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Datsyuk tops poll as NHL’s nicest player

Feb 24, 2012, 5:09 PM EDT

Pavel Datsyuk AP

Nice guy, that Pavel Datsyuk.

That was the general consensus from the latest installment of Sports Illustrated’s NHL Player Poll, which asked who the league’s nicest player is.

Nine percent of the 179 votes cast picked Datsyuk, a four-time winner of the Lady Byng Award, given annually to the NHL’s most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player.

The 33-year-old Russian narrowly edged out a pair of Phoenix Coyotes for top spot. The first is forward Ray Whitney (seven percent) who, at 39, is the NHL’s seventh-oldest player — interesting, because not a single player under the age of 30 made the top 10 nicest players.

Whitney’s teammate, Phoenix captain Shane Doan, also received seven percent of the votes — no real surprise, given that Doan’s peers tend to speak about him like they’re his job reference. Here’s Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin talking about Doan on the NHLPA website:

“The one thing that has really struck me about Shane is his ability to listen to everyone, to treat everyone with the same respect and to make every single player feel comfortable and confident. I’ve played against Shane enough to know just how talented he is as a player. He impresses you even more, though, as a person and as a captain.

“Shane is what every leader should be. He is the ultimate professional on the ice and in the community. I give his parents a lot of credit for that, too. He is a tireless worker and only wants what is best for the team. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Rounding out the nice guy list: Detroit captain Niklas Lidstrom (six percent), Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis (five percent) and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne (five percent). SI also notes that Carolina’s Brian Boucher was the only goalie in the top 10 and — make of this what you will — the only American in the top 10 as well.

  1. rabidbillsfan - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Being from Buffalo, nobody will know, but Jason Pominville should have made that list. Nicest profesional I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Paul Gaustad too.

    • govtminion - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      It’s one of the nice things to this sport- there aren’t a whole lot of asshole hockey players, at least off the ice. Those that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting have, for the most part, been very nice people who genuinely enjoyed being around fans. In particular, I remember Dan Hinote coming out of Pepsi Center one cold afternoon after a matinee game and spending a good half hour walking around talking to fans, signing items, and just having fun despite it being below freezing in Denver. He finally headed off to get his SUV and head out… and then pulled up next to everyone gathered outside, got out, and announced that he “needed to let it warm up anyway”, and spent another good fifteen minutes out there with us. You won’t find many NBA or NFL types willing to do that.

  2. procrosbytalk - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    while this guy gets the nice awards. pringles can malkin is getting mvp

    • pens87 - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      Come on man, your giving us Pens fans a bad wrap. No point to your comment in this story, so why make it? I agree with you Malkin is having an MVP like season, but what does that have to do with Datsyuk being a nice guy? I met Datsyuk during the 2009 final, and even though I was wearing a Pens shirt he still smiled and signed a poster for me, so he is a really nice guy. And by the way, you make it seem like Datsyuk is “so far below” Malkin, when in reality he is not, and if anything has been more consistent then Malkin throughout the years. Please be wiser with your comments in the future.

      • govtminion - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:56 PM

        You must be new here. Meet the resident troll-of-a-thousand-names. Now do yourself a favor and ignore everything he says from now on. You’ll learn to spot his posts, because no matter which of his names he uses, his writing style is the same every time- abrasive, rude, and nonsensical.

  3. fleurysteeth - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    nuh huh.

  4. polegojim - Feb 25, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    One of my favorite parts of Dats game is his ability to be very physical, w/o cheap shots

    Great Job Pavel

  5. willsports - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    He is truly a nice player… him and Sean Avery haha. Check out

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  3. P. Datsyuk (1322)
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