Phil Kessel and the Softest Players in the NHL

Joe Favia@joe_faviaCorrespondent IIFebruary 8, 2011

Phil Kessel and the Softest Players in the NHL

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    It is often said that hockey players are the toughest athletes in any major professional sport.

    The men who take the ice and risk life and limb every night in the NHL are the best at what they do, but some of these players are not as tough as they may appear. Sure, they cannot be generalized and being considered a "soft player" is not the worst thing in the world (See: Wayne Gretzky). But, it is an argument that hockey fans like to bring up.

    Personally, I feel that all hockey players possess extra fortitude to do what they do so this not my personal opinions of the players, but more about what I have heard others say over the years.

    So if you disagree or want to add to the discussion with a player you feel is not always willing to get in on the action let us know!

10. Joe Thornton

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    When you are one of the best in the game, you are going to have your share of critics. Joe Thornton of the Sharks is no exception.

    Though he has been labeled a competent big-man power forward throughout his career, some feel the 6'4" 235-pound center does not mix it up enough. But in his storied and most likely Hall of Fame career, it will say nothing about how many fights he got in.

9. Roberto Luongo

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    This is a choice for being a "soft" player that should greatly stir the emotions of Canuck fans.

    The former captain of Vancouver and the goalie that was in net for Team Canada when they captured the gold medal has shown his leadership throughout the years.

    The segment of fans that would consider Luongo soft are referring to those moments against Chicago in the playoffs over the course of the last two years.

    Perhaps simply the "soft" goals he gave up to Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien and his sulking attitude afterward warrant his inclusion in this group.

8. Martin St. Louis

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    Debatable, yes. But, Martin St. Louis is not exactly the toughest guy on skates in the NHL. And certainly his 5'7" frame makes it difficult to not be anything but a quick, skilled, scoring machine.

    This does not take away anything from the brilliant career that St. Louis has amassed over the years. He has won the MVP and Stanley Cup and has been to six All-Star games thus far in his career.

7. Sean Avery

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    There is a difference between being an "agitator" and an "enforcer" in the NHL, and Sean Avery paints that difference in bright colors with his play.

    The man who was recognized by 66% of NHL players as the most hated player in the game has been known to provoke players only to skate away. He has to receive some credit as his small stature mixed with his big talk show he has guts.

6. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    IIya Kovalchuk has been one of the top goal scorers in the NHL since he started with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2002. Since that time, he has gained the reputation as being somewhat of a "cherry picker" in some instances.

    Either way, the three-time All-Star continues to amaze on certain occasions. The Devils hope he can bring about a turnaround soon because they put all their eggs in his basket.

5. Alex Kovalev

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    The veteran winger who will be best remembered by most for his time in Montreal and New York, was thought of as being passive on most occasions. But Canadien fans will recall his elbow to Darcy Tucker of the Maple Leafs—which started a fight after.

4. Scott Gomez

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    Much like Paul Kariya, who is labeled as being "soft" because of his Flyer style of play and lack of big-time size, Scott Gomez is not known for getting in the trenches all that often.

    The two-time All-Star and two-time Stanley Cup winner has become an established player in his career which started in 1999.

    He currently plays for the Canadiens where he is trying to bring the Habs back to the Cup.

3. Olli Jokinen

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    Six inches taller than Mr. St. Louis stands Finnish center Olli Jokinen.

    The man who played the most games in the NHL without making it to the playoffs has always been looked at as a player that does not use his size to his advantage.

    Despite not playing as physically as some would like to see him play, Jokinen was a dominant scorer while in Florida.

2. Phil Kessel

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    One of the most polarizing figures in the NHL right now is Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Phil Kessel.

    Over the course of his career, he has been accused of being surly with the media and has also been accused by some to be soft on the ice. But, he is also a very skilled player, as he was on Team USA in the Olympics last year and was also selected to the All-Star Game this season.

    The former fifth overall selection in the draft has been plagued this season with his mark of minus-20 on his plus/minus, all the while playing for a team that is lacking vision.

1. Mike Ribeiro

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    Another player who has caught a lot of slack over the years for being "soft" or being a "dive artist," Mike Ribeiro has had his share of intriguing moments in the NHL.

    Many Bruins fans will remember Ribeiro best for his Oscar-worthy performance in the playoffs in 2004 while with Montreal. Since that time, he has toned it down a bit with Dallas and is still a skilled puck handler. He has made it to one All-Star game in his career.