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Fan votes are in: Here's your NHL all-decade team

Friday, 01.15.2010 / 4:08 PM / All Decade 2000-2009

NHL.com

The votes are in.

During the last month, NHL.com has polled fans for their all-decade team by seeking votes for the decade's best goalie, defenseman, center and wing. In the case of defensemen and wings, the top two vote-getters were named to the esteemed team.

Nearly 150,000 votes later, here is how you voted for the first and second all-decade teams for 2000 through 2009 -- plus a comparison of the fans' vote to our NHL.com expert panel's choices.

A capsule summary: Fans and the NHL.com panel agreed on five of the six first-team all-decade lineup, but things turned pretty interesting among who was named second-team all-decade.

First Team
* (Denotes different choice between fans and NHL.com panel)
 
Goalie

Martin Brodeur
Teams: New Jersey Devils   (2000-present)

 
Fans vs. NHL.com panel:  The fans and NHL.com expert panel agreed on Brodeur's selection. The Devil goalie, who seems to rack up an NHL goalie record practically every week, attracted almost 60 percent of all fan votes for the goaltender position. 
 
NHL.com analysis:
Brodeur exits the decade as the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender and shutout leader. He owns three Stanley Cup rings in his career (two in the 2000s), made the NHL's First All-Star Team three times during the decade (no one else did it more than once) and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender four times. His 2006-07 season (an NHL-record 48 wins, a 2.18 goals-against average and 12 shutouts is one of the great performances of all-time by a goaltender.
 
No goaltender has ever handled the puck with Brodeur's skill. Few have shown his endurance (he passed Roy earlier this month for the most minutes played by a goaltender in a career). He's the all-time winner in shootout victories as well.

"He's one of the best there is, and there's a lot of reasons for it," said Devils President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello, who drafted Brodeur in 1990's first round. "He loves the game and he works at it every day. He respects his teammates and is a team player. He's been with us from Day 1 and he's never changed. No matter what success he has, he's the same person and he loves to win."

Defense

Nicklas Lidstrom
Teams: Detroit (2000-present)

 
Fans vs. NHL.com panel: Another overwhelming choice among fans, Lidstrom picked up nearly half of all votes for defensemen. No surprise, since Lidstrom gained votes as NHL Player of the Decade from the NHL.com panel and eventually finishing second in that voting to Brodeur.
 
NHL.com analysis: Lidstrom owned the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman, during the 2000s. He won it six times in a span of seven seasons from 2000-01 through 2007-08 while making the First All-Star Team six times (and the second team in 2008-09).
 
To watch Lidstrom is to watch a master at work. He's not going to amaze you with his speed, but he gets where he has to go. He's not the most physical defenseman you'll ever see, but he's plenty big enough. There's been no one better over the past several years at running a power play, triggering a breakout and doing anything and everything that needs to be done to win hockey games.
 
"He's the greatest that I've ever played against … and with," Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi  said earlier this season. "I was in during an era where there were some pretty darn good defensemen, Scott Niedermayer , Al MacInnis  and all that. Just playing against him year after year after year and being fortunate to be on the same side as him you can appreciate the kind of talent that he has. Just his character and his demeanor, and what he brings to the game and to the city of Detroit.”
 
Earlier this season, Lidstrom became the first European defenseman to reach 1,000 points for his career. That goes along with having the honor of being the first European captain to lift the Stanley Cup, which he did when the Wings beat Pittsburgh in 2008.
 
"Nick Lidstrom is one of the greatest defenseman of all time," said Wings broadcaster Larry Murphy , a Hall of Famer who was Lidstrom's partner in the late 1990s. "He's done it all. The guy that makes the game look so easy, but it's not. Count on him, game in, and game out."

Scott Niedermayer
Teams: New Jersey (2000-04); Anaheim (2005-present)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
Niedermayer was the other D-man on the NHL.com panel ballots too. Hard to argue for a guy who will serve as Team Canada captain in Vancouver come mid-February.
 
NHL.com analysis: Were it not for Lidstrom, we'd all be talking about how Niedermayer was the best defenseman of the decade. But he'll have to settle for being second -- think of him as the 2000s version of Brad Park  to Bobby Orr .
 
Niedermayer won the one Norris Trophy (2004) that eluded Lidstrom during his seven-year run. He also led the Devils to a Stanley Cup victory over Anaheim in 2003, then was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2007 when he led the Ducks to the only Cup in franchise history.
 
That came after Niedermayer left New Jersey -- where he had won three Cups -- to join his brother Rob in Anaheim.
 
"I was a Devil from the time I was a teenager to a father of three," Niedermayer said after joining the Ducks. "It might not make sense to people, but there was no reason to leave. With Anaheim, there were just reasons to go there, if that makes any sense."
 
Niedermayer has never put up enormous offensive numbers, but few defensemen (and probably none in this decade) could match him on sheer skating ability. But Niedermayer is much more than a flashy skater -- he's superb on the rush, an excellent passer and solid in his own zone. He's clutch, too -- Niedermayer leads all NHL defenseman in regular-season overtime goals with 13.
 
Center

Joe Sakic
Teams: Colorado (2000-09)
 
Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
The center position created a razor-thin margin of victory (less than 2 percent) for Sakic over Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Both the fans and NHL.com panel agree, but barely.

NHL.com analysis:
Through the first half of the decade, it's hard to find a player at any position who was better than Sakic, the face of the Colorado Avalanche  from the day the franchise arrived in Denver in 1995 through his retirement this past summer.
 
"It's all I ever wanted to do," Sakic said at his retirement ceremony in July. "I just wanted to be a hockey player, and that's all I am."
 

"It's all I ever wanted to do. I just wanted to be a hockey player, and that's all I am." -- Joe Sakic

And what a hockey player he was.
 
His best season came in 2000-01, when he won the Hart, Pearson and Lady Byng trophies after scoring 54 goals and 118 points, then led the Avs to the Stanley Cup. When, as team captain, he was handed the Cup after the Avs' victory over New Jersey in Game 7 of the Final, he didn't skate around with it but handed it off to Ray Bourque , who had waited 22 seasons to win a championship.
 
He was also a First-Team All-Star in 2001-02 and '03-04, and had 36 goals and 100 points as a 37-year-old in 2006-07.
 
"Without a doubt, he was the face of the franchise for over two decades," team president Pierre Lacroix  said on opening night when the franchise retired his No. 19.
 
Wings

* Jaromir Jagr
Teams: Pittsburgh (2000-01); Washington (2001-04); New York Rangers  (2004-08)
 
Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
Jagr earned the most votes among all skaters, finishing behind only Brodeur among total player votes. The Czech star, who will be suiting up for his country at the upcoming Winter Olympics and is the only Czech Republic team member remaining from the 1998 gold-medal squad, finished on the second all-decade team among panelists (and the third wing in out of four). 

NHL.com analysis:
Jagr was one of the great physical talents in NHL history, and figures to have a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame when he finally hangs up his skates. His 121-point season with the Penguins in '00-01 was one of the great performances of the last 20 years, considering the dearth of scoring at the time, and his 54-goal, 123-point effort in 2005-06 carried the Rangers to their first playoff berth since 1997.

Alex Ovechkin
Teams: Washington (2005-present)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
The fans and panel agree, but Ovi finished second to Jagr in the fan balloting. Both wings with Eastern European roots tripled the number of votes of Jarome Iginla and Marian Gaborik, who finished on the second team (see below).

NHL.com analysis:
From Oct. 5, 2005, the day he burst onto the NHL scene with a pair of goals in the Washington Capitals ' 3-2 victory over Columbus, Ovechkin has played the game with the kind of skill and panache that sets him apart from his peers.
 
Ovechkin has helped turn the Capitals from an NHL also-ran into a contender that has become the toast of Washington -- and perhaps the toughest ticket in town. No one in the NHL scores goals with his flair -- and volume (his 65-goal performance in 2007-08 was the most by anyone in more than a decade). Perhaps more important is that while other stars seem to work at playing hockey, Ovechkin appears to enjoy every second he's on the ice, whether it's firing another puck past a goaltender, running over an opponent or celebrating another goal or Washington victory.
 
One thing he wants to celebrate is a Stanley Cup.

"I don't want to say I'm going to score how many goals. I just want to win," he said. "That's all. Personal stats are good, but I'm always going to first think of the team. It has always been that way."
 
With three 50-goal seasons, three First-Team All-Star nods and 200-plus goals before his 25th birthday, don't be surprised if Ovechkin is also on the All-Decade team 10 years from now as well.
 

"I just have a dream and I followed this dream all the time. I don't spend much time with my friends. I just spent all my time in the hockey arena. When I was a kid I had a great time, but still I had to do all the time to be who I am right now." -- Alex Ovechkin

"I just have a dream and I followed this dream all the time," Ovechkin said of playing in the NHL. "I don't spend much time with my friends. I just spent all my time in the hockey arena. When I was a kid I had a great time, but still I had to do all the time to be who I am right now."

Second Team

Goaltender

* Dominik Hasek
Teams:
Buffalo (2000-01) Detroit (2001-02 to 2007-08)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
Despite playing less than half his career NHL games in the just-ended decade, Hasek, er, dominated the race for second-team goalie next to Martin Brodeur. No doubt, Hasek's 2002 Stanley Cup run persuaded lots of fans. Chris Osgood, the second-team goaltender on the panel squad, finished 7th overall in fan voting behind Brodeur, Hasek, Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff, Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Nabokov.
 
Defense:

* Scott Stevens
Teams: New Jersey (2000-04)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
Stevens, a fixture on the Devils starting in 1991 and through 2004, was a solid third in fan voting among all defensemen. The NHL.com panel clearly factored in Stevens playing the majority of his games in the 1990s. But, hey, no beef here, Stevens can man the blue line any time for the NHL All-Time Greats team.

Sergei Gonchar
Teams: Washington (2000-2004), Boston (2004), Penguins (2006-present)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
Winning a Stanley Cup in the last year of the decade clearly has influence. Fans voted Gonchar to all-decade second team in a close three-way race for the final spot among Gonchar, Chris Pronger and Zdeno Chara. Pronger and Chara, as it turns out, were the two choices for second-team all-decade among NHL.com panelists.

Sidney Crosby
Teams: Pittsburgh (2005-present)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
As mentioned, "Sid the Kid" was sort of 1-A at the center position for all-decade voting among fans and the panel alike. The revival of the Pittsburgh Penguins  traces to the arrival of Crosby in the 2005 Entry Draft. The most heralded draftee of his generation has lived up to the hype -- and then some. Crosby was a 100-point scorer as a rookie, the first teenage scoring champ, the youngest captain in NHL history and the youngest one to lift the Stanley Cup, which he did in his fourth season with the Penguins. He's another near-lock for the All-2010s team.

Fans also offered up some voting love for (in order) Joe Thornton, Peter Forsberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Mats Sundin and Henrik Zetterberg.

Wingers:

* Jarome Iginla
Teams: Calgary (2000-present)

Fans vs. NHL.com panel:
Iginla was first-team among the NHL.com panelists and a clear third-ranking wing in fan voting.
 
The Calgary Flames  took a lot of heat in December 1995 when they traded fan favorite Joe Nieuwendyk , one of the remaining links to the 1989 Stanley Cup-winning team, for journeyman center Corey Millen  and a kid named Jarome Iginla , the Stars' first pick in the Entry Draft that summer. But 14 years later, you'd be hard-pressed to fine anyone in Calgary who thinks the Flames made a bad trade.
 
Iginla is the prototype of the 21st-century power forward, and few if any players performed at such a sustained level of excellence throughout this decade. He had more than 30 goals in every season, beginning in 2000-01, had two of the 15 50-goal seasons in the League during the decade, won the Art Ross  Trophy in 2001-02, the Rocket Richard Trophy twice and was a two-time First-Team All-Star. He was also instrumental in leading the Flames to within a game of the Stanley Cup in 2004, leading all players with 13 playoff goals. In addition to his offensive exploits, he provides the kind of physical presence that few big scorers do.
 
* Marian Gaborik
Teams: Minnesota (2000-2009), New York Rangers (2009-present
)
 
OK, if winning a Stanley Cup helped Sergei Gonchar win a second-team all-decade nomination from fans, then surely the Rangers' one-man scoring machine Gabrorik's fast start this season helped him beat out Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk for the final spot on the fans' roster. Kovalchuk was the choice among the NHL.com panelists, while Dany Heatley and Markus Naslund both gathered some voting momentum among fans and the panelists.
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