I thought I would do a blog on a much more positive note, something we need once in a while, don’t ya think? I want to talk about the underdog players and why they make good ambassadors for the game? I know it’s a purely objective, but I am writing, and you are all wrong if you disagree with me. I know some of them may be slightly obvious, but I might just surprise you with some of my picks.
I love this game, and I really love the underdogs, the players who do the little things that win the games. You know the type the player to sacrifice his body to block a shot., the player to take a hit to get the puck out of the zone. Every team has them, and every team needs them. The little guy that could, for a lack of better term.
So who is on your list of the underdogs? Who does not get the props he deserves? Here are a few of mine. I am sure there are many others that people we could list. The list is in no particular order.
1. Craig Conroy - Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames forward would do anything for his team mates. He kills penalties, will dive in front of shots, and he has taken a pounding all season. Craig has a heart of a champion.
2. Andy Sutton - New York Islanders
Andy is a terrific defensemen, a no-nonsense defensemen who cleans up his own end. Andy has a heart of a champion.
3. Ryan Callahan - New York Rangers
I love this kid. He is a terrific player who can skate, and who can also do the little things. To add onto this, Ryan has some offensive skill. Yes, I do believe he has the heart of a champion.
4. Mike Richards - Philadelphia Flyers
Yes, I know he is not really an underdog, per se. But there is no way you can doubt his heart. Mike does everything for the Flyers. He is Mr. Flyer, if there ever was one. Yes, Mike Richards has a heart of a champion.
5. Brooks Orpik - Pittsburg Penguins
Brooks is a big rugged defenseman, who will do everything that is asked, and then some. Orpik will mess with whomever, hits hard, kills penalties, and does his job. He may not be a fancy player, but he is a soldier. Yes Orpik has a heart of a Champion.
6. John Oduya - New Jersey Devils
Where would the Devils defense be without John? He is a very smart player. He is willing to get his hands dirty (never liked that saying, but it’s right for the situation.) He goes into the corners and is a very good hockey player. John has a heart of a champion.
7. Shawn Thornton - Boston Bruins
Shawn is simply a monster. He will do everything he is asked. He will fight when occasion arises, will hit, and more importantly, is a leader. Shawn has a heart of a champion.
8. Paul Gaustad - Buffalo Sabres
A no-nonsense center, he is picture of a rough player who can do more than just fight. Paul can muck it up, he can score, and he can win that important draw. He can pretty much do everything he is asked to do. Paul has a heart of a champion.
9. Hal Gil - Montreal Canadians
Hal is prototype dman who hits hard and knows his job. He knows what his job is and does it. He reminds me of a construction worker who does all the hard work that no-one wants to do. Hal was a necessity for the Pens’ championship, and he will be a necessity in the success for the Habs. Hal has heart of a champion.
10. Christopher Neil - Ottawa Senators
Chris is awesome. He will stick up for his teammates, and will go into the corners. Chris will dish out as much as he takes. His job is to get under the other teams’ skins, and he does it well. Although you cannot tell by his stats, he is a valuable asset for the Senators. Christopher has a heart of a champion.
11. Niklas Hagman - Toronto Maple Leafs
I was delirious with joy when the Leafs signed Niklas (being a huge Leaf fan.) Just simply because he is a leader. He leads by example, and has some offensive skills. He was a steal by the Leafs in the off-season. Yes, Niklas has a heart of a champion.
12. Colby Armstong - Atlanta Thrashers
I really have to love this kid’s attitude. He has more hustle than I have had in my life. The Thrashers did well to acquire him in the Hossa trade. What makes this kid special is that he puts out 110% every night. Colby has a heart of a champion.
13. Rod Brind A’mour - Carolina Hurricanes.
This vet has won the best defensive player award for a reason. He leads by example, does everything for the team, and puts the team first and himself second. Rod has a heart of a champion.
14. Keith Ballard - Florida Panthers
Keith is a great young dman who has been pretty solid for a couple of years. With the Jbo trade, Keith becomes the number one defensemen on the team. With that comes a lot of responsibility. He showed a lot last season and I am sure he will continue to do so. Keith has a heart of a champion.
15. Paul Ranger - Tampa Bay Lightening
Paul is a monster on defense. I have no idea where this team would be without him. He does everything that is asked of him. He is a great shot and hits well. Tampa relies on him for everything, and he usually comes through. Paul has the heart of a champion.
16. Chris Clark. - Washington Capitals
I knew Chris from Calgary. He is an awesome player who does everything by example. Chris would never ask anything that he would not do himself. Everyone says Alex is the leader of the Capitals. I beg to differ. Chris has a heart of a champion.
17. Dustin Byfuglien - Chicago Black Hawks
Dustin hits with the best stands in front of the net and takes a beating. He has a terrific shot, and true enough gets his share of garbage goals. Dustin can duke it out to protect his team mates, Dustin has a heart of a champion.
18. Mike Commadore - Columbus Blue Jackets
Mike is a no-nonsense defenseman who will sacrifice every part of his body for his team. He is one of the true good guys in the NHL. He does everything within his power. legal or illegal, to ensure his team wins. Mike has the heart of a champion.
19 Kris Draper - Detroit Red Wings
I love this guy. He is a true gentleman, who constantly goes into the corner and digs the puck out. Kris is one of the best penalty killers in the League. He is a Selkie candidate every year. Kris has the heart of a champion.
20. Jordin Tootoo - Nashville Predators
I can’t stand this guy, but guess that’s because he is not on my team. He knows exactly his role and he does it well. I do not know any better agitator than Jordin. He enjoys his job, and you can tell he does. Jordin has a heart of a champion.
21. Dan Hinote - St Louis Blues.
Has has always been a soldier in the League, always doing his job. Dan is the spark plug that will clear the zone or take a hit make the play. You may never know what he did by his stats, but you know his teammates know who he is. Dan has a heart of a champion.
22. Adam Foote - Colorado Avalanche
Adam has been an all-star on team Canada for years, and is one of the best defensive defensemen I have ever witnessed. He was outstanding at blocking shots, killing penalties and dishing out hits. Adam has a heart of a champion.
23. Eathan Moreau – Edmonton Oilers
If there is a better 3 line forward, I would like to know who he is. Eathan is a leader on the ice; he leads by example. He kills penalties, he blocks shots, he sweats and bleeds Oilers blue. He breaths Edmonton and he lives Edmonton. Eathan has a heart of a champion.
24. Owen Nolan - Minnesota Wild
It this guy could play 365 days a year. Just because he does not play a full season, do not doubt this man’s heart. I seen him play here in Calgary. I miss him. I miss his intensity and his willingness to go the extra mile. Owen has a heart of a champion.
25. Alexandre Burrows - Vancouver Canucks
Super pest to the max, and he scores the big goal. Alexandre’s main job is to get in the minds of the opposition, and he does just that. The Canucks need Burrows to be successful. Heck, every teams needs a Burrows. Alexandre has a heart of a champion.
26. George Parros - Anaheim Ducks
I know I will get a lot of flack for this one, but I hate to tell you, he is a valuable asset to the Ducks. George always put energy out there. He does his job. He lifts his team when he is out there. Yes, George has a heart of a champion.
27. Steve Ott - Dallas Stars
Steve is a defensive, in-your-face centerman. The kind that will put his defense first, offense second. Steve is a hockey player that will put his team first, himself second. Steve has a heart of a champion.
28. Denis Gauthier - Los Angeles Kings
I really do not know anyone that hits harder than Denis. Every hit gives his team a lift. He was a Flames player favorite while here in Calgary for that reason. Denis is a leader with his hits. Denis has a heart of a champion.
29. Viktor Tikhonov - Phoenix Coyotes
Vitkor is an awesome young player who plays like he enjoys the game. He is fast, plays it rough, and likes getting his hands dirty. He sticks up for his players, and scores the odd goal. Viktor has a heart of a champion.
30. Jeremy Roenick - San Jose Sharks
What I like about Jeremy most is the fact that he was a superstar, and in order to continue his career, he adjusted to becoming a role player. That takes a lot of talent, but it speaks of his character, stating that he is willing to do what it takes to win. Jeremy has the heart of a champion.