Many times, we often wait until a player announces their retirement before we go back and evaluate their career. We often recognize that there are legends among us, but sometimes fail to acknowledge their significance, impact, and uniqueness. Well I’m going to try and change that over the next few weeks. I’ve selected 10 active players that I feel are unique, significant, and ultimately living legends that will end up in the Hall of Fame. I’ll highlight their career, their special skills, their achievements, and what makes them unique. It’s really the little things that we often take for granted and we don’t really recognize how important it was until that player is gone. For example, Nicklas Lidstrom just announced his retirement this past season from the Detroit Red Wings. We talk about his positioning, his stickwork, and his incredible IQ, but one thing fans in Detroit always took for granted was how easy he made it seem to get his shot through to the net on the powerplay. The Wings powerplay has been atrocious this year, having yet to score a powerplay goal on the road, and a large part of it is that the Wings defensemen are not getting their shots through to the net. That’s just an example of some of the skills I’ll try and highlight during the segment. Stay tuned each Wednesday for the release of the next legend. Below is a list of the 10 living legends we’re going to talk about:
We’ll kick off the segment with one of the most unique players in NHL history – Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk.
TSN’s player poll of the most skilled active players in the NHL has Datsyuk at #1. At 5’11” 198 lbs, Datsyuk isn’t exactly the most intimidating player. Then, when you see him off the rink and he’s bow-legged and pigeon-toed, you wonder how this guy could ever do any damage on an ice rink, let alone the NHL. However, once he puts on his skates, he’s turns into a magician. For Detroit fans, we get excited every time he gets on the ice. But what makes him so special is that he doesn’t need any attention. He’s not a diva like other superstars. He will quietly go about his business – which usually involves destroying the opposition. This quietness however has made it so that a lot of fans of other teams haven’t seen too much of Datsyuk. Sure they see the highlights when he makes SportsCenter’s Top 10, but in reality, every game he could have 2 or 3 plays that would be Top 10. I’m here to speak up for Datsyuk today.
Datsyuk possesses several breath-taking skills, most notably his stick-handling. Let’s start there. I don’t even have words so what I’m going to do is just show you a series of clips of his moves and then I’ll allow you about 30 minutes to pick your jaw up off the floor. We’ll start with some videos on his stick handling.
Next, let’s watch him combine that insane stickhandling with some even niftier goals
Ok have you picked your jaw up off the ground yet? Get ready to put it back on the floor because now let’s take a look at his passing.
Ok I could watch that passing all day, but I’ll stop now. In the NHL we’ve seen players that have some sick moves, some sick passing skills, and the ability to score nice goals. But the talent that really separates Datsyuk from everyone else? It’s his ability to steal the puck from anyone. You absolutely have to know where he is at all times because he will come up behind you and absolutely embarrass you.
That pretty much summarizes why Datsyuk is one of the most incredible players of our generation. But you don’t have to hear it from me. Here are some quotes on Datsyuk from fellow players:
Former teammate and Hall of Famer, Brett Hull: “I grew up playing hockey, my father is Bobby Hull, where does this guy grow up and learn to do these things?”
14-year NHL veteran, Michael Peca: “Greatest puckhandler in the game today.”
6-year NHL veteran, Bobby Ryan: “Far and away the most skilled player I’ve ever seen”
10-year NHL veteran goaltender, Marty Turco: “Sports are like a religion in Detroit, and I don’t think those Detroit fans have seen magic like that since…Barry Sanders…all those moves.”
More from Hull, “This kid is the most skilled human being I’ve ever seen…”
Oh and just in case you needed anything more, I’ll leave you with the results of the NHLPA Player Poll from last year:
Who is the smartest player? 1st – Pavel Datsyuk
Who is the most difficult player to play against? 1st – Pavel Datsyuk
Which player is the hardest to take the puck from? 1st – Pavel Datsyuk
Goalies only: Which player is the most difficult to stop? 1st – Pavel Datsyuk
Who is the toughest forward to play against? 1st – Pavel Datsyuk
Who is the cleanest player to play against? 1st – Pavel Datsyuk
Without a doubt, Pavel Datsyuk is a living legend. Just put your feet up and enjoy him while we still have his magic.
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