NHL's Most Notorious Cheap-Shot Artist in Each Team's History
With the focus of the NHL continuing to be placed on head shots and dirty play, bars all over North America have heard the discussion of who was (or is) the dirtiest player in each franchise's history.
Some teams have a great, long history filled with dirtballs, and other teams who are newer are still building a list of cheap-shot artists. But almost every team has had one player distinguish himself as a regrettable player.
What follows is our list of the most notorious cheap-shot artists in each team's history.
Certainly not a household name after posting only 50 points in 245 games with the Ducks franchise in the mid-1990s, Dave Karpa found ways to make life miserable for opposing teams. He's still the all-time leader in penalty minutes for the Ducks franchise with 788, and he probably could have had more if many of his cheap shots were seen by referees.
There are two incidents on this list that we didn't post a video because of the nature of the footage. This is the first.
On Feb. 21, 2000, while a member of the Bruins, Marty McSorley whacked Vancouver's Donald Brashear in the side of the head with his stick. Feel free to head over to YouTube to see footage of the incident.
Boston has had their share of cheap-shot artists, but not many plays in league history were as disgusting as McSorley's hit on Brashear.
Matthew Barnaby might have been an "analyst" at a four-letter network for a few years, but there are few players in the last 25 years that have been as reprehensible on the ice as he was during his career. Not many players in NHL history took as many cheap shots as Barnaby.
He had demons to overcome throughout his electrifying career, but Theo Fleury took his share of cheap shots. Indeed, Fleury has continued to take shots at the NHL in his retirement, making cheap comments about the game and individuals associated with the league.
Without a long history to work with in Carolina, we're going to say Keith Primeau is the biggest cheap-shot artist in 'Canes history. He only played 159 games for the 'Canes, but he got into his fair share of scraps and piled up 185 penalty minutes for the effort.
With a long history of great players, and a lot of bad players on bad teams that made games interesting without scoring, the title of cheapest player in Chicago history will go to Chris Chelios. He always defended his teammates, but he also got into plenty of action after the whistle.
To Chicagoans, the ultimate cheap shot came at the expense of the city, however, when he went back on statements saying he wouldn't accept a trade to Detroit. After going to the rival Red Wings, he brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago, his home town, and paraded it around Wrigley Field a couple times.
Chelios has been hard for fans to deal with inside Chicago, just as he was for his opponents during his playing days.
Adam Foote played for the Avs for a long time, and many of his rivals have more scars than positive things to say about the former captain in Colorado.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Jody Shelley has employed questionable tactics in a number of locations, but the bulk of his dirty work was done with the Blue Jackets. In only 380 games, he piled up an astounding 1,025 penalty minutes (or roughly 2.7 PIM/gm). He's had words with the league's discipline office a couple times as well.
Continue reading. We'll discuss Avery at length when he shows up again on this list.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings have perhaps the most impressive leaderboard of career penalty minutes in the NHL, with four players accumulating at least 1,600 in a Detroit sweater and 10 reaching 1,000 while with the Wings. But the cheapest of them all was Joey Kocur, who racked up 1,963 penalty minutes in only 535 games (or roughly 3.7 PIM/gm).
Georges Laraque is one of the game's all-time "great" cheap-shot artists. Between the late 1990s and mid-2000s, Laraque did a great job of keeping opponents looking over their shoulder for a dirty play.
The Panthers are another team that doesn't have a very long history, and Todd Simpson wasn't with the Panthers very long (109 games), but he was as dirty as they come. In his brief time in Florida, Simpson picked up 276 penalty minutes and certainly got his money's worth with hits that didn't draw a whistle.
Los Angeles Kings
McSorley was an old-school enforcer that took every liberty in the book. If you watched the video after reading the Boston slide, you understand.
Since getting a franchise back from the NHL, Minnesota hasn't had long to build a list of players that made dirty plays on a regular basis. But between 2000-06, Willie Mitchell did a nice job of making sure opponents had something to worry about.
Chris Nilan piled up almost 900 penalty minutes, more than any other Canadiens player in the franchise's long, storied history. His 2,248 penalty minutes came in only 523 games.
Nashville hasn't been around forever, but Jordin Tootoo is a guy that has accumulated almost as many victims as he has goals in his time with the Preds.
New Jersey Devils
It would be impossible to not include Pat Verbeek somewhere in this slideshow. For a guy that wasn't as big as other tough guys in the game, Verbeek initiated a lot of contact in his career and earned more than his 2,905 career penalty minutes.
New York Islanders
In spite of a long, colorful history, the distinction for the Isles goes to Trevor Gillies for his actions surrounding the "fight" he had with Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi last year. He knocked the kid out, continued hitting him and then taunted him on his way to the dressing room while a clearly-not-right Tangradi was helped from the playing surface. It was one of the more bush-league moments in recent memory.
New York Rangers
One of the biggest jerks in the history of the game, Avery has taken cheap shots at opposing players on and off the ice (sorry, Mr. Phaneuf). How ridiculous are his antics? A rule was created so idiots couldn't do what Avery does to Martin Broduer in this clip.
While with the Sens, Jarkko Ruutu always seemed to be starting something at the end of a play. Opposing teams' enforcers needed to know where he was at all times whenever Ottawa was in town.
As is the case with many of the older franchises in the league, some of the game's stars have been polarizing for a reason. In Philadelphia, Bobby Clarke is considered a saint...but outside of the city, many of the Flyers' rivals have a deep, passionate hate for a guy who took his shots at the net and at opponents.
The Coyotes don't have a very long history to work with, but they have two "distinguished" cheap-shot artists that sprinted to the top of the list: Daniel Carcillo and Raffi Torres. We're going to go with Torres here because he's received his share of attention from the league this season. Carcillo was far from a saint while in the desert, but Torres beats him to the punch (pun intended).
Do we really need to have a major discussion here? Yes, there have been a number of players to represent the Pens that haven't played a totally clean game, but Matt Cooke might be the modern poster child for cheap shots. To his credit, he's been a significantly cleaner player this year than in the past, but his body of work speaks for itself.
San Jose Sharks
Jeff Odgers appeared in 334 games with San Jose between 1991-96, and he did little more that stir things up. He only scored 48 goals for the Sharks, but he did manage to earn 1,001 penalty minutes. He is still the all-time penalty-minutes leader in Sharks' history.
St. Louis Blues
Now the coach in Vancouver, Alain Vigneault was notorious for joining other players' fights in St. Louis. Some of the great bench-clearing battles between St. Louis and rivals Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit featured Vigneault getting in his shots while nobody was looking.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Enrico Ciccone was as dirty of a player as there was in the league while he was with the Bolts back in the mid-1990s. He racked up 604 penalty minutes in only 135 games with Tampa, but he could have probably doubled that if anyone paid attention.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave "Tiger" Williams was one of the all-time tough guys in NHL history, piling up 3,966 penalty minutes in only 962 games. He certainly earned many of those by dropping the gloves, but his tactics in initiating those fights weren't always above reproach.
Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, head over to YouTube and type in those two names. Warning: The footage is violent, and you'll wonder how Bertuzzi is still allowed to play in the NHL.
Now the head coach of the Capitals, Dale Hunter made a name for himself protecting teammates...and taking cheap shots at his opponents. This shot he took on Pierre Turgeon might be the hit that cements his legacy as a cheap-shot artist.
Nobody in the new "history" of the Jets has reached 60 penalty minutes in a season, and there really isn't someone on their roster that goes out of their way to abuse. Well, unless it's Dustin Byfuglien at a buffet.