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Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby favourites again in annual NHLPA poll

In this Nov. 2, 2019, file photo, Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) and Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) skate during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh. .
In this Nov. 2, 2019, file photo, Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) and Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) skate during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh. . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is still regarded as the NHL’s top forward, while peers consider Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby the game’s most complete player.

When it comes to game-day dress code, hockey players overwhelming favour relaxing the rule requiring a suit and tie, according to the results of the NHL Players’ Association’s annual poll of players released Tuesday.

Players voted 411 to 152 in favouring the NHL adopt the NBA’s dress-code policy, which requires players wearing “business or conservative attire” when arriving at and leaving a game.

The NHLPA said 588 players participated in the 21-question poll, which covered topics involving skills, arenas, teams and off-ice fun. That category ranged from who they considered the league’s best golfer (Dallas’ Joe Pavelski) to the top player to follow on social media (New Jersey’s P.K. Subban).

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This is the third consecutive year the NHLPA has conducted the poll, though not all the categories — including the dress-code question — have been the same. The results were released while the NHL’s season has been suspended and players asked to self-isolate because of the new coronavirus.

McDavid was the overwhelming favourite as the league’s top forward. He received 379 of 555 votes, followed by Crosby (83) and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (37). The results were similar to last year’s poll.

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Crosby finished first in two other categories, including the league’s most complete player. The Penguins captain received 230 of 506 votes, beating out Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (129), Florida’s Aleksander Barkov (38) and St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly (27).

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With 224 votes (68 more than McDavid), Crosby also topped the list of who players would want on their team when needing to win one game.

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Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman was selected the top defenceman for a second straight year with 196 votes, 85 more than Washington’s John Carlson.

Montreal’s Carey Price repeated as the league’s top goalie with 214 votes, 127 ahead of Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.

And Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin got 198 votes to edge out America’s Hilary Knight (180) as the world’s best female hockey player. America’s Kendal Coyne Schofield (77) finished third. That’s a switch from last year, when Poulin edged out Knight by a little over three percentage points.

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Boston’s Brad Marchand topped the lists for a second consecutive year as both the best and worst trash-talker. Florida defenceman Keith Yandle repeated as the game’s funniest player.

Wayne Gretzky was the top vote-getter in the new category of which player, past or present, players would pay to see play. Gretzky received 155 of 485 votes, followed by Bobby Orr (73), Mario Lemieux (45) and McDavid (38).

Montreal’s Bell Centre was voted as having the best ice for a third consecutive year, followed by Edmonton’s Rogers Place and Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place. Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena finished fourth, having the best ice among U.S.-based teams.

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Players were split on whether they’d prefer customizing their skates, helmets or sticks to show off their personalities. Only 53 per cent of the 529 players who voted favoured the option, with nearly 44 per cent of those choosing custom skates.

When it comes to mascots, the Philadelphia Flyers’ Gritty was the runaway favourite for a second straight year. Gritty received 273 of 393 votes, finishing ahead of Nashville’s Gnash and Arizona’s Howler, who got 11 votes each.