By Scott Wheeler (The Athletic)
TORONTO — In two decades of coaching in the NHL, Todd Woodcroft has always been fascinated by one thing above all else: the centre position.

It began, in his formative years, watching Doug Gilmour play for the Maple Leafs. It continued, as his fandom of hockey turned into a passion for its details, when his favourite team became the Red Wings. He was drawn, then, to Steve Yzerman’s dual prowess offensively and defensively, to Igor Larionov’s ability to influence a game all over the ice, and to Sergei Fedorov’s game-changing combination of skill and responsible defensive play.

Later, when he was beginning his NHL coaching career in the early 2000s, Woodcroft appreciated a series of other Red Wings centres, from Pavel Datsyuk (whom he worked with for 10 summers) to Henrik Zetterberg and Kris Draper, for the ways they were able to put their own stamp on multiple championships.

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