2010 NHL Players Poll
As if we don't debate on hockey's touchiest subjects enough on here, ESPN the Magazine just added more fuel to our fire.
Now, instead of the banter between all us "experts," the players have graced us with their take on happenings around the NHL.
ESPN the Magazine polled a select group of 50 NHL players on various topics around the league.
The questions covered all aspects ranging from: "The best player in the league" to, "Which player has the hottest spouse."
Here's what the players had to say....
Last Coach They Would Want to Play For
Mr. Tortorella, the Arthur Fonzarelli look-alike, and head coach of the New York Rangers is coach the players would dread playing for.
Eighteen percent of the polled players said they would not look forward to lacing up the skates for Torts night in and night out.
Who could blame them? It's no secret that Tortorella is one of the sternest coaches in the NHL; just ask Vinny Lecavalier or Ales Kotalik how much fun Tortorella is behind the bench.
The former head coach of the '04 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning and assistant coach of this year's U.S. Olympic team has had anything but a pleasant season in Manhattan this year.
If you polled the fans on who the most frustrating coach to watch was, odds are Torts would take the cake in that one too.
On the Other Side of the Coin...
Twenty-two percent of the players chose Detroit's Mike Babcock as the smartest coach in the NHL.
It would be kind of hard to argue with them, too. During his six NHL seasons as a head coach, Babcock has made three Stanley Cup finals appearance, winning one with Detroit in 2008.
He has missed the playoffs once in his six years behind an NHL bench and has 282 wins in 492 games coached.
Oh yea, he also just added an Olympic gold medal victory to his resume, as he guided Canada passed the United States in Vancouver.
Other coaches that received recognition were Bruce Boudreau of the Caps and Dan Bylsma of Pittsburgh, each snagging 16 percent of the votes.
I guess being in third place of the Western Conference and having the fourth-best record in the NHL doesn't make up for 12 years of faltering.
Since relocating to Phoenix from Winnipeg, the Coyotes have been anything but, well, fruitful.
Tangled in an ownership dispute between the league and several other parties coming into this season, nobody expected the Coyotes to be where they are.
The 'Yotes are clearly one of the best teams in the West right now and have been proving doubters wrong all season.
If they can take that to the next level come playoff time, is another story.
The Coyotes haven't made the playoffs since '02-'03 and haven't won a playoff series since 1987 when they were still the Jets.
It's no wonder why one player was quoted saying "Games feel like practice when we play there," during the poll.
On the other end of the NHL franchise spectrum is the Detroit Red Wings. It's just about impossible to argue with the players here.
The Wings took 60 percent of the player's votes and it's well deserved.
The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs, the NHL's co-leading goal scorer Steven Stamkos wasn't even born yet.
Detroit is consistency at it's finest. Even when they seemed out of it this year after an injury-riddled season, the Joe Louis Arena occupants surged back into the playoff scene, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They now sit in eight place, six points ahead of the Calgary Flames who occupy ninth.
The Penguins came in second place, with 14 percent.
NHL's Toughest Fighter
Who said the NHL dinosaur was extinct!? Derek Boogaard of the Minnesota Wild has been one of the league's most feared fighters since he first "put on the foil" back in 2005.
Since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2001 draft, Boogard has seen his share of knuckles and helmets while suiting up for the Wild.
Boogaard has been a part of 54 regular-season scraps during his 247 NHL games. He's also netted two goals and 12 assists during those years, so he's not all brawn!
All joking aside, Boogaard is clearly one of the most intimidating enforcers in the league and does his job very well. So well, that 47 percent of the players do not want anything to do with him and his 6' 8" 247-pound frame once the gloves are dropped.
You've Been a Dirty Boy!
With all the recent talk on headshots, hitting from behind, and knee-on-knee collisions, this question intrigued me the most.
After all was said and done, Chris Pronger of the Flyers once again took down the crown for the league's dirtiest player.
Pronger's un-Lady Byng-like tactics are no secret around the NHL.
Pronger's weapons of choice, much like Gordie Howe and Mark Messier's, are his elbows. The Flyers' defensemen has been using his elbows to fend off opposing players since his hulking 6'6" body came into the NHL 15 years ago with the Whalers.
Besides elbows, who could forget his infamous leg-stomp of Ryan Kesler that warranted an eight game suspension?
You Might Have a Cup, But I Go Home to This!
Oh Mike Fisher can you please teach us your secret?
When it came to who the players thought had the hottest spouse, it was none other than Ottawa's Mike Fisher, who is engaged to the gorgeous Carrie Underwood.
The 2004 American Idol winner, and former girlfriend of Tony Romo, took 48 percent of the votes.
Mike Modano's wife Willa Ford, took 10 percent while Hillary Duff, who is engaged to Mike Comrie took six percent.
Eh, He's Nothing Special...
DISCLAIMER: Dear loyal fans of the Vancouver Canucks, this is not my opinion, it is the opinion of the polled players. Please do not stone me to my death, chase me with pitchforks and torches, or trap me in a room with an eternal playlist of Lady Gaga.
Luongo didn't gain many votes, but he got the most with six percent feeling he was the most overrated player in the NHL.
The captain of the Canucks is often touted as the best goalie in the NHL, but has yet to win the big game. Some of that changed during this year's Olympics when he took over for Martin Brodeur and backstopped Canada to a gold medal.
Honorable mentions were: Vinny Lecavalier, Dion Phaneuf, Sean Avery, and Jay Bouwmeester.
You Sir, Are No. 1
The Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby debate will never die, but for the players, the answer is simple: Great 8.
The players felt that that Ovechkin was the clear-cut best player in the NHL today. Even though Crosby has a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal under his belt, Ovechkin dominated the polls.
It wasn't even close, actually. Ovie took home 64 percent of the votes, while Crosby came in second, tallying 24 percent.
In my opinion, the players got this one dead on. Ovechkin is simply electric and one of the most prolific goal scorers the NHL has seen since Mario Lemieux in his prime.
Ovechkin has taken the NHL by storm with his play since his rookie season in 2005 when he won the Calder Trophy.
This vote wasn't a surprise since the players have voted Ovechkin the most outstanding player two years in a row, as he's won the Lester B. Pearson award in consecutive years.
He's also won the last two Hart Trophies, the last two Rocket Richard Trophies and was the Art Ross Trophy winner in 2008.
Not a bad resume, huh?
All Ovechkin is missing is a Stanley Cup ring, which he has a great opportunity to get this year as the Capitals hold the best record in the NHL.
Ovechkin is currently tied for the league lead in goals and is one point behind Henrik Sedin for points, which would land him another Rocket Richard and Art Ross Trophy.