(97.1 The Ticket) Who better to decide our favorite NHL debates than the subjects who comprise them?
To that end, the NHLPA released its 2017-18 player poll on Wednesday morning, providing answers to some of the league’s age-old questions. More than 500 players were surveyed on a host of topics such as:
Most difficult player to play against? Sidney Crosby. Toughest goalie to score on? Carey Price.
Best fans? The Blackhawks.
A few Red Wings were recognized, primarily from the team’s most recent dynasty. The one current player to crack the polls was Dylan Larkin, who finished fourth in the vote for fastest skater.
Conor McDavid was the overwhelming winner in this category, securing 81 percent of the vote. The Devils’ Michael Grabner was second (3.6 percent) and the Islanders’ Nick Leddy was third (2.4 percent). Larkin, who won the fastest skater competition at the 2016 All-Star Game with a then-record lap of 13.17 seconds, collected 2.2 percent of the vote.
McDavid bested Larkin’s mark a year later, racing around the ice in 13.02 seconds.
Five former Red Wings earned a salute from today’s players.
Niklas Lidstrom was voted the second-best defenseman of all time, behind only Bobby Orr. Orr, who revolutionized the position with his offense, secured 61 percent of the vote while Lidstrom garnered 29.1 percent. Orr won the Norris Trophy a record eight times; Lidstrom was a seven-time winner.
Lidstrom also finished fifth in the category of: Current/former player you would most like to have as a teammate. Wayne Gretzky — surprise, surprise — finished first.
Who did today’s players love the most growing up? Steve Yzerman was their second favorite, finishing just behind Peter Forsberg. In fact, the top four players in this category were at the forefront of the famous Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry in the ’90s. Joe Sakic finished third and Lidstrom finished fourth.
Dominik Hasek, whose best years obviously came with the Sabres but who won two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, was voted the third best goalie of all time. Patrick Roy finished first with 39.1 percent of the vote and Martin Brodeur finished second with 33.2 percent. Hasek, a six-time Vezina Trophy winner (three better than Roy and two better than Brodeur, by the way), collected 13.6 percent of the vote.
Finally, Steve Ott, a locker-room favorite on last year’s Red Wings team, tied for third with Ulf Samuelsson, who made a 13-game cameo with Detroit in 1999, in the category of: Current assistant coach who should be the next head coach. Ott is an assistant coach for the Blues while Samuelsson is an assistant coach for the Blackhawks.
Former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock finished fourth in the category of: Current coach you would most like to play for. Chicago’s Joel Quenneville finished first while Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper finished second.
The top five fanbases according to today’s players (who weren’t allowed to vote for their own) belong to the Blackhawks, the Predators, the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs and the Jets.