In my previous articles, I have discussed the metaphorical attribute of “heart” in sports as it pertains to athletes in baseball, basketball, and football. Now, I feel it would only be appropriate to assess which athletes in hockey possess the greatest amount of heart.
While I do not claim myself to be as knowledgeable about hockey as I am in baseball, basketball, and football, I have certainly noticed several hockey players who seem to consistently exhibit a level of heart that exceeds the majority of other players in the sport. If anyone strongly feels that I omitted a player who belongs in the discussion above a player who was included, definitely feel free to let me know.
1) Sidney Crosby, C (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Sidney has just recently reached his 21st birthday, and yet he is already arguably the greatest player in the NHL. In fact, even the great Wayne Gretzky has predicted that Sidney Crosby may be the one to someday break his own records. That’s how good this kid is.
While a lot of his success has come as a result of his talents, it is Crosby’s maturity and heart that truly brings him up to a level of his own. Despite being an elite level NHL player, Sidney is never afraid to do the dirty work for the team.
He is a pass first player who is always looking to help out his teammates, and he has shown the willingness to drop the gloves and defend his team if his opponents start to take some cheap shots.
Furthermore, Sidney does not allow himself to becomes distracted by the allures of money and fame, an extraordinarily rare characteristic for a young man of his age.
2) Jarome Iginlia, LW (Calgary Flames)
In a sport in which the majority of its athletes have a similar look, demeanor, and skin tone, Jarome is truly a breed of his own. As one of the few black players in the NHL and one of the only black captains in the history of the NHL, Jarome has truly established himself as a leader of the Calgary Flames and a model citizen in the league.
He is known for playing the game hard and often excels in tight spaces and physical play situations. In addition, Jarome is noted for having an extremely rigorous workout, one that would more likely resemble that of a football player as opposed to a hockey player.
Finally, in what may be considered Jarome’s greatest showing of his heart, he has become very well known in Calgary for possessing a sincere and strong appreciation for his the game and his fans. One well known example of this took place during the 2002 Olympics, in which Jarome was having dinner with his family when he noticed a group of four men who had traveled from Calgary to see him play.
Jarome went over to their table and spoke to them for a bit, and learned that they were actually staying in their car for the night. Jarome then left for a short time, and returned to notify the group of fans that he booked a room for the group at the same hotel at which he was staying with his family. In fact, Jarome even went so far as to pay for their bill. That seems like a serious display of heart to me.
3) Patrick Kane, RW (Chicago Blackhawks)
At only 5’10" and 175 pounds, Patrick may be a small kid, but he plays with a big heart. Even at the tender age of 19, Pat has already developed a reputation around the league for playing hard, and he has helped bring the Chicago Blackhawks franchise upwards towards a level of respectability. Not bad for a kid who can’t even legally have a beer yet.
4) Henrik Lunquist, G (New York Rangers)
Throughout the majority of the NHL, most goalies aren’t particularly known for displays of passion or emotion. Their job is to remain in the confines of their goals, and stop pucks when they are shot to their vicinity. However, this isn’t quite the case for the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lunquist.
Despite playing a typically inexpressive position, Lunquist is known by New York fans to play with a strong and unique passion at all times. Lunquist plays with his head in the game at all times, and he is never afraid to show it. Henrik plays with the aurora of a star and gives his all at all times on the ice, even if its not always through conventional means. In short, Henrik is a winner, and he has the heart of a winner.
5) Nicklas Lidstrom, D (Detroit Red Wings)
Lidstrom is one of the greatest defense-men of his era, and is the current captain of the Detroit Red Wings. Throughout his career, Lidstrom has always been a winner and someone who has led his team by example. He consistently is among the league lead in playing time, as he is someone who always wants to be out on the ice in order to help his team win. Now in the latter part of his career, Nicklas is still an outstanding leader, and he will surely go down as an all time NHL great.