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Blackhawks rank high in NHLPA/HNIC's player poll

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews is adding to a rock-solid 2011-12 season by garnering high praise from his peers in the NHL.

For the second year running, the National Hockey League Players' Association and CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" conducted a poll of 257 NHL players to gauge their reactions to topics ranging from skill-related categories to general leaguewide issues. Several Blackhawks ranked high individually and the organization itself garnered praise in a few areas.

"Team You'd Like to Play For"—No. 1: Original Six teams made up the top five teams in this category, but the Blackhawks topped the list with 14 percent of all votes.

"Coach You'd Like to Play For"—Joel Quenneville, No. 2: With over 600 career victories, consistent postseason appearances and a Stanley Cup championship on his resume, Coach Q rightly ranks high in this category, scoring 11 percent of all votes and coming in second to Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma.

"Favorite Rink to Play In"—United Center, No. 2: The rabid atmosphere in Montreal's Bell Centre took top ranking for the players' favorite atmosphere, but the Madhouse on Madison, with its nightly capacity crowds and famed anthem tradition, came in second with 17 percent.

"Best Role Model"—Jonathan Toews, No. 3: In hockey, solid leadership is paramount to a team's success. Captain Serious is one of the game's rising stars, coming in third with 10 percent of the players' vote, behind Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

"Smartest Player"—Jonathan Toews, No. 4: Toews again rates highly among his peers as a guy who not only plays the game but thinks it through.

"Most Difficult to Play Against"—Jonathan Toews, No. 5: The Blackhawks captain finds himself in the company of "unstoppable" players around the NHL, led by Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Boston's Zdeno Chara.

"Best Skater"—Duncan Keith, No. 4: Skating is the most fundamental aspect of the game, the foundation upon which other skills accrue, and the 2010 Norris Trophy winner was the highest ranked defenseman on a list of speedsters with fancy footwork.
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