7 Current Stars That Young NHL Players Should Emulate
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There are ways to play hockey the right way.
It is not just about loading up on goals, assists or building solid plus/minus totals. To become a true star of the game, you have to conduct yourself in an admirable manner both on and off the ice.
That means that you must play the game honestly and fairly—with no diving, faking or embellishment.
Young players who are moving up in the game have to do their job on the ice. But if they are going to become solid NHL citizens who represent the game, their team and themselves well, they should take note of the following stars who have been committed to doing the right things on and off the ice.
Some of the factors that we have considered include on-ice performance, sportsmanship, media availability, fan friendliness and overall impact.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews is Captain Serious for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Toews is a young player at 24, but he carries himself like a grizzled veteran. He wants to do anything he can to help the Blackhawks win games.
He excels as a skater, puck carrier, passer and shooter. Moreover, Toews is at his best when the Hawks need a big play at the end of the game.
Whether it is a faceoff win, a sharp pass or a goal, Toews has all the skills necessary to do the job.
He carries himself in a humble manner off the ice, and he comes across as a professional 365 days a year.
Toews is a two-time All-Star, and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL's playoff MVP when Chicago won the 2010 Stanley Cup.
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
Jarome Iginla has been one of the most consistent performers in the NHL since his rookie season in 1996-97.
Iginla has been the symbol of the Calgary Flames for the majority of his career. He has always had the ability to put the puck in the net, and he has played with a team-first attitude throughout his career.
Iginla has scored 30 or more goals in his last 11 seasons, and he has scored 50 or more goals twice. The Canadian is a six-time NHL All-Star and has won five major honors from the NHL.
Iginla also made the pass that set up Sidney Crosby's gold-medal winning overtime goal in the 2010 Olympics.
Iginla has a calm demeanor in the locker room and goes above and beyond when it comes to cooperating with the media and the fans.
He is a winning player and a winning personality.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos, 23, is already in his sixth NHL season.
He is perhaps the best goal scorer in the NHL. Stamkos has all the shots and moves when it comes to goal scoring, including a brilliant wrist shot, a devastating slap shot and a wicked backhander. He can also deflect shots and jump on rebounds.
Stamkos scored 60 goals last year and has topped the 50-goal mark twice in his career.
Stamkos is a lot more than just a one-dimensional goal scorer, however.
He is a consummate team player who will pay the price to help his team win. This was never more obvious than in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals when he took a slap shot to the shield of his face mask that left him a bloody mess. After retiring to the locker room for repairs, he was back on the ice.
Stamkos also keeps himself in remarkable condition and is quite media friendly.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron is perhaps the best faceoff man in the NHL.
Any time the Bruins need to secure possession of the puck in a crucial situation, head coach Claude Julien calls on Bergeron to win the puck for the Bruins.
He is as complete a player as the Bruins have. He is a brilliant defensive forward, a magnificent puck carrier and a sharp passer who can also put the puck in the net.
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Bergeron scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 and also added another goal in that game.
Bergeron's game-winner against the Canucks made him the first Bruin to score a Stanley Cup-winning goal since Bobby Orr. That's pretty good company to keep.
Bergeron's career nearly came to an end in 2007-08 when he was checked head first into the boards and suffered a brutal concussion.
Since Bergeron regained his health, he has been a team leader who plays exceptional hockey on both ends of the ice.
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Martin St. Louis was a great college hockey player at the University of Vermont in the mid-to- late 1990s.
But at 5'8" and 175 pounds, he did not attract a lot of NHL attention. He seemed too small and unlikely to become an impact player.
St. Louis signed a free-agent contract with the Calgary Flames before moving on to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored four goals in parts of two years with the Flames, but the Lightning saw enough to bring him aboard in 2000-01.
Even though St. Louis was once written off by the majority of the league, he has gone on to score 326 goals and tally 543 assists in his career.
He led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup, scoring a goal in double overtime of Game 6 that allowed the Lightning to push the series to seven games, where they eventually beat the Flames.
St. Louis plays with as much effort as any player, and he may be the poster child for overcoming expectations and giving 100 percent effort at all times.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk is one of the most skilled players in the league.
He has the ability to take over any game for the Detroit Red Wings with his skating skill, puck handling and defensive talents.
Datsyuk has scored 245 goals in his career, but he is a remarkably unselfish player. He can draw the defense to him with his deft stick-handling and then make the perfect pass to his teammates.
He is also one of the game's best defensive players. He has won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward three times.
While English is not his native language, Datsyuk makes the effort to communicate with his teammates, coaches and the media on a regular basis.
As talented as he is, his success is the result of constant effort and practice.
He is one of the most admirable players in the NHL.
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
Some critics might say that Zach Parise does not belong on this list after signing a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild during the last offseason.
However, Parise merely took advantage of the marketplace and put his signature on a deal that was offered to him based on his effort and productivity during his seven seasons in New Jersey.
Parise has a tremendous motor and will hustle for 60 minutes to help his team win. He is a skilled offensive player who has scored 30 or more goals five times in his career.
He will dive and sell-out to make defensive plays that help his team win.
He was the best player on the U.S. Olympic hockey team in Vancouver in 2010.
He is also a first-rate representative for the NHL who cooperates with the press and is outgoing with the fans.