Sports

NHL's best player? 0

TIM BAINES

Let the debate end. The majority of the NHL's players say it's Sidney Crosby.

And, sorry Alex Ovechkin, it's not even close.

In a poll of players conducted by QMI Agency writers from across Canada, Sid the Kid was named the franchise player a team should build around, the best skater, the smartest player, finished second in the best passer ranking and was third as best stickhandler.

"It's a no-brainer right now. Sidney Crosby," said New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron, when asked which player he would choose if he was starting a franchise. "It's been a debate over the last few years, but right now, I don't think there's any debate that he's the best player."

"He loves the game. That's what I hear," Ottawa Senators centre Chris Kelly said. "He works really hard. He does a lot of research and he's really dedicated."

Ovechkin got his share of votes, but he's not doing himself any favours with his play this season.

Edmonton Oilers rookie Taylor Hall got some support.

"I'd pick Taylor Hall if we're really starting from scratch and the team won't be ready to win for five or six years," one NHLer said.

Strapping Derek Boogaard was a two-time winner, finishing first as the slowest skater and best fighter. At 6-foot-7 and 258 pounds, he's an imposing figure to drop the gloves against.

Several players voted for Vancouver Canucks' Rick Rypien, a lightweight at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, but tagged as the "best pound-for-pound fighter," by a few. Colton Orr, Eric Godard and George Parros, while outside of the top three, got plenty of votes as well.

Sean Avery was another two-time winner -- as best trash talker and dirtiest player.

The voting was close in several categories.

While some players declined to vote on best referee -- "I don't know any of their names," said one player. "All inconsistent," said another. -- Bill McCreary had a big edge in the end result.

While Pavel Datsyuk had a wide edge in voting for best stickhandler, several others factored into the voting. Alex Kovalev, Rick Nash, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin were closely grouped together.

For the most fun city, New York had a big edge, but Chicago, Montreal, Vancouver, Nashville, Los Angeles and Toronto all had plenty of support.

While Wayne Gretzky was most often named as the NHL hero as a kid, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman got plenty of votes. Guy Lafleur, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Joe Sakic were also named as childhood heroes by several players.

Henrik Lundqvist is the NHL's Mr. GQ, winning as the best dressed player by a wide margin.

There are obviously plenty of nice guys around the league, judging by the number of players who got votes. While Craig Conroy and Nicklas Lidstrom led the Mr. Nice Guys, Jason Strudwick, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Teemu Selanne got lots of support.

tim.baines@sunmedia.ca

- - -

SMARTEST PLAYER

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Nicklas Lidstrom

3. Henrik Zetterberg

- - -

BEST GOALIE

1. Tim Thomas

2. Henrik Lundqvist

3. Ryan Miller

- - -

BEST PASSER

1. Henrik Sedin

2. Sidney Crosby

3. Joe Thornton

- - -

NICEST PLAYER

1. Craig Conroy

2. Nicklas Lidstrom

3. Shane Doan

- - -

DIRTIEST PLAYER

1. Sean Avery

2. Matt Cooke

3. Chris Pronger

- - -

BEST SKATER

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Marian Gaborik

3. Alex Ovechkin

- - -

BEST STICKHANDLER

1. Pavel Datsyuk

2. Alex Kovalev

3. Sidney Crosby

- - -

HARDEST HITTER

1. Zdeno Chara

2. Dustin Brown

3. Dion Phaneuf

- - -

BEST DRESSED

1. Henrik Lundqvist

2. Jamal Mayers

3. Vincent Lecavalier

- - -

BEST TRASH TALKER

1. Sean Avery

2. Steve Ott

3. Jarkko Ruutu

- - -

FRANCHISE PLAYER

1. Sidney Crosby 2. Alex Ovechkin 3. Steven Stamkos

- - -

BEST SHOOTER

1. Alex Ovechkin

2. Steven Stamkos

3. Shea Weber

- - -

SLOWEST SKATER

1. Derek Boogaard

2. Hal Gill

3. Steve MacIntyre

- - -

BEST FIGHTER

1. Derek Boogaard (left)

2. Rick Rypien

3. Steve MacIntyre (right)

- - -

SMARTEST COACH

1. Mike Babcock

2. Dave Tippett

3. Barry Trotz

- - -

HOCKEY HERO AS A KID

1. Wayne Gretzky 2. Steve Yzerman 3. Mario Lemieux

- - -

BEST REFEREE

1. Bill McCreary

2. Brad Watson

3. Paul Devorski, Dave Jackson (tie)

- - -

FUNNEST CITY

1. New York

2. Chicago

3. Montreal


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »