February 24, 2009
My picks, in summary:
Coach: Mike Babcock, Anaheim Ducks/Detroit Red Wings
You can check out the justifications (both pithy and semi-serious) over on CLtS; but in fairness to one of our favorite punching bags here, I figured I'd reprint my defense of ... gulp ... Chris Pronger as one of the two defensemen of the decade.
Yes, he's a human suspension machine that somehow has thus avoided mandatory anger management. Yes, his egotistical (or cuckolded, depending on what you believe) departure from Edmonton was insulting. Yes, he looks like a goon for a Swedish Bond villain.
But he's also one of the most physically gifted players in the NHL; a rare combination of physical play, solid skating and offensive flourish. He's also a workhorse, averaging over 27 minutes per night in most of his seasons this decade.
This slot on the team comes down to Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. Nieds is a better offensive player, a better technical defenseman and has better intangibles. But you have to admit that, love him or hate him, Pronger put that Oilers team that made the Cup finals on his back in a way few defensemen have in the last 20 years. That was astonishing, and probably Conn-worthy even in defeat.
I feel dirty. I'd like to add that the center spot was a real revelation; I wanted to make the argument for Vinny Lecavalier, but honestly Thornton's numbers are absolutely silly.
Based on the categories listed above, we'd love to read your "All-Decade Team" selections in the comments. Should Jaromir Jagr replace Ovie? Does anyone trump Marty in goal?
If nothing else, this exercise is a stark reminder that it is in fact 2009, and we're less than 365 days away from a swarm of monoliths fully engulfing Jupiter. (/ Arthur C. Clarke'd!)