ESPN’s John Buccigross, one of the only ESPN folks that I actually like (probably because he likes hockey), came out with a list of the NHL’s top 100 this last week, and he showed some of our Pens some love. Five Penguins showed up on the writer’s list with all 6 being 75 or better, 3 in the top 12 and 2 of the top 3 overall. I didn’t run an overall tally of how many players each team has on the list but I’d have to imagine that 6 would be the mark to beat on this list for a single team.
The breakdown is pretty much who you would expect to be where and is as follows:
Sidney Crosby – 1
Evgeni Malkin – 3
Kris Letang – 12
Marc-Andre Fleury – 31
Jaordan Staal – 55
James Neal – 75
Jonathan Toews slid in between Crosby and Malkin, but Malkin got some extra love as Bucci described him by using this quote, “One guy, all-out, for 60 seconds, to score or set up, with you strapped to an electric chair watching and needing your team to score to save your life? You take Geno.” Well said Bucci, well said indeed.
Letang being so high came as a bit of a shock to me. Not because I don’t think he is a top5 defenseman in hockey, but because I still feel like he has a lot of room to grow as a player. If he is only behind Chara and Weber at his position at this point in his career, then once he reaches his full potential he there is no doubt he will be one of the league’s best overall, let alone at his position.
Fleury got some love as a top goalie behind on Lundqvist of the Rangers. Jordan Staal got some respect he really deserves for being a jack of all trades and James Neal got some love for his break out year as he rounds out the list for the Penguins.
All things considered, it is a very good showing for the team, and I’m glad that they all got a little pat on the back for their efforts. Sure, this is just one person’s perspective but its still nice to see some of the players get some recognition on the national level considering that ESPN as a whole continues to push hockey further and further away from the public eye in favor of their own financial interests (the NBA). I can’t say that I blame them for it but it’s really a shame that’s how its going down because in all honesty, the NHL might be the best run major sports league going in the US right now. It sure isn’t the NFL. The NBA just lost half its season. And don’t get me started on baseball. The MLB spiraled so far out of control years ago that its now beyond fixing. In the NHL, you still have parity. Sure there are perennial favorites but you never know who will be where come the playoffs. Plus, you don’t have the prima donna’s playing hockey like you do in other major sports. Nothing is worse than a full of them-self athlete complaining because he doesn’t make enough. It might happen occasionally in hockey, but not like in other sports. Hockey players play hockey and don’t gripe and complain. They shut up and play and let their play dictate their pay and that I certainly something I can get behind.