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The most surprising results of the NHLPA's player poll

Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin are two of the top players in the NHL -- or so we thought until reading the results of a survey of more than 500 current NHL players. Icon Sportswire

The National Hockey League Players Association put out its players' poll for 2018 on Wednesday, and it was filled with predictable results (Sidney Crosby wins everything) and a few surprises.

NHL players were surveyed on more than 20 hockey-related questions during their annual NHLPA team meetings between the preseason and early January 2018. More than 500 players took part in the poll, but not all of them answered every question.

Here are 10 surprising results from the 2018 NHLPA poll:


Ovechkin and Malkin? Nyet!

It's pretty remarkable that Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, who is second in the NHL in points at the moment, and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL in goals, aren't mentioned in any category of the players' poll. In fact, only two Russian players hit the board: Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was named the fourth-toughest goalie to score on, and Tampa Bay Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov was named the third-most underrated player. (Ovechkin's longtime linemate Nicklas Backstrom, a Swede, was named the most underrated player.)

No love for Sully

Mike Sullivan has led the Penguins to two straight Stanley Cups but was nowhere to be found in the top five coaches players would like to play for. Interestingly enough, when the NHLPA held this players' poll in 2012, then-Penguins coach Dan Bylsma won it with 21 percent of the vote, over this year's winner, Joel Quenneville.

Also making the cut in 2012 but not here: Columbus Blue Jackets taskmaster John Tortorella (then with the Rangers) and Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan (then with the Sharks).

Players aren't great at identifying rising coach candidates

The NHLPA poll asked players which assistant coaches should be the next head coaches. Please keep in mind that when they asked this in 2012, only one of the five (Dave Cameron) went on to get a head-coaching gig in the NHL. Sorry, D.J. Smith and Todd Reirden!

Players love charity points

There's certainly a disconnect between what some fans, media and coaches have griped about regarding the NHL's standings points system and how the players feel about it. But then, forced parity does give many of them something to play for, while a truer representation of the fortunes of teams would have many of them counting lottery balls in February.

Jonathan Toews, franchise player

Toews finished second to Sidney Crosby for the NHL's best role model, so you can see the logic behind the players' voting him fourth for the player you'd select to start a franchise. A 29-year-old player who has broken 70 points once in his career. As they say: Not every general manager could play, and not every player can be a general manager. But hey, leadership, right?

The ice in Florida is (still) terrible

The BB&T Center's ice was named the worst in the NHL by 16.8 percent of the respondents. This is notable because, well, they've had some time to try to remedy this: The Florida Panthers' arena was also named the worst ice in the league in 2012, with 18 percent of the vote. Once again, the only quality ice found in South Florida is in a cocktail.

Players don't know how to win games

Look, if the question is, "If you need to win one game, who is the No. 1 player (any position) you would want on your team?" then Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid probably belong in the conversation. But how does only one goalie make this list? This is the player whose performance can literally be the difference between a win and a loss. And it's not like the NHL is lacking big-game goalie options: Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne, Matt Murray, Corey Crawford and also Carey Price, who was our representative here.

The legend of Carey Price

It's interesting that 41 percent of players felt that Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price was the toughest goalie to shoot on in the NHL, with Quick a distant second (12.1 percent). But it's baffling that on the "Who is the best goalie of all time?" question, Price was tied with Ken Dryden (3 percent) behind Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek (who should have been first). Not Lundqvist. Not Roberto Luongo. Not Ed Belfour or Billy Smith or Glenn Hall or Bernie Parent or Jacques Plante. Carey Price, fourth-best goalie in NHL history. Open a book -- or at least, Hockey Reference -- sometime, players.

Peter Forsberg lovefest

The average age of current NHL players is about 27 years old, which means their formative hockey years were in the mid-to-late 1990s. Hence, it's Hall of Famer Forsberg who was named the favorite player growing up, just edging Steve Yzerman.

Please adjust your "this makes me feel old" accordingly.

Shut up and skate

This might be my favorite entry:

For all the talk about chemistry and being "good in the room" and all the ancillary noise that we create about why a team wins or loses, what it overwhelmingly comes down to for players is whether the guy next to them is putting in the work.

Honesty, loyalty and respect don't even add up to work ethic, which must make John Cena sad.