyuk (16%), 4-Ovechkin (8%), 5-Pronger (7%)

Which player is the Hardest to Take the Puck From?

47% – Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
10% – Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
09% – Sidney Crosby [Pittsburgh Penguins]
06% – Jaromir Jagr [Philadelphia Flyers]
03% – Joe Thornton [San Jose Sharks]
02% – Rick Nash [Columbus Blue Jackets]

Last year: 1-Datsyuk (36%), 2-Crosby (24%), 3-Thornton (8%), 4-Nash (3%), 5-Zetterberg (3%)

Skaters only vote – Which goalie is Most Difficult to Score On?

38% – Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
19% – Pekka Rinne [Nashville Predators]
16% – Tim Thomas [Boston Bruins]
05% – Carey Price [Montreal Canadiens]
03% – Mikka Kiprusoff [Calgary Flames]
03% – Jimmy Howard [Detroit Red Wings]

Roberto Luongo and Ryan Miller drop off the leaderboard after finishing first and second in last year’s poll at 17 and 16% respectively.

Who is the Fastest Skater?

32% – Marian Gaborik [New York Rangers]
26% – Michael Grabner [New York Islanders]
10% – Darren Helm [Detroit Red Wings]
05% – Erik Cole [Montreal Canadiens]
04% – Phil Kessel [Toronto Maple Leafs]
03% – Patrick Marleau [San Jose Sharks]

Last year: 1-Gaborik (37%), 2-Marleau (11%), 3-Helm (8%), 4-Jason Chimera (6%), 5-Grabner (5%)

Goalies only vote – Which player is Most Difficult to Stop?

24% – Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
12% – Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning]
12% – Sidney Crosby [Pittsburgh Penguins]
12% – Alexander Semin [Washington Capitals]
06% – Nathan Gerbe [Buffalo Sabres]
06% – Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]

-Alex Ovechkin drops off the leader board in this category after being voted the most difficult to stop last year at 27% of goalie’s votes.


Who is the Most Underrated Player?

09% – Patrice Bergeron [Boston Bruins]
06% – Jamie Benn [Dallas Stars]
04% – Loui Eriksson [Dallas Stars]
03% – Claude Giroux [Philadelphia Flyers]
03% – David Krejci [Boston Bruins]
03% – David Backes [St. Louis Blues]

Which current player is the Best Role Model?

23% – Nicklas Lidstrom [Detroit Red Wings]
20% – Sidney Crosby [Pittsburgh Penguins]
10% – Jonathan Toews [Chicago Blackhawks]
09% – Jarome Iginla [Calgary Flames]
07% – Shane Doan [Phoenix Coyotes]
05% – Daniel Alfredsson [Ottawa Senators]

Toews jumps into leaders here. Last year’s results: 1-Crosby (26%), 2-Lidstrom (20%), 3-Iginla (11%), 4-Doan (9%), 5-St. Louis (3%)

Who is the Cleanest Player to Play Against?

21% – Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
13% – Martin St. Louis [Tampa Bay Lightning]
13% – Nicklas Lidstrom [Detroit Red Wings]
05% – Ray Whitney [Phoenix Coyotes]
04% – Henrik Zetterberg [Detroit Red Wings]
04% – Kyle Wellwood [Winnipeg Jets]

Nearly identical to last year’s results: 1-Datsyuk (28%), 2-St. Louis (10%), 3-Lidstrom (8%), 4-Zetterberg (6%), 5-Wellwood (4%)

Which current Player Would You Select to Start a Franchise?

41% – Sidney Crosby
18% – Jonathan Toews
06% – Pavel Datsyuk
05% – Claude Giroux
05% – Steven Stamkos
04% – Evgeni Malkin

-Toews jumps from 3% last year to 18%.  Crosby, undoubtedly in part due to his concussion issues, keeps his 1st place ranking but slides from 69% to 41% of the vote. Last year’s leaders 1-Crosby (69%), 2-Lidstrom (6%), 3-Stamkos (5%), 4-Toews (3%), 5-Ovechkin, Datsyuk (2%)

Who is the Toughest Defenseman to Play Against?

61% – Zdeno Chara [Boston Bruins]
12% – Shea Weber [Nashville Predators]
06% – Nicklas Lidstrom [Detroit Red Wings]
03% – Chris Pronger [Philadelphia Flyers]
03% – Brooks Orpik [Pittsburgh Penguins]
01% – Douglas Murray [San Jose Sharks]

Last year: T-1-Chara, Lidstrom (20.3%), 3-Pronger (20.0%), 4-Weber (7%), 5-Keith (3%)

Who is the Toughest Forward to Play Against?

25% – Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
15% – Milan Lucic [Boston Bruins]
13% – Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
09% – Sidney Crosby [Pittsburgh Penguins]
03% – Alexander Ovechkin [Washington Capitals]
02% – Zach Parise [New Jersey Devils]

Which Team is Overrated?

24% – Vancouver Canucks
18% – Toronto Maple Leafs
15% – Washington Capitals
09% – New York Rangers
04% – Ottawa Senators
04% – Pittsburgh Penguins

Which Team is Underrated?

28% – St Louis Blues
21% – Nashville Predators
11% – Ottawa Senators
11% – Florida Panthers
10% – New York Islanders
05% – Toronto Maple Leafs

Who is the Best Referee?

19% – Paul Devorski [started NHL 1987-88]
15% – Kelly Sutherland [1999-00]
13% – Wes McCauley [2001-02]
09% – Don Van Massenhoven [1992-93]
06% – Stephen Walkom [1990-91]
06% – Kyle Rehman [2007-08]

-Last year this category was led by the option “None” with 15% of players choosing that answer. Devorski placed 5th last year among referees who received votes.  He jumped from 7% to 19% this year.  Sutherland, who got the most votes last year, received a slight bump from 13% to 15%. Wes McCauley jumped from 9% to 13%.  It should be noted Bill McCreary received 10% of the vote in his final year as an official last year, good enough for 2nd in 2010-11, again, removing the dolts who voted “none.”


Which Coach Would You Most Like to Play For?

21% – Dan Bylsma [Pittsburgh Penguins]
11% – Joel Quenneville [Chicago Blackhawks]
08% – Dave Tippett [Phoenix Coyotes]
08% – Mike Babcock [Detroit Red Wings]
07% – John Tortorella [New York Rangers]
04% – Todd McLellan [San Jose Sharks]

Last year: 1-Bylsma (21%), 2-Babcock (18%), 3-Tippett (9%), 4-Guy Boucher (8%), 5-Quenneville (6%)

Which Coach Demands the Most of His Players?

59% – John Tortorella [New York Rangers]
08% – Darryl Sutter [Los Angeles Kings]
08% – Ken Hitchcock [St. Louis Blues]
07% – Mike Babcock [Detroit Red Wings]
03% – Dan Byslma [Pittsburgh Penguins]
02% – Brent Sutter [Calgary Flames]

-Last year Tortorella got 28% of the vote. Babcock had 2nd with 24%.

Which current Assistant Coach Should Be The Next Head Coach?

07% – Brad Shaw [St. Louis Blues]
06% – Dave Cameron [Ottawa Senators]
06% – Doug Houda [Boston Bruins]
05% – Dave Lewis [Carolina Hurricanes]
05% – Craig Ramsey [Florida Panthers]
04% – Tony Granato [Pittsburgh Penguins]

-Kirk Muller led this question last year with 9%.  He began this season in Milwaukee (AHL) before Paul Maurice got canned in Carolina.  Granato drops from six to four percent of votes. Bob Boughner, Adam Oates and the late Brad McCrimmon were also among leaders in last year’s poll.  So far only Muller has gotten an NHL head coaching job.


Which is your Favorite Rink to Play In?

33% – Bell Centre, Montreal
17% – United Center, Chicago
07% – Madison Square Garden, New York Rangers
06% – Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
05% – Air Canada Centre, Toronto
05% – TD Gardens, Boston

Which Rink Has the Best Ice?

47% – Rexall Place, Edmonton
15% – Bell Centre, Montreal
10% – Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
05% – Rogers Arena, Vancouver
05% – MTS Centre, Winnipeg
03% – Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary

-Rexall remains atop this category, as expected, but is up from 37% last year.

Which Rink Has the Worst Ice?

18% – Bank Atlantic Center, Florida Panthers
11% – Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa Bay
11% – Honda Center, Anaheim
08% – Staples Center, Los Angeles
08% – Madison Square Garden, New York Rangers
06% – American Airlines Center, Dallas

Last year: 1-Bank Atlantic (20%), 2-MSG (14%), 3-Times Forum (12%), 4-Honda Center (10%), 5-Staples Center (9%)

Which Team Would You Most Like to Play On?

14% – Chicago Blackhawks
13% – Detroit Red Wings
11% – Boston Bruins
08% – Toronto Maple Leafs
06% – Montreal Canadiens
05% – Tampa Bay Lightning
*7th place tie: NY Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks

Last year: 1-Detroit (14%), 2-Vancouver (11%), T-2-Chicago (11%), 4-NYR (9%), 5-Tampa Bay (6%)

Which Canadian City Deserves an NHL Franchise – Quebec City, Hamilton or 2nd team in Toronto?

74% – Quebec City
18% – 2nd Team in Toronto
06% – Hamilton

Last year Quebec City got 53% of the vote while Winnipeg took 25%.  Keep in mind that vote came in before the Thrashers became publicly connected to Winnipeg.


Should the Instigator Rule Be Abolished?

53% – NO
47% – Yes, Instigator Rule should be abolished

-66% voted “NO” in the 2010-11 poll.

Should Fighting Be Completely Banished?

98% – NO
02% – Yes, Fighting should be banned

-Same exact results as last year

Click here to view full results of the 2010-11 NHLPA Player’s Poll


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  6 Responses to “Toews, Quenneville and Blackhawks place high in 2011-12 NHLPA Player’s Opinion Poll”

  1. Scott not on the tough guy list – good that should motivate him.

    Stals is making headway on getting on the fastest skater

    Looks like of toughest d-men they just picked out, for the most part tough guys. One on one, it’s harder to get by duncan Keith than any d-man in the league

    I’d definitely include Hossa somewhere in the most difficult to take the puck away from

    The thing that infuriates me the most is Kaners omission from the Role Model category

  2. Off topic for Chris, Brad or anyone –

    With Hutton under contract now, where do you see him fitting in for next year?
    Looks like he had a solid run when Salak was out injured and Emery’s contract is up at the end of the season. Is he that much ahead of Richards? Could you say overall, right now, he is a better goalie than Salak?

    • Well, we’ll find out at 11am Friday if Hutton clears waivers, which shouldn’t be an issue. Then we have to see the length of Hutton’s deal. He’s a very popular guy in Rockford and gave them some hope this season with some spectacular goaltending in January. He runs hot and cold though. I thought all along he’d be signed as backup insurance in case the team wasn’t convinced Salak was the guy or that he could stay healthy. I don’t think he’s a candidate to backup in Chicago. This contract has probably just as much to do with rewarding a job well done (Hutton will get a hefty raise, comparatively, for the remainder of the season from his AHL deal) as it does throwing him into the fray of possibilities for next year.

      Richards recently got off to a great start in Toledo after accepting a demotion but I think there are questions if he can mentally handle the workload of a number one goaltender. His confidence was clearly shot this season and that was an issue. Mac Carruth and Kent Simpson both turn 20 next month and can turn pro, so you have to figure them into the picture as well. Richards has another year on this contract and will be one of the IceHogs top paid players should he stick around. I don’t see the Blackhawks wanting to pay an ECHL goalie 100k if thats where he winds up.

  3. can Block or someone explain to me how everyone thinks the Bruins are this “tough” team. Yes they compile a number of fighting majors, but they have been on the bottom end in team hits (currently 24th behind Detroit), blocked shots (currently 22nd) and have been for the last few years. Shawn Thornton fights, yes, he along with Horton also have fewer blocked shots than Patrick Kane. So they have one player in the top 50 in hits in the league with Lucic at #44 (still behind the likes of Luca Sbisa). Outside of Seidenberg they don’t really block shots (Chara has 20 fewer blocked shots than D.Keith), they don’t take the puck away (3rd from the bottom), their want on board battles doesn’t seem to be stellar, but I guess if you cheapshot a few guys a year and rack up a bunch of fighting majors when Chara is taking runs at dudes 8 inches and 50 LBs lighter than he is, or Lucic is running goalies, you’re a tough club. I would have expected a casual or meatball hockey fan to associate hockey toughness solely on fighting, but man, either the players themselves are blissfully unaware, or plain stupid, or maybe I’m just an idiot for associating hockey toughness with stats that actually matter to wining games

    • Valid points. I was surprised by the amount of votes, not necessarily the order. Thornton is a guy who is well respected by many as the best player in his role. I’m guessing with Chara and Lucic, perhaps its a fear of being run over by those guys as much as anything. Lucic and Chara are two of the physically biggest guys who play on the edge. I’m not disagreeing with you at all, just trying to make sense of it.

      • understood. Maybe it’s the likes of Pierre Maguire who constantly harp on about how “tough” and “all kinds of nasty” they are….but for some reason, I’m starting to hate the Bruins nearly as much as Vancouver. I’d also much rather have a guy like Travis Moen than Thornton.

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