The Athletic covers hockey

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There have been lots of various Athletic links over the years, here's a thread where some of the great reads hopefully won't get buried in other random threads.
And if you're thinking of subscribing (you should!) they're still doing the "refer a friend, they get 40% off, you get a $25 card" so if you want to pm me... We can even take turns doing it so I'm not too greedy.
 

The Napkin

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Great read on what Jagr is currently up to:



“Even at away games, there’s always a crowd, always people lined up waiting to see him,” says Kladno defenseman Brendon Nash, who played two games with the Montreal Canadiens nearly a decade ago. “Last year, I knew some guys on other teams, and they had no fans all year, except for when we were there. When Jagr was playing, it was a sold-out game.”
Those things matter to Jagr now. His duties as club owner weigh on him far more heavily than that 45-pound vest ever has. He’s always spent seemingly all day at the rink, but instead of his legendary 1,000 squats a day, it feels like he’s making 1,000 phone calls a day. He’s not an owner in name only, merely the money behind the team.
He’s actually running it.
“I do everything,” he says. “Everything. Absolutely everything. I’m trying to run everything, absolutely everything.”
Even payroll?
“Everything. Everything.”
 

The Napkin

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Probably more special to me than most here but...


The Canadiens tried to trade places with the Penguins. Most teams tried. Johnston says Minnesota dangled all 12 of its draft picks. The Quebec Nordiques offered the three Stastny brothers and a first-rounder. Johnston held fast. Trading a first-rounder the previous year had cost the Penguins Pat Lafontaine, who had defeated Mario in the QMJHL scoring race the previous year. (Mario would find revenge years later by chasing down Lafontaine to win Art Ross Trophy in 1993 after returning from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.)
“I had some terrific offers,” Johnston says, recalling a conversation he had with then-Penguins owner Edward DeBartolo, “but I had told Mr. DeBartolo that I was not trading it. I said, ‘A player like this comes along once in a lifetime.’”
The Penguins planned to draft Mario, then pray he signed a contract.
 

The Napkin

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ROAD TRIP!


Hockey season is upon us at last, which means it’s time to start planning those trips to see your favourite team in action on the road. Been dying to see this city, or that part of North America? To climb into an intimate bubble with a couple of buddies to escape the workaday drudgery for a little while? If it feels real, do it.
But once you’ve made it to Buffalo, or Columbus, or Dallas, what happens next? More to the point: where are you going to eat?
To that end, here is the first edition of The Athletic’s NHL Food and Drink Travel Guide. Because if there’s one thing hockey reporters love at least as much as the game they cover, it’s ferreting out cool spots for food and libation in the cities they travel to. What follows is a compendium of the places we’ve discovered over the years.


For the record, here's Boston :
It’s always fun to ship back up to Boston, where there is an abundance of great places to find proper sustenance. If you’re a reporter, the journey begins in the Bruins’ home rink. The TD Garden actually has a decent pre-game meal in the bowels of the building – it’s comfortably in the top third of the NHL – and stands apart thanks to the incredible dessert cart that’s set up in the press box.

The Bruins’ kitchen also mirrors the club itself: they raise their game in the postseason. If the Bs make the Conference Final, or better yet the Cup Final, the commissary has been known to break out the lobster and shrimp platters. And why not, really? Whenever they play the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs, one gets the sense the Bruins are eager to take the historical rivalry beyond the ice and into the kitchens. It’s pretty great, but let’s not kid ourselves, you’ll find the best eats a little further afield.

To hoist a couple: There are tons of pubs throughout Boston, each neighbourhood has no shortage of options. For hockey travel purposes, however, let’s turn to the Bell in Hand Tavern, a 200-year-old spot a stone’s throw from Faneuil Hall. The joint bills itself as the oldest tavern in the Americas, and it’s touristy. But it’s also a microcosm of the Boston experience for those who don’t get to the city often. A few doors down you’ll find Hennessy’s, where beat writers have been known to have a good time. For something entirely different, you can try Alibi at the Liberty Hotel, a place built inside an old penitentiary. It’s very trendy, and absolutely gorgeous. Be warned, it’s a bit pricier than your average bar.

To watch the game: There are tons of sports bars in and around TD Garden, but our choice is The Fours, notably for the quality of its pub grub. It’s a hugely popular spot, needless to say. There are also multiple options near Fenway Park like the Baseball Tavern, Tony C’s and the Cask ‘n Flagon. They’ll have the game on, and likely more than one.

To grab a quick bite: If you’re catching a game early in the season, or toward the end of the schedule and into the playoffs, the odds are strong you’ll have a beautiful sunny afternoon and the option of eating al fresco. It’s the perfect time for a lobster roll, and one of the all-time classics can be purchased at James Hook & Co., on Atlantic Avenue. Up near Boston Common, Sam LaGrassa’s sandwich shop doesn’t look like much, but it’s a go-to spot. It’s a venerable institution, and it’s only open at lunch time. If you have a sweet tooth get thee to the North End, Boston’s Little Italy, where you’ll find the legendary Mike’s Pastry. You’ll need to walk it off, but there’s lots of interesting places to see at the waterfront nearby.

To eat a proper dinner: We just talked about the North End, which is crawling with Italian eateries. Hockey fans will doubtless be drawn to Tresca, owned by former Bruins defenceman Ray Bourque (you may run across him there, in fact). But the number one, beat-writer approved Italian place isn’t in the North End, it’s just south of Boston Common. We’re talking about Davio’s. You’ll find pasta on the menu, but really it’s all about the meat. It’s not cheap, but you need to be prepared to get your wallet out in Boston. If you head up Boylston toward Copley Square, you’ll find a pair of places that seem to be targeting the same clientèle. The Atlantic Fish Company is . . . well, a fish and seafood house. But it also serves a great steak. Two doors down you have Abe & Louie’s, a steakhouse that does a mean fish. You can’t go wrong with Abe & Louie’s, but the Atlantic Fish Company has our vote as the best seafood restaurant in the NHL. Absolutely everything is delicious, starting with the crab cakes and the scallop platter. Again, it puts a hefty dent in the ol’ per diem, but it’s totally worth it.
 

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I learn multiple things from pretty much every Justin Bourne article.

The Athletic easily has the best and most comprehensive hockey coverage on the planet.
 

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Cross posting from the game thread, but for Bruins related content, Fluto, Joe McDonald and Billy Jaffe have started Bruins podcast on The Athletic. They plan on having 2 episodes per week, one free and one behind the paywall. I like all 3, particularly Jaffe, first episode was a good season preview.

Also the subscription gets you access to everything. National writers like Bourne, LeBrun, etc and then all the team beat writers who are all excellent too.
 

The Napkin

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Agreed, it's phenomenal coverage. They also seem to have revitalized Fluto as a hockey writer. For example:


“It doesn’t look like it could hurt anything,” Richard Pelletier, professor of Graduate Transportation Systems & Design at ArtCenter College of Design, said of a typical ice resurfacer. “It’s very meek. That’s an important part of the impression you get. It’s not going to hurt anybody. It’s a neat, little, magical thing that heals the ice. It’s humming along. It doesn’t make a lot of noise. And there’s the mystery: ‘How does it do that?’ You don’t see it. You don’t know from looking at it. At first read, from the 200-yards-away view, you think there’s something mystical about it. It just magically heals the ice. It’s like some sort of beast of burden. It’s a Dr. Seuss-kind of an impression.”
Of course, Pelletier was describing a Zamboni.
 

The Napkin

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This marks Year 3 for the ol’ NHL demographics post here at The Athletic.
This piece is meant to be an annual snapshot of what the best players in hockey look like in several basic biographical metrics. You can find the data from the last two years here and here, although be warned that the methodology was slightly different in 2017-18.
The 632 players in my sample here include every skater and goalie who appeared in a minute (or more) of action as of last weekend.
 

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The thing about gifted finishers is how they fish multiple goal-scoring clubs from their bags. Goalies and defenses can key on one-dimensional scorers who rely on go-to weapons, be they one-timers or backhanders or snappers.
Against Anaheim, Pastrnak demonstrated his ability to score in multiple ways, which is part of what makes him such a lethal attacker. Like a snowflake, no two of Pastrnak’s goals were alike.
 

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Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket, is the most electrifying professional athlete ever to represent the city of Vancouver.
Mobbed by fans during the peak years of “Pavelmania” and shrouded by near-constant controversy, Bure, now 48, is still an enigma. He’s the most discussed, dissected and scrutinized player in the athletic history of Canada’s Pacific Northwest and still, he remains poorly understood.
 

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I’m gonna come out swinging here: you’re taping your stick wrong. It’s impossible for that to be objectively true – it’s subjective as hell, really – but I’m here to tell you that from my point of view, you really do tape your stick wrong (unless you’re taping it right, in which case, you can ignore this article).
Let’s look at the tape job options, discuss the pros and cons and consider how I’ve arrived at the perfect tape job, which is obviously a full heel-to-toe (covered toe), white tape, half-rip, progression wax from bottom to top. As an every-period stick taper, I’m here to report that if you don’t put on a fresh tape job each game – even you rec leaguers – you should feel shame.
 

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Earlier in his career, Pastrnak was more of an in-close scorer. When it came to the one-timer, he would either unleash a lethal shot or he would completely fan on his attempt. There was no in-between. Yet his one-timer has become more dependable and his latest performance is a perfect example of it.
Believe it or not, street hockey is one reason his one-timer has become so deadly. During a conversation with Pastrnak two seasons ago, he admitted as much. He loves to play street hockey (ball hockey to some) and that’s how he believes he developed his one-timer.
 

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Great article. As a kid and in adult leagues I tried not to obsess about tape jobs. I would tape the middle third of the blade only since that's where the puck was. I hope they follow up with how to tape your knob. Pun intended.
 

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A goaltender reaching 500 career NHL games is equivalent to a position player making it to his 1,000th.
It’s quite an accomplishment.
On Tuesday, Tuukka Rask is set to reach that milestone against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that traded him to the Bruins in exchange for Andrew Raycroft on June 24, 2006.
To mark the occasion, we gathered the principals in the trade — Gorton, then-Leafs GM John Ferguson (who’s now an assistant GM in Boston), Rask and Raycroft — to examine the deal and its impact.
 

The Napkin

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I spend way too much time watching clips of NHL action from decades past.
You probably already figured that out, especially if you’re a reader of the Friday Grab Bag and its weekly way-too-detailed delve into the archives. Maybe the book about NHL history tipped you off. If we’ve ever spoken in person, you may have noticed my ability to steer literally any given topic of conversation into a reference to a mid-80s NHL game within minutes. I’m told that my wife has.
The point is that I’ll often find myself making what I think will be a quick trip over to YouTube to grab a recent highlight or rewatch a play that’s in the news. Next thing I know, an hour has gone by, I’ve forgotten what I came there for in the first place, and I’m watching some dude’s grainy recording of a Jets/Oilers game from 1987. If you’ve got a rip of a novelty VHS blooper tape from 1991, I’m in. I’ve watched the “All Heart” montage so many times that I recently heard Hero of the Day on the radio and got legitimately confused when Bob Cole and Joe Bowen didn’t start calling goals during the guitar solo.
 

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Toews turned the screen to Drake Caggiula in the next locker stall, and the two huddled together. On it was a glimpse into a different life. One with fewer late-night flights and 3 a.m. bedtimes. One with fewer one-off trips to Winnipeg and home-and-homes with Colorado. One in which the Blackhawks wouldn’t make three separate trips to New York to play teams that reside within 20 miles of each other. One in which players were more rested, healthier and playing a better brand of hockey.
This is the life Toews envisions. This is the improved NHL he dreams of.
A completely reimagined schedule was his idea, and he was seeing it in black and white (and red and blue) for the first time.
 

TFP

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Did you read the article? It says to play your season series against the same opponent in one shot.

Logically it's very interesting and would definitely be better for the players, but the league (and NBC) would never sign off on it.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Once a puck goes in, television’s first zoom-in is on the goal scorer. The second is usually of the scored-upon goalie.
In that shot, there’s a good chance the goalie is pulling on his water bottle.
That's a really great article, I had no idea about a lot of that stuff. I didn't realize, for example, that Rask take off the upper body pads during intermissions, I would think it would be too awkward and clumsy to always be doing so. Of course all of my hockey that I played was rec league stuff where we just hung out on the bench between periods, so I wouldn't have know that if it was typical.
 

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Torey Krug has two babies: daughter Saylor, born in June, and the No. 1 power-play unit.
So you can understand why Krug sounds like a proud father, even if it pertains to Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk, his adopted man-advantage offspring.
 

The Napkin

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They're also doing a week of articles on hockey "culture" that look like they'll be great.

Twice before, we’ve rolled out a slate of hockey stories centered around one particular topic, aiming to cover that topic from just about every angle. The first focused on the future of the game. The second delved into concussions. And for this particular package, we actually struggled a bit with what to name it.
The original idea was “culture,” as in the many nuances, idiosyncrasies and fascinating practices within the NHL and hockey community at large. In practice, once we started brainstorming pieces, we learned that “culture” was such a broad, all-encompassing word, that our story ideas were all over the map.
Some of the pieces conceived were light-hearted, fun and humorous. Some were more sober, stark and probing. In the end, we realized that is indeed the best way to look at hockey culture, because while it is in so many ways wonderful and amusing and just a little bit weird; there are also ways in which hockey culture can be insular, homogenous and protectionist.



The first one is:


It was the spring of 2006 and Brock McGillis was sitting in his apartment in The Hague, Netherlands, depressed and reflecting on how a promising career had come to this. He was overseas, isolated, battling injuries on a near-constant basis, and supremely unhappy. For someone who was expecting a linear path to the NHL, his dream had taken a sharp divergence.
The then-22-year-old goaltender was practical about what he felt were his prospects:
“I was likely to end up dead,” McGillis said. “You can’t drink almost daily, (with) that much depression and that (many) attempts at suicide, without it eventually catching up to you. I think it was inevitable I was going down that path.”
 

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They're also doing a week of articles on hockey "culture" that look like they'll be great.

Twice before, we’ve rolled out a slate of hockey stories centered around one particular topic, aiming to cover that topic from just about every angle. The first focused on the future of the game. The second delved into concussions. And for this particular package, we actually struggled a bit with what to name it.
The original idea was “culture,” as in the many nuances, idiosyncrasies and fascinating practices within the NHL and hockey community at large. In practice, once we started brainstorming pieces, we learned that “culture” was such a broad, all-encompassing word, that our story ideas were all over the map.
Some of the pieces conceived were light-hearted, fun and humorous. Some were more sober, stark and probing. In the end, we realized that is indeed the best way to look at hockey culture, because while it is in so many ways wonderful and amusing and just a little bit weird; there are also ways in which hockey culture can be insular, homogenous and protectionist.



The first one is:


It was the spring of 2006 and Brock McGillis was sitting in his apartment in The Hague, Netherlands, depressed and reflecting on how a promising career had come to this. He was overseas, isolated, battling injuries on a near-constant basis, and supremely unhappy. For someone who was expecting a linear path to the NHL, his dream had taken a sharp divergence.
The then-22-year-old goaltender was practical about what he felt were his prospects:
“I was likely to end up dead,” McGillis said. “You can’t drink almost daily, (with) that much depression and that (many) attempts at suicide, without it eventually catching up to you. I think it was inevitable I was going down that path.”
Thanks Nap for pointing that out. The last line that you quoted hit deeply to me. The whole article is totally worth the read.
 

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Andy Brickley's potty mouth
Who would dare haze that giant of a man?

During the game tonight they mentioned he has been Captain on the Bruins for 14 years. I had to catch my breath. Like holy fucking shit has it been that long? Where has the time gone?

I remember when the loyal group of us suffered through the Dave Lewis era together and birthed this forum. Seems like kinda yesterday kinda not. I've been feeling old today, this didn't help.
 

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TORONTO — The update lasted no more than five minutes and there wasn’t really anything new in it, but the NHL went over the Seattle expansion process yet again.
And what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly made clear yet again during Tuesday’s one-day GMs meeting was threefold:

  1. The Seattle expansion draft rules will be the same as last time with Vegas;
  2. The Golden Knights are exempt from the Seattle expansion process, they won’t need to protect any players, which was agreed to years ago as part of the original Vegas package and also because well, it’s the giveback they get for not getting a slice of that $650-million Seattle expansion fee. (I think Seattle’s launch getting pushed to October 2021 instead of the original plan of October 2020 is part of the reason Vegas still being exempt from the process has a few team executives sour);
  3. The league will carefully monitor whatever role Vegas plays during the Seattle expansion draft process.
 

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There’s also a blurb in there about the disallowed Coyle goal in Montreal. Apparently the GM’s “overwhelmingly” agreed that it was a skill play by Coyle in kicking the puck between his legs, and they are going to look at adding language to the rule that would allow it to count. Great, except it is already in the rule book and now we are likely headed towards a “what’s a catch” type debate as the league tries to define possession.
 

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A lot of “all decade” stuff out in the hockey section today. Very fun, especially as someone who is working today.
 

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This is a fantastic article/oral history about Fight Night in the Coliseum. Got pretty much everyone on the record except Trevor Gillies. What I didn't realize is that Michael Haley scored his first NHL goal that night...and that's NOT what he was remembered for in that game.

There are a few standout games from the last decade of Islander hockey. Any of their five playoff overtime wins make the list, most notably Game 6 of the 2016 first round when John Tavares sent the Isles beyond the opening round for the first time in 23 years.

But plenty of NHL teams have those moments. One that stands out less for its skill and more for what went down between the whistles is the Fight Night at the Coliseum, the wildest game of the decade for the Islanders, the Penguins and most likely the entire league. Everyone seems to remember Feb. 11, 2011, when revenge and respect went to a level not seen in the NHL for a long time. And almost certainly never to be seen again.

The Islanders, 18-29 going into that Friday night, won the game 9-3. But hardly anyone remembers that part.
 

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Veronica Heinen stood up in front of a room full of hockey players — and their mothers — and revealed a secret even her son Danton didn’t know was coming.
She took the group back to the evening of June 15, 2011, when Veronica remembers her son returning home in tears. Danton, then 15, had grown up a Canucks fan and lived only a saucer pass from Rogers Arena in Langley, B.C. He and his father, Rick, had attended Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in 2011.
They watched helplessly as the hated Boston Bruins won the championship.
“He made a little Stanley Cup that he took with him,” Veronica said. “He was a huge Canuck fan and now he’s a Bruin. It’s crazy how that works and he’s playing for the team he hated.”
Danton remembers that cup well.
“I was a diehard back then. Everything I did was hockey. I made a little Stanley Cup and we would play for it in the driveway,” he said.
But he wasn’t prepared for the truth: Not long ago, Veronica admitted, she threw it out.
 

The Napkin

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It’s December. The holiday season is here. School is out soon. Mom and Dad have some time off of work. Older kids are home from college. Families gather to enjoy each other’s company (or bicker about sports, politics and control of the TV remote).
Maybe the fam takes in a hockey game?



Shocker: Bruins are high on the list

Team Fan Cost Index (USD)
New York Rangers $619
Toronto Maple Leafs $617
Chicago Blackhawks $565
Boston Bruins $560


And the NHL Seems too high overall to me?

So how do NHL fan costs overall compare in value to its major league sports peers? Here is a Fan Cost Index average comparison for the five U.S. major leagues, with the NBA as a rough estimate for final numbers expected to be published soon:

  • MLB: $234
  • MLS: $250
  • NHL: $424
  • NBA: $429
  • NFL: $540
 

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Captain Zdeno Chara will play his 1,000th game in a Bruins uniform Monday against Philadelphia. Beat writers Joe McDonald and Fluto Shinzawa have each covered Chara since he signed with Boston before the 2006 season. The pair share some personal memories and moments that have stood out over nearly 15 years covering a player who will one day likely be a Hall of Famer.
 

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On Saturday morning, Jordan Juron was a member of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, a group that has vowed to sit out all professional hockey in North America until there is a league deemed sustainable for the future of the game.
Later that day though, after a last-minute decision, Juron found herself on the opposite side of the movement and on the ice with the National Women’s Hockey League’s Boston Pride.
Hours before puck drop, Juron signed a professional tryout contract with the Pride for their weekend series in Buffalo. Shortly after the PTO was announced, she received a message from a PWHPA head saying she would be removed from their rosters for all future events.
“I was given an opportunity, I did not seek an opportunity out, and it sparked that little girl inside of me who just loves the game and wants to play,” Juron said in a recent interview. “I just thought it was what is best for me and my current situation.”
 

The Napkin

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In building out these rankings, the Bruins were one of the teams whose place within them really tested my approach/philosophy.
Though their prospect pool runs deeper than a couple of the teams who will slot in at No. 29 and No. 28, and maybe even one or two more beyond that, they lack truly high-end options.
On one hand, if there’s one team that can sustain an approach that drafts depth guys who can fill in around the margins, it’s the one with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak locked up long term. On the other hand, I think the Bruins have played a lot of their high picks too safely in recent memory and that will limit their ability to hit home runs.
The end result: A prospect pool that has some future NHLers but doesn’t excite.
 

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two violent collisions in the span of five days caused the heart rate of former junior hockey goaltender Bailey Seagraves to dramatically rise.
One involved a deer and his 2019 Honda CR-V. The other featured the elbow of Blue Jackets rookie forward Emil Bemstrom and the head of Bruins veteran goalie Tuukka Rask.
There’s no question which accident created more excitement and anxiety for the 22-year-old Seagraves, who grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL.
 

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Last week, The Athletic published its annual league-wide NHL players poll, in which approximately 400 players chimed in on the state of the league. Now it’s time to turn their focus closer to home, polling the Bruins on their favorite things about the city and about their teammates.
It was interesting to see each player look around the locker room at all the nameplates when trying to figure out the best answer to these questions. Danton Heinen, Karson Kuhlman, Charlie Coyle, John Moore, Brandon Carlo, Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and Connor Clifton all participated. So without further ado, the 2019-20 Bruins players poll:
 

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You guys convinced me to subscribe. Charlie Coyle's response to what one of his teammates would be if he wasn't a hockey player (I'm not going to spoil it) made the entire $36 subscription worth it already.