Quenneville, Hawks fans rank high in NHLPA poll
Perk up, Blackhawks fans.
Even though your team isn't going to reach the postseason, players around the league still gave high marks to Joel Quenneville and … you -- the rabid, screaming, passionate fan who fills the United Center game after game.
In a poll released by the NHLPA on Wednesday, Quenneville was voted the coach players would most like to play for. He received 16.5 percent of 267 votes. After Quenneville came Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper (14.2), Vegas' Gerard Gallant (11.6), Toronto's Mike Babcock (7.5) and Nashville's Peter Laviolette (4.9).
Asked why he won, Quenneville deadpanned: "I'm getting too soft."
Patrick Kane had a more serious answer when approached at his locker stall after practice Wednesday.
"He's one of those guys you want to go out and battle for," Kane said. "He's very generous with giving players time away from the rink, and when it's time to be at the rink, he wants to work and do things quick and get out of here. …
"He just really has a good feel for the players, how to control things on the bench and how to motivate players. I'm not surprised by that at all."
Hawks fans were selected best in the league, garnering 30.4 percent of the 372 votes. Nashville, Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg rounded out the top five.
"I'm happy to call Chicago home these days," Kane said. "It's a great place to play no matter what sport, specifically hockey now with what we've done in the past 10 years. The fans keep getting better and better."
Some of the other poll results:
• Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby won best role model, most difficult forward to play against and best team player.
• The Hawks' Jonathan Toews came in second for best team player and best role model.
• The Hawks' Patrick Kane finished in third in most difficult forward to play against.
• Montreal's Carey Price was voted most difficult goalie to score on (41 percent). The Kings' Jonathan Quick came in second.
• Montreal's Bell Centre was voted best arena (24.8 percent). The United Center came in second (21.9) and Madison Square Garden third (14.6).
Darling on Crawford:
Scott Darling, who will start for Carolina against the Blackhawks at the United Center on Thursday, said he has spoken with good friend Corey Crawford lately. Crawford has been on injured reserve since Dec. 27 with an upper-body injury believed to be head related.
"It's really tough. I feel for him," Darling said. "He's such a competitor. He's such a great goalie, great person. He was amazing to me. Hopefully he's going to be back soon.
"It goes to show what an incredible goalie he is and has been for this organization. He goes down and (you) see the team not doing as well as they want to be."
Artem Anisimov missed practice Wednesday, but coach Joel Quenneville said he's fine. … J-F Berube will start in net vs. Carolina. Berube has stopped 75 of 77 shots in his last two starts at the United Center.