Craig Custance of ESPN conducted a poll of the star players attending the League’s annual media days in New York this week: Who are the three players with whom you’d start an NHL franchise?
To the surprise of no one, the 14 players in the survey indicated that Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was their preference, with Jonathan Toews a distant second. Here's the complete ranking; keep in mind Custance used a points-system assigned to the first, second and third names:
1. Sidney Crosby
2. Jonathan Toews
3. Shea Weber
4. Tuukka Rask
5. Steven Stamkos
6. Jamie Benn
7. Zdeno Chara
8. Zach Parise
9. Claude Giroux
10. Ryan Getzlaf
11. John Tavares
12. Erik Karlsson
13. Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price
14. Nathan MacKinnon
First off, let’s note that these players had one goalie in their top 12, a reminder that not all great hockey players make terrific general managers.
Benn was actually ranked first overall by Sidney Crosby. More amazing is that he’s not represented by Pat Brisson.
But the real fun news here is that Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers is the only honest one of the bunch. Because were he to start a team, Giroux would go with a plucky upstart named … Claude Giroux.
Giroux received one first-place vote -- from Claude Giroux. "I have to believe in myself, no?" Giroux asked. He made a good case for himself this past season, when he strapped the Flyers on his back and took them to the playoffs. In the past three seasons, Giroux has 227 points in 207 games. In 2013-14, on a team that wasn't the best possession team around, he finished with a Corsi for percentage of 53.5 percent, the highest of his career. As he matures, he continues to round out his game.
"When you're a young player, you want to score goals and make some points, but at the end of the day you learn it's not about that," Giroux said. "It's playing the game the right way offensively, defensively. If you do that, that's how you win games."
Granted, some of the players probably declined to select themselves based on principle. Others likely did it based on humility.
Claude Giroux has no time for either concept, and you gotta love that hubris. Who else would continue to circulate Peter Laviolette’s legen-wait for it-dary claim that Claude Giroux is the best player in the world if not for Claude Giroux?