Datsyuk a star in NHLPA player poll

Nearly 260 players participated in the 2011-12 NHLPA poll, which asked questions regarding skill categories, fighting, the instigator rule, favourite coaches, and which Canadian city next deserves a team.
Detroit Red Wings centre Pavel Datsyuk has the respect of NHL players across the league. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Like it did a year ago, the Hockey Night in Canada/NHLPA player poll is sure to generate plenty of discussion and debate about how the players' opinion on a variety of topics.

In total, 257 or more than one-third of NHL players participated in the 2011-12 player poll, and the player representation came from two-thirds of the NHL teams. The players answered a total of 28 questions in five categories: skills, team and players, opinions, coaches, arenas and on-ice topics.

Some of the questions asked the players for their opinion included:

  • Figthing in hockey
  • The instigator rule
  • Which Canadian city is most suited for an NHL franchise
  • Which player would you start a franchise with
  • Who has the hardest shot
  • Best skater
  • Fastest skater
  • Most underrated player
  • Smartest player
  • Toughest player
  • Cleanest player
  • Most difficult goalie to score on
  • Best role model
  • Most underrated team
  • Most overrated team
  • Best referee
  • Coach they'd most like to play for
  • Most demanding coach
  • Assistant coach that should be next head coach
  • Favourite rink
  • Best ice
  • Worst ice

Some of the results included:       

Pavel Datsyuk was voted in the top spot for six different results, including the smartest player and the hardest to take the puck from.

Marian Gaborik was again voted by his peers as the best skater, as well as the fastest.

Patrice Bergeron earned the nod from the players as the most underrated, while his teammate Zdeno Chara was overwhelmingly voted the toughest defenceman to play against; meanwhile, Milan Lucic earned the top spot for toughest player, narrowly edging out teammates Chara and Shawn Thornton.         

Henrik Lundqvist was convincingly voted as the most difficult goalie to beat.

Nicklas Lidstrom was named the best role model, followed closely by Sidney Crosby.

While concussions has been and will continue to be an important issue in the game today, the NHLPA declined to publicly survey its membership on concussions, choosing instead to keep discussion internal on the private medical matter.  

For complete player poll results, please visit