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08-07-2013, 07:02 PM
God Bless Canada
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Bentley reunion
Country: Canada
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As far as intangibles are concerned, one of the best resources would be the 1988-89 Hockey News Yearbook, a story by Karlo Berkovich entitled "Here is the Inside Scoop." And what a story it was; nearly 25 years later, it remains one of my favourite THN Yearbook stories. You know it's going to be a good one when the lead paragraph is "Let's face it. Most quotes from NHLers are about as exciting as a road trip to Winnipeg."

So for that year's Yearbook, THN granted total anonymity for players, coaches and officials for a poll. This list is a little out-of-order; it's done based on relevance. Some of the poll results (best refs, best venues, best uniforms) are left out of this thread. Some aren't necessarily relevant to intangibles, but they sure are fun to read. Some of these are expected, others are very surprising.

Mods: I hope I'm not violating any policities with this post. If I am, I apologize.

Hardest hitters: Mark Messier, Ray Bourque, Wendel Clark, Scott Stevens, Steve Smith and Cam Neely drew praise, while Bernie Nichols was described as underrated.

On Stevens: He might miss you once, but eventually, "you'll be doing three somersaults through the air."
On Nichols: "He's one of the best open-ice hitters in the league," according to one player. "He hurts people."

Top defensive defencemen: Forwards cited Bourque, Stevens, Kevin Lowe and Mike Ramsey among the best.

Best cornermen: Messier, Neely, Bob Probert, and Mike McPhee.

On Messier: "A lot of people are petrified of him," said one player.

Top shooters: Al MacInnis is cited as having the hardest slapshot. No surprise. Bourque, Mike Gartner, Doug Wilson, Jari Kurri and Wendel Clark are also feared. Wayne Gretzky is described as an army unto himself.
"He's got an arsenal," says one goalie (of Gretzky). "He has a deceivingly strong slapshot. Plus he's tricky. He shoots off the front foot or back foot and has lots of velocity."

Strongest players: Tim Kerr was cited as the strongest player. Others mentioned are Dave Andreychuk, Mark Messier, Mario Lemeiux, Ray Bourque and Larry Playfair.

Most underrated: McPhee, Jimmy Carson, Luc Robitaille, Dave Taylor and Steve Yzerman.

On Taylor: "...who has scored the quietest 347 goals in history..." THN

Whiners: This one might not be the most applicable, but it might be the most surprising. Dale Hawerchuk was cited as the biggest complainer in the league by the officials. Dino Ciccarelli was listed in Hawerchuk's class. Gretzky was viewed as maturing, but still sarcastic at times. Others who were cited included Brian Bellows, Rick Vaive, Bernie Federko, Kevin Dineen, Aaron Broten, Borje Salming, and the two big surprises: Neal Broten and Ron Francis.

Quotable on Neal and Aaron Broten: "I have a five-year-old daughter who doesn't wine as much."

Dirty players: Again, not necessarily applicable, but fun to look back. Players absolutely savage Salming on this one. Others who get flack: Brian Propp, Claude and Jocelyn Lemiux, Frantisek Musil, Esa Tikkanen, Tomas Sandstrom, Laurie Boschman, Chris Chelios, Shawn Burr, Ken Linseman, Gary Nylund, Rick Tocchet, Ron Hextall, Garth Butcher and Pat Verbeek.

"When you're a European and you hit, you're consider a cheap-shot," said one coach. "Take the Swedish name off and he's a good player who hits."
"He may be the most hated guy in the league," says one opponent of Chelios, who apparently joins Verbeek in representing the most aggravating of combinations: a cheap-shot yapper.

Frequent divers: The Lemieuxs - Mario and Claude - Ciccarelli, Gretzky, Tony Tanti and (believe it or not) Bourque are prime offenders.

On Mario Lemieux: "Mario is not a good diver," says one ref. "It's easy to tell with him because he just falls down. And he's so big you don't believe it."
On Claude Lemieux: "He should have been in a Rambo movie," says a referee. "He looks like he's been shot with an M-16. He'll go into his routine. On occasion, it's legitimate, but he does it so often you can't give him the benefit of the doubt."
On Ray Bourque: "He's the smartest diver," says one (ref). "He uses the psychological approach. He knows when to do it. If he's around his own goal and is marginally tugged, and the opposition gains possession, he'll go down. He's very cagey."

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