Poll: NHL players weigh in on best players, worst places to play, greatest fans

The NHL Players Association released the results of its annual Player Poll on Wednesday. During the first half of this season, over 500 NHL players were surveyed on more than 20 hockey-related questions on a variety of subjects -- from player talent evaluation, to coaches, officials, arenas, teams and on-ice matters.

The annual poll results give fans some data and insight into a various perceptions across the league.

As far as players go, Connor McDavid was a big winner. The 21-year-old Edmonton Oilers captain and reigning MVP was voted as the league's fastest skater by his peers in a landslide, taking home 81 percent of the votes. In addition, almost half the league (48.6 percent) voted him as the most desirable player to start a franchise around.

To no surprise, Sidney Crosby was also a name that fared quite well. The Penguins captain was voted as the most difficult player to play against, the best team player, the best role model, and the active player best-suited to become a coach after he's done playing. Crosby, who has won three Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals, was also selected as the one player you'd want on your team if you had to win one game. 

In other categories, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens was voted the most difficult goalie to score on. The Senators' Erik Karlsson was voted as the league's most difficult defenseman to play against. Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves was named the league's toughest player by a wide margin, earning 44.7-percent of votes. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom led voting as the league's most underrated player with 8.6-percent of votes, though Jaden Schwartz (6.8-percent), Nikita Kucherov (6.2-percent) and Aleksander Barkov (6.0-percent) weren't far behind.

Despite the Chicago Blackhawks' struggles this year, Joel Quenneville was still named as the coach players would most like to play for, earning 16.5 percent of votes.

Being a referee is often a thankless job, but Wes McCauley is clearly an overwhelming favorite among the league's current players. McCauley was named the NHL's best official by nearly half the league, earning 47.8 percent of votes. (He's probably the runaway favorite of fans at home thanks to his often overly dramatic antics, as well.)

Montreal's Bell Centre edged out Chicago's United Center as players' favorite rink to play in and was also voted the rink with the best ice. The Florida Panthers' home ice at BB&T Center was voted the league's worst playing surface. Chicago Blackhawks fans were voted as the league's best, which is an interesting result considering last month's incident in Chicago involving Devante Smith-Pelly.

If you'd like to dive into the full results of the poll, you can head here.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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