March 06, 2007

My favorite active player

Here at Legends of Hockey Network, I only profile retired players. Today I'm going to break from that format and comment on my favorite active players. By doing so I will answer one of the most frequently asked questions I receive - who is Joe Pelletier's favorite player today?

Why am I deciding to do this now? Because my favorite player to watch nowadays made a rare appearance in Vancouver against my Canucks on Tuesday night. Who is he? A man who needs no introduction:

Vincent Lecavalier, to me, is the most beautiful and artistic player to watch today. When he's on, which is most nights now for the maturing star, he is so graceful, so effortless. After much prodding by coach John Tortorella, Lecavalier seems to understand not only how good he could be, but understand how to be that good. On more nights than not, Lecavalier threatens to put on a show to remember. More and more commonly he delivers, the best of which are shown below in the YouTube insert.

His mannerisms and presence really do remind of Jean Beliveau and even Mario Lemieux, two players he personally idolized and most often draws comparisons to. The things he can do with the rubber disc are prodigious. He is every bit as dynamic as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, two others who draw high interest from me these days. He's simplified his game in that he no longer seems pre-occupied with making spectacular his routine, and by doing so his routine has become spectacular.

Yet he is more than just amazing skill. He has a true passion for hockey artistry, a passion that is now fully focussed and directed. He's got all the physical tools and enjoys using his body to its fullest extent, usually to protect the puck. Everyonce in a while though Lecavallier will attempt to set the tone for his teammates and for a playoff series by dropping the gloves in a headline battle. In 2004 he took on Jarome Iginla, and in 2006 he battled with Zdeno Chara.

Crowning Lecavalier as my favorite current player was certainly no easy task. I truly do try to appreciate every NHL player for what he is worth, and try to educate myself fully. Therefore I have countless favorite players in the league.

I kept asking myself - if I could only watch one Canucks game all season, who would I want the opposition to be. The answer that always came back to me was Lecavalier's Lightning, and Scott Niedermayer's Ducks. Niedermayer patrols the more physical back end with incredible skill, and can control the flow of a game almost singlehandedly. But I gave Lecavalier the edge because of his exciting goal scoring exploits.

I could not possibly list every one of the players I enjoy watching. But there's just a few more I'd like to give props to. At this stage I'm going to exclude all the superstars that are obvious - it should go without saying that they are to be appreciated, and the list would be far too long. Instead, I'll dedicate this space and time to acknowledge the slightly less appreciated though by no means any less valuable second tier stars and role players:

Matt Lombardi, Calgary; Sergei Zubov, Dallas; Jere Lehtinen, Dallas; Ethan Moreau, Edmonton; Jason Smith, Edmonton; Martin Gelinas; Florida; Brian Rolston; Minnesota; Chris Neil, Ottawa; Nolan Pratt, Tampa Bay; Tomas Kaberle, Toronto; Daniel & Henrik Sedin, Vancouver.

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