The Sports Illustrated NHL Players Poll continues to supply contentious little factoids, and again it's at the expense of a Toronto Maple Leafs player.
Please recall defenseman Dion Phaneuf leading his peers by a wide margin on the list of the NHL's most overrated players. The latest question answered anonymously by 145 NHL players: Which All-Star-caliber player is the easiest to intimidate?
The top responses:
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs RW 15%
The Sedin Twins, Vancouver Canucks F's 8%
Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals LW 7%
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks C 3%
Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils LW 3%
It's a pretty damning question, perhaps even more so than being "overrated." This is essentially "who is the softest" or "who is the most weak-willed" player in the NHL today. (To that latter point, Roberto Luongo received votes as well.)
For Kessel, some of this could be perception — buoyed by performances like his 1 assist in four games against the Boston Bruins this season, skating to a minus-7. But some of it comes from relevant experience in playing against him. He carried this "soft" label with him from the Bruins to the Leafs. He hasn't shaken it.
With regard to the Sedins at No. 2, SI writes:
Identical twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin of the Canucks received votes as a pair as well as individually: Alone, Henrik finished tied for sixth in the voting (3%) and Daniel tied for 17th (1%).
Wonder what that discrepancy is about. Is it because Daniel's the goal scorer? Or because he could take a punch?
Semin hitting this list isn't a surprise.
Kane's a little surprising, although he takes his share of physical punishment during the game. He's not a gritty player; maybe the complaint from his peers is that he needs to find that element.
We'll assume this poll was answered before Kovalchuk got his Gordie on, and that the lingering effects of Sean Avery's tormenting of the Russian contributed to it.
Which All-Star types should have made this list that didn't?