Like there was any doubt.
In a poll released yesterday by the NHL Players Association, the Chicago Blackhawks proved once again why they are the most respected franchise in the league.
The NHLPA polled 500 players on a variety of topics. The players voted the Blackhawks fans to be the best in the league, getting over 30% of all votes casted. Nashville was the second highest vote getter, followed by Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg. This is really not that surprising. The United Center boasts sold out games all season long, and Blackhawks fans are some of the most well-travelled fans in the league. From Arizona to Columbus to Sunrise, Florida to even the most recent games the Hawks played in California, Blackhawks fans almost always fill out opponents’ arenas.
Head coach Joel Quenneville was picked by the players to be the coach they most want to play for, getting 16.5% of the votes cast. Again, not surprising, considering Q’s pedigree. The second most-winningest coach in league history, along with three Stanley Cup rings as head coach, he has definitely earned the respect of players throughout the NHL.
Here are how the Blackhawks fared in the rest of the poll:
Which coach would you most like to play for? Joel Quenneville (1st – 16.5%)
Which team (excluding your own) has the best fans? Blackhawks (1st – 30.4%)
Which player is the best role model? Jonathan Toews (2nd – 9.6%)
Who is the best team player? Jonathan Toews (2nd – 11%)
Which is your favorite rink to play in? United Center (2nd – 21.9%)
Which current assistant coach should be the next head coach? Ulf Samuelsson (3rd – 5.1%)
Who is the most difficult player to play against? Patrick Kane (3rd – 4.6%)
Which forward is the most difficult to play against? Patrick Kane (3rd – 5.7%)
If you need to win one game, who is the #1 player (any position) you would want on your team? Patrick Kane (4th – 3.7%)
Which player would you select to start a franchise? Jonathan Toews (4th – 3.1%)
Which current player would be a great coach once they retire? Jonathan Toews (5th – 3.6%)
ICYMI: The Blackhawks recently signed D Erik Gustafsson to the two-year extension. Gustafsson now carries a $1.2 million per year AAV towards the salary cap. Gustafsson celebrated his new contract by scoring the opening goal two nights ago against the Colorado Avalanche.
Forward Tyler Sikura was also signed by the Blackhawks into an entry-level contract. Sikura, who’s brother Dylan is one of the Blackhawks’ most prized prospects, has 25 points in 57 games with the Rockford Ice Hogs.
The Blackhawks are back at it tonight against Scott Darling, Teuvo Teravainen and the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes are currently in a tight race for the second wildcard spot in the East, so it would be fun if the Blackhawks get a win here and play spoiler for a little bit.