Your Call: Which current NHL player has the most heart?

Shane McNeil,

2/14/2013 9:30:41 AM

Hockey, more than a lot of other professional sports, is a game of intangibles.

Beyond standard skills like offensive prowess, defensive responsibility, speed and vision, great hockey teams rely on the qualities that can't be statistically quantified such as leadership, grit and heart.

Heart is what can differentiate statistical leaders from Hart Trophy winners, but it can also be the missing element that turns a third-line grinder into a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate.

So, as Valentine's Day comes around once again, we ask: Which NHL player has the most heart?

Is it a player that demonstrates leadership at an early age?

Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby both guided their teams to a Stanley Cup championship before they hit 25 years old. Evgeni Malkin, meanwhile, won the Conn Smythe at the age of 23.

But maybe experience is a better gauge of heart.

Players like Travis Moen and Maxime Talbot have become the kind of character veterans that many general managers see as the difference makers between talented clubs and championship contenders.

Every new Stanley Cup winner brings with it a new story of a player finally getting their moment on top of the hockey world.

Is it a player who has won at every level of his playing career?

Players like Brad Richards and Corey Perry were dominant at the junior level before becoming award-winning NHLers. Do they possess the intangibles that make them elite? Or, is it based exclusively on an exceptional level of skill?

Or perhaps heart is measured by the amount of respect a player commands around the league.

The recent All-Star draft formula has given fans a keen indication of which players are regarded highly amongst their peers.

Players like Zdeno Chara and Daniel Alfredsson – long-time leaders and top performers in their respective cities - were chosen as representatives of the players. While they represented the host city and Stanley Cup champions, few questioned the choices of two highly respected veterans to represent their All-Star classmen.

However, with the first pick Chara ignored national and team loyalties and went for Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk.

Regardless of how you measure heart, it is one of the greatest intangibles that separate the truly great and memorable players from those who simply possessed a high quantity of skill.

So which current NHLer has the most heart?

As always, it's Your! Call.