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Is Dion Phaneuf the Most Overrated Player In the NHL?




PHOTO: mapleleafs.com

In a recent and anonymous poll by Sports Illustrated, Dion Phaneuf was voted the most overrated player in the Nation Hockey League. The poll was anonymous and was taken by 161 NHL players. Here's how the top fifteen rounded out:

  1. Dion Phaneuf
  2. Alex Ovechkin
  3. Scott Gomez
  4. Roberto Luongo
  5. Dany Heatley
  6. Ilya Kovalchuk
  7. Vincent Lecavalier
  8. Jay Bouwmeester
  9. Ryan Kesler
  10. Mike Komisarek
  11. Chris Pronger
  12. Jerome Iginla
  13. Alexander Semin
  14. Olli Jokinen
  15. Ed Jovanovski

Leafs General Manager Brian Burke summed up the poll nicely. He said "Yes, players dumb enough to participate in polls designed to crap on fellow NHLPA members are not very bright... I am thrilled to have both player (Phaneuf and Komisarek) on my team."

Is it just me or is this whole idea completely ridiculous? Regardless of who was voted number one, Sports Illustrated was looking to start something controversial in order to gain some exposure... And it worked... Most sports fan know or at least have heard of Sports Illustrated, so they're not a name that's trying to get out there, but I don't think I've mentioned their name once in the last 3 years whereas I've mentioned it about 30 times in the last 24 hours.

The term "overrated" is another topic in itself. Its such a vague term that may hold different meaning to different individuals. How does one classify overrated? Is it league wide exposure? Is it stats vs. salary? In this case the poll could be entitled "Which NHL player do you hate playing against", with a few exceptions. 

There are too many inconsistencies with this list. Apart from a few of these players, the rest are some of the elite in the league. Mike Komisarek is definitely an overpaid player. He is a defensive defenseman with almost no offensive upside, but doesn't everybody know that already? Who around the league is rating Mike Komisarek in the same breath as Alex Ovechkin or Chris Pronger? You'd be hard-pressed to find someone that would. So why put him on this list? I have no idea...

Of course, Alexander Ovechkin is the second most overrated player in the league. I don't think anyone would disagree with that... I'm being completely sarcastic of course. This is a player that came into the league as a 19 year old rookie and has pretty much destroyed the league.  He has the most points and awards of any player since the NHL lockout. Last I checked, that makes you a damn good hockey player, far from being overrated.

I do think Dion Phaneuf gets paid a little more than he should. Calgary gave him a large contract, that's not really his fault. If you were in his position would you have said "no thanks, that's too much for me"? There's a reason Calgary's management has been flipped upside down. You think Matt Stajan is running back with a cheque for the 3 million a season he's being overpaid? Then again, Dion Phaneuf has the sixth most points by a defenseman thus far this season. So I'm not sure I really have any ground to stand on when I say he's a little overpaid. He's in some pretty good company with similar contracts. Let's also not forget the intangibles such as his leadership qualities, his desire to win and so forth. Seriously, his face looks like its pregnant and he doesn't complain. He doesn't sit for a game or two. He comes back and plays big minutes, usually around 25 a game.

The 161 players who participated in this poll should feel stupid. Nothing good can come out of calling out your peers to the media. And the list is so bizarre to begin with, I'm questioning whether they just asked Mike Sauer 161 times over and he's still a little confused and bitter after Phaneuf ran him over back in early December. But we'll likely never know who actually participated in the poll. I bet they wouldn't call those players overrated to their respectable faces. Something tells me Pronger would have something to say about that. They're cowards, and Sports Illustrated are cowards for making headlines with such a stupid list. 



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