Cam Cole: NHL fans, players beg to differ with their bouquets and brickbats

 

 
 
 
 
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 12:  Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal during a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on March 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Marchand scored the game winning goal. The Bruins defeat the Lightning 3-2.
 
 

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 12: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal during a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on March 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Marchand scored the game winning goal. The Bruins defeat the Lightning 3-2.

Photograph by: Maddie Meyer, Vancouver Sun

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As we all know, hockey fans are rational human beings, fair-minded to a fault, and able to see the big picture without petty provincialism.

National Hockey League players, similarly, are all about the well-being of the game, hold no grudges and never make decisions based on factors as crass as salary, climate, taxation or the median hotness of women in a given city’s nightclubs.

Also (full disclosure here), the task of interpreting results of this 2015-16 Postmedia hockey poll of players and fans has fallen to a scribe who has divided his career among Edmonton (22 years, five Stanley Cups), Toronto (seven years, zero Cups) and Vancouver (11 years, also bupkes).

This doesn’t mean he hasn’t spent weeks, even months, in hotels and rinks and ballparks and drinking establishments in Calgary and Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa, thereby qualifying him to venture semi-informed opinions. Just saying …

First, the fan poll:

Favourite/least favourite Canadian-based team: We combined these two because the results are hilarious. The Toronto Maple Leafs are No. 1 in both categories, meaning they’re the top love/hate club among Canadians. The Winnipeg Jets rank last in both, meaning most respondents have no feelings about them, either way. The Jets are just sort of … there. But the answers, understandably at present, indicate a lot of “meh” toward Canadian teams in general.

Next Canadian team to win the Cup: This was a nail-biter between Edmonton among those with endless faith in the inevitability of No. 1 draft picks, and Montreal among those with endless faith in Carey Price. I might have gone for (h) it’ll never happen again.

Norris Trophy winner: Too close to call. Sens’ Erik Karlsson, clearly the class of the East, will probably win again because everyone loves points and high risk/reward, and are a little unclear about what else defencemen are supposed to do. Give me Doughty, the 200-foot player and two-time Cup champ, any time, but I also understand living in the East and being in bed by the time the Western guys drop the puck. (P.S., in another year, the winner might be the Predators’ Roman Josi.)

Vezina Trophy: Caps’ Braden Holtby, landslide.

Calder Trophy: The voters love Connor McDavid, though he’s missed nearly half the season for the Oilers. Obviously they’re projecting what he’d have done if he’d stayed healthy, and aren’t crazy about runaway rookie points leader Artemi Panarin of Chicago being five years older.

Hart Trophy: Patrick Kane built an insurmountable lead, and will cruise to it.

Who wins the Cup: The fans went with Washington, winner of the Presidents’ Trophy (always risky), but not by much over the semi-dynastic Blackhawks. L.A. was the only other team given more than a 10 per cent chance.

Now for the questions the players also answered …

Most overrated: The Penguins’ little ball of cotton, Phil Kessel, was the overwhelming choice among players, but fans ranked him second behind Montreal litmus test P.K. Subban. Then again, the fans also voted in numbers for Kane, Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Erik Karlsson, to name just a few, so maybe they’re not entirely impartial.

Dirtiest: In the player vote, Boston’s Zac Rinaldo won by a snout over fellow rat Brad Marchand, who’s gone somewhat straight since he started scoring like mad. But once again, the fans begged to differ, picking Marchand in a runaway, 32 per cent to just over eight per cent for runner-up Raffi Torres, who’s not even in the league.

Biggest pain in the butt to play against: Clearly, there were too many barbed-wire shirts for the players to focus on just one. Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Zdeno Chara, Marchand … so much irritation, so little time. The fans had no difficulty, though, again choosing Marchand. Possibly a lifetime achievement award. They picked Habs’ Brendan Gallagher second.

Biggest impression this year: Kane was No. 1 for the players, not surprisingly. What’s surprising is that McDavid was second. The fans had it the other way around; McDavid first, by more than a two-to-one margin. This kid is so special, he’s risen above the Oilers’ awfulness, and everyone sees it.

Favourite/worst Canadian city to visit: Calgary is considering legal action over the results. It tied for last in both categories, which is nonsensical. Tied with Winnipeg (which basically is the Rodney Dangerfield of this poll) at the bottom of the “favourite” list, but tied with Montreal and Toronto at the bottom of the “worst” list? Pick one, fellas.

Vancouver wins as favourite by lots over Montreal and Toronto, which is probably fair, and doesn’t get a single vote for worst place to visit, which will add greatly to its superiority complex, but let’s face it: it is superior, as long as you’re not in the market for a home, or don’t mind living in a piano crate … in Chilliwack.

The poll is considered statistically accurate to within 50 percentage points, which means if you asked again after a win or a loss or a blizzard or a slow night at the Roxy, answers might be totally different.

ccole@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/rcamcole

 
 
 
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BOSTON, MA - MARCH 12:  Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal during a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on March 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Marchand scored the game winning goal. The Bruins defeat the Lightning 3-2.
 

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 12: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal during a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on March 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Marchand scored the game winning goal. The Bruins defeat the Lightning 3-2.

Photograph by: Maddie Meyer, Vancouver Sun

 
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 12:  Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal during a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on March 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Marchand scored the game winning goal. The Bruins defeat the Lightning 3-2.
Cam Cole poll
 
 
 
 
 
 
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