Player poll: Quebec City most deserving of NHL team, fighting belongs in game

TORONTO – Quebec City is the Canadian locale most deserving of an NHL team while both fighting and the instigator rule have a place in the game, according to a poll of the league’s players.

The Quebec capital received support from 53 per cent of the 318 respondents queried by the NHL Players’ Association and CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Winnipeg was second at 25 per cent, followed by a second Toronto team at 16 per cent, and a Hamilton squad at five per cent in poll results announced Sunday.

Meanwhile, 98 per cent of those polled didn’t want fighting abolished from the sport. And 66 per cent of players felt the instigator rule shouldn’t be removed, either.

The questions were drawn up by the NHLPA and “Hockey Night in Canada.” The union then circulated the questionnaire and compiled the answers before sharing results with the CBC.

The results may help buoy Quebec City, which is pushing for a new arena in the hopes of luring back the NHL. Winnipeg has a building ready and had been linked as a possible destination for the Phoenix Coyotes.

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Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie earlier tried to purchase the Coyotes out of bankruptcy and move them to a refurbished Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, while some groups have expressed interest in bringing a second NHL team to Toronto.

In other matters, Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby was chosen as the player to start a new franchise with, New York Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik was voted both the best and fastest skater, while Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara was chosen as the player with the hardest shot.

Ron Wilson of the Toronto Maple Leafs was the coach players wanted least to play for with 24 per cent of the vote, while Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, at 21 per cent, was the coach players most wanted to play for.

The New York Islanders at 27 per cent were picked as the team players would least like to play on, followed by the Edmonton Oilers at 20 per cent.