Monday, January 31, 2011

CBC Poll Results

Hockey Night in Canada and the NHLPA polled over 300 NHL players about a variety of topics, ranging from which rink had the best ice to whether fighting should be banned in the NHL. The poll yielded some interesting results and the Penguins as a whole did very well.

There were five categories: Arenas/Teams, Coaches, On-Ice Topics, Player Opinions and Skills. The full results can be found here, on CBC's website, but I wanted to take some time for a little more in-depth look at some of the results in all five categories.

Arenas/Teams- No Real Surprises Here

Canadian teams' rinks have the best ice. Southern teams have the worst. Everyone wants to play for Detroit. No one wants to play for the Islanders. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The only thing that some found to be remotely surprising is that the Sabres made the list in teams that players would least like to play for. After all, they were a playoff team last year and are still in the postseason hunt for the second half of this season.

However, as someone who grew up only an hour away from Buffalo, I can tell you that this result isn't surprising. It's not about the caliber of the team. It's about the city itself. Buffalo is a generally depressing city, the weather would make even Gary Roberts cry, and nothing happens there. Brooks Orpik and Patrick Kane would tell you the same. No one wants to live in Buffalo.

One of my professors even said last week that there's nothing to do in Buffalo except cry, drink, and beat up Canadians. Not necessarily in that order. (Her words, not mine. I love her classes though.)

Coaches- Blame HBO

This category, on the other hand, had lots of good stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to find our own Disco Dan voted as the coach that players would most like to play for. Given how well Bylsma came across on "24/7", maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I discussed this briefly with my editor at Chicks Who Give A Puck and she said that she personally thought Bylsma was the star of the show and that everyone she talked to agreed. She also pointed out to me that for West Coast fans like herself, it was really the first up-close look at Bylsma that they'd ever gotten because the Penguins don't play West Coast teams very frequently. It's not unrealistic to think that many NHL players tuned into "24/7" and that West Coast players who did so thought the same.

It was also interesting to note that Bruce Boudreau was voted the coach that players thought was easiest to play for (f-bombs notwithstanding). Bylsma and Dave Tippett also made this list, yet they both were on the list of coaches that players would most like to play for. Boudreau was not. Bylsma and Mike Babcock were also on the list of coaches that demand most from their players, but Babcock joined Bylsma on the list of coaches players would most like to play for. John Tortorella, to no one's surprise, was voted the most demanding coach and was also one of the coaches players would least like to play for.

The moral of the story here? The most popular coaches can be demanding and/or easy to play for, as long as they aren't too extreme in either direction. Balance is key. As is not wanting Hรคagen-Dazs at ten in the morning.

On-Ice Topics- Say What?

As CBC noted, this category had the question with probably the most surprising result. It's been thought that players want to do their own "policing". We all assumed that the current instigator rule, which was established in 1992, was unpopular. That cheap shots are becoming more common because cheap shot artists don't have to worry so much about answering to enforcers. Even my dad, who is not a frequent hockey viewer, said he remembered back in the day when no one would dare take a run at a team's superstars because of guys like Bob Probart and Dave Brown. We all thought that, when asked, players would want to get rid of the instigator rule.

We thought wrong.

The players were asked if they thought the instigator rule should be abolished. A large majority (66%) said no. I'd like to see CBC go further with this question and ask players not just if they think the rule should be kept or abolished, but why they think so. It would be very interesting to find out exactly why so many players answered the way they did. Also, Sean Avery needs to be forced to answer this question. I would pay money to read his response.

Player Opinions- Everybody Loves Sidney

It's no surprise, considering how dominant a season he was having before his concussion, that Sidney Crosby faired well in these categories. Crosby was voted the toughest forward to play against, the best active player to start a franchise around, and the best role model. He won the player to start a franchise around question by capturing an overwhelming margin, capturing 69% of the votes. In second place? Nik Lidstrom...at 6%. I normally don't put too much faith in statistics but that one doesn't lie.

I also found it hilarious that 15% of players voted no one as the best NHL referee, which ended up in the top spot. I guess players like the refs as much as fans do. Yet another reason why I would never want to be a referee in any sport. It seems like a very thankless job.

Skills- More Dominance From Sid

Once again, Crosby did very well in these categories. He was voted toughest player to play against and the smartest player, and second best skater, most difficult player to stop, and most difficult player to take the puck off of.

I thought CBC made a good point about the toughest player to play against question. Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and Zdeno Chara were the top three in this category (Datsyuk and Chara tied for second) but they're all tough to play against for different reasons. They're all highly skilled players and are among, if not the, best at their respective positions, but they all excel at different aspects of the game. CBC speculates that players may have varied definitions of "toughness", which is a distinct possibility. It can't be denied that Pavel Datsyuk and Zdeno Chara have very different kinds of toughness. For example, it is almost impossible to knock Datsyuk off a puck. Chara, on the other hand, is almost impossible to knock over.

As CBC also pointed out, Ovechkin was top five in four categories, but first in only one of them (which player is most difficult to stop, for goalies only). Crosby, on the other hand, is top five in ten categories and only in one of those categories is he not in the top two. Hmmm.

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