Which NHL player do you begrudgingly admire? (Puck Daddy Roundtable)

Puck Daddy
Which NHL player do you begrudgingly admire? (Puck Daddy Roundtable)
Which NHL player do you begrudgingly admire? (Puck Daddy Roundtable)

The Puck Daddy Roundtable is a semi-frequent debate about a topic, issue or trope. Sometimes it’s Yahoo Sports editors and writers seated at the table; when called for, the seats are filled with insightful guests. Enjoy!  

Some NHL players immediately earn your respect. Some NHL players have to work a little harder to earn it. And then there are some NHL players you end up respecting even if you hate yourself a little bit for doing so.

That got us thinking: Which NHL player do you begrudgingly admire?

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We chewed on that in the latest Puck Daddy Roundtable:

Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor

Marc-Andre Fleury. 

I’ve nestled into being a bit of a MAF apologist in the last couple of years because he was clearly a different goalie under coach Mike Bales. Which is to say competent if perfectly average. And frankly, his reputation was cemented by a couple of the worst playoff performances for a starting goalie in recent memory, which isn’t fair, because he’s dramatically reduced the LOLFleury moments in subsequent years.

But the respect is begrudging respect. For all the talk about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ window to win, and for all the blame passed around because Sid and Geno only have one ring each – lord knows Shero was given his share – you look back at Fleury in 2011-12 (4.63 GAA, .834 save percentage) and Fleury in 2012-13 (3.52 GAA, .883 SV%) and wonder “what if?”

So yeah, it’s not fair to call him a liability today, even though he totally was back when the Penguins’ roster looked like this. Yikes.

Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor

Scott Hartnell.

It goes back to his days with the Philadelphia Flyers and when things were really hot with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hartnell could score you 20-25 goals a year, but he always did stuff on the ice that made you shake your head. Remember when he chucked his glove at Ryan Malone while he was on a breakaway?

But Hurricane Sandy happened and Hartnell spearheaded the organizing of a charity fundraiser in Atlantic City during the 2012 lockout. Covering the event and seeing all that he put into making sure it went off right was astounding; and as someone who lives in an area that was heavily affected by the storm, I was proud and grateful.

Then there was his fun little rivalry with Cy Clark, the Penguins fan who dressed as Hulk Hogan during games. Hartnell was the recipient of Clark's ire, including a memorable exchange during the Flyers-Penguins 2012 playoff season; but when Clark passed away from cancer last year, Hartnell sent out his condolences.

And, finally, how could you not love Hartnell Down?

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 02: Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL preseason game against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 2, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 02: Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL preseason game against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 2, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jen Neale, Puck Daddy Editor

I don't like Shane Doan, but dammit, I respect him. 

He plays in that very gray area between legal and dirty. Just Goggle his name and the word 'discipline.' The sheer number articles on assorted incidents speculating his guilt or innocence is quite amazing. He's played in 1,414 regular season games, scoring 908 points, and he's only been suspended TWICE (since 2000); accruing 1,247 penalty minutes in the process. 

Those 908 points came with a team that was bad more often than it was good in his now-20 seasons with the franchise. A franchise that moved once and might-have-moved countless other times. Doan is one of those players that could have demanded a trade during the turbulence, and most, if not all, teams would have lined up to get him, even when he wasn't scoring as much. He stayed, though, and gave the people of Arizona a reason to watch the team before the arrival of the kids.

Plus, before the mumps became the disease of the moment, Doan suffered from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! Why does that matter? It doesn't. It's just weird.

Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy Editor

Erik Karlsson.

While I don’t believe Karlsson is a great “all-around” defenseman in the traditional sense, I’ve long admired his ability to possess the puck in the offensive zone, create scoring chances and boost his team’s play when he’s on the ice.  TSN’s Travis Yost gave a good take on Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg and by extension, explained Karlsson’s effectiveness as a hockey player.

The ‘begrudgingly’ part has to do with Karlsson’s two Norris Trophy wins, in spite of his meager average penalty kill time on ice. In his two Norris seasons, he averaged 33 seconds per-game on the penalty kill for an award that’s supposed to be given to the defenseman “who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”

He’s also again being talked about as a Norris frontrunner this season.

In his defense, Karlsson didn’t create the definition of the Norris Trophy, nor does he play a role in how it’s handed out. That’s not his fault. He’s a phenomenal offensive talent and someone who makes the Ottawa Senators significantly better team when he’s on the ice. He skates like the wind, and has one of the most creative offensive minds in hockey – even if he’s not the NHL’s best “all-around” defenseman in my opinion.

Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy Columnist

Eric Staal.

He's not very good any more and he's immensely overpaid, but he played for my local AHL team during the lockout and boy was he fun to watch on a line with Chuck Kobasew and Colin Forbes.

Hard not to like him after that. 

But also we've had to listen to talk about how good he is for the last few years without a lot of evidence to support it.

Have a question for us to mull over in the roundtable? Hit us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com.

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