The 20 Dirtiest Hitters in the NHL

Kevin W. RyanContributor IIIApril 10, 2012

The 20 Dirtiest Hitters in the NHL

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    Whether an NHL matchup is a rivalry or a random contest between two teams, enormous collisions make the game what it is, and they surely bring fans to their feet. Every team has a wrecking ball on skates—a "goon," if you will. 

    I would include everyone's favorite fashion model Sean Avery, but he's busy down in the AHL, as his NHL affiliate doesn't need his drama and lack of production all the way up there at the top of the Eastern Conference. 

    Here are the 20 dirtiest hitters in the league. In case I missed one or you find a good video, send them to me on Twitter @kevry88.

Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins

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    Lucic is owner of the dirtiest hit of the year, and surprisingly, he wasn't even suspended. However, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller got the best of Lucic by lashing out to the press on Lucic's choice style of play:

    "I'm not really going to get into that," Miller said in TD Garden. "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [expletive] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city see him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [expletive]." 

    Crime Record:

    Jaroslav Spacek

    Mike Van Ryn

    Paul Gaustad

    Mike Weaver

    For the record, Burrows' look in this photo: priceless. 

Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks

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    Clowe attests his rugged style of play to make up for all of the cheap shots teams take on Sharks youngster Logan Couture. But whatever the reason, Clowe brings the hammer every night, both offensively and defensively. 

    However, with a hard style comes a few dirty plays, which Clowe commits year after year—however hilarious they may be. 

    Crime Record:

    Johan Franzen

    Karlis Strastins

    Stephane Robadis

    Justin Abdelkader

    Cory Sarich


Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings

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    It seems as if Matt Greene is the only current Los Angeles King that is willing to drop the gloves. Well, perhaps he's the only King that possesses the capability to actually win a fight

    Crime Record:

    Mike Johnson

    Ryan Kesler

    Darryl Boyce

    Joe Vitale

Daniel Carcillo, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Whether he calls Chicago or Philly home, Carcillo is likely to have a target on his back every night. Teams are well aware of how well Carcillo lays out hits and certainly keep an eye on him throughout the season. 

    Crime Record:

    Tom Gilbert

    Joni Pitkanen

    Lee Stempniak

    Milan Lucic 

Jordan Tootoo, Nashville Predators

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    Tootoo is the second dirty player on the list to have tagged Buffalo Sabres and Team USA netminder Ryan Miller.

    Crime Record:

    Mike Modano

    Kris Draper

    Logan Couture

    Michael Frolik

    Donald Brashear

    Carlo Colaiacovo



Steve Ott, Dallas Stars

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    Stars crybaby Steve Ott is the most hated man outside of Dallas since Sammy Sosa became a superstar. Good call, George W. 

    Crime Record:

    Michael Del Zotto

    Gregory Campbell

    Niclas Bergfors

    Ales Hemsky

    Dany Heatley

    Don't worry, Heatley got his revenge with San Jose in 2011. 

Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers

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    It's no secret that Chris Pronger is headed to the Hall of Fame once he calls his career quits. Pronger has been in the league so long that he played his first NHL season with the Hartford Whalers before moving on to the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and eventually, the Broad Street Bullies.  

    Pronger has an impressive trophy case, including a Hart Trophy as the league's MVP (2000), a Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman (2000), two Olympic gold medals (2002, 2010) and a Stanley Cup (2007). 

    However, unless Pronger was suited up in your team's gear, you probably hated him... 

    Crime Record:

    Ryan Kesler

    Tomas Holmstrom

    Dean McAmmond

    Stanley Cup Finals: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews

    David Backes

Steve Downie, Colorado Avalanche

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    Downie plays so dirty that he even got Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin to drop the gloves 

    Crime Record:

    Sidney Crosby

    Dean McAmmond

    Ben Lovejoy


    What goes around, comes around, eh?! 

Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    It seems like we've gotten to the point where Matt Cooke is about one dirty cheap shot away from being suspended for life. But when you play the game so dirty, it enrages the rest of the league—to the point where you get "absolutely KO'd."

    Crime Record:

    Marc Savard

    Fedor Tyutin

    Alex Ovechkin

    Ryan McDonagh

    Zach Bogosian

    He even pissed off the Reverend, Don Cherry.

Brothers Ruutu: Jarkko and Tuomo

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    I think it's hilarious that two of the dirtiest players in the league are brothers. Since I'm sure they share bunk beds and toy cars, they deserve to have their dirty cheap-shot hits highlighted on the same front. 

    Crime Record

    Jaromir Jagr 

    Martin Erat

    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Darcy Tucker

    Dion Phaneuf

    Byron Ritchie 

Maxim Lapierre, Vancouver Canucks

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    Whether he's playing in Montreal, Anaheim or Vancouver, Maxi-Pad's ridiculous style of play is easily recognized as one of the dirtiest in the league. The best part is when the opponent's tough guy comes and politely asks for a brawl, Lapierre somehow can't find the energy.  

    Crime Record:

    Scott Nichol

    Brad Richardson

    Steve Downie

    Brad Winchester 

Trevor Gilles, New York Islanders

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    Perhaps he's angry because the New York Islanders used to have the most hilarious mascot in NHL history? 

    Crime Record:

    Cal Clutterbuck 

    Derek Smith

    Eric Godard

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

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    Of course, no Boston fan in their right mind will admit Marchand is a dirty hitter. Right, he just "plays hard."

    Crime Record:

    Sami Salo 

    R.J. Umberger

    Alexei Emelin 

Patrick Kaleta, Buffalo Sabres

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    Kaleta reminds me of Sharks winger Ryane Clowe in the sense that both styles are "on the edge," but far too occasionally they step over the line—including hilarious bench "activity." 

    Crime Record

    Petr Prucha

    Jakub Voracek

    Alex Ovechkin

    His best hit yet was on Bruins big man Zdeno Chara. 


Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators

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    Neil is guilty of dirty plays all around, including the ultimate worst: the sucker punch. 

    Crime Record:

    Johnny Boychuk

    Chris Drury

    However, Neil does occasionally land that clean, epic hit

Ryan Hollweg, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Extremely proud of his mustache (Twitter handle @TheStache15), Yotes winger Ryan Hollweg loves to scrap with the league's biggest tough guys. However, it's widely known his hits are as clean as his dance moves are good

    Crime Record:

    Sergei Kostitsyn

    Cam Jansen  

    Zach Parise

    Kyle Clifford

    Hollweg is known for receiving cheap shots, too.  

Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Rangers head coach John Tortorella has this to say about Orpik's style of play. 

    Crime Record:

    Derek Stepan 

    Jason Spezza

    Erik Cole

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings

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    There's a reason The Joe frequently uses the phrase "Kronwalled."

    Niklas plays the game harder than anyone in the league—an easy way to get the rivals to dish out the "dirty" tag.

    At least dudes in the Dirty D analyze their hometown heroes. 

    Crime Record:

    Jakub Voracek

    Martin Havlat

    Teemu Selanne

    Ryan Kesler 

    Wingers leaving their defensive zone clearly have not learned to check where Kronwall is before they start skating with the puck. 

PK Subban, Montreal Canadiens

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    PK Subban was the victim of the "Hit of the Year" in 2011 thanks to superstar Alex Ovechkin. At least he took it like a man

    PK "Slew Foot" Subban is easily one of the dirtiest players in the league, which is quite unfortunate, as he's shaping up to be a great defenseman. 

    Though he's one of the dirtiest in the league, he definitely receives his fair share of pain.   

    Crime Record:

    Brandon Dubinsky

    Evgeni Malkin

    Chirs Kunitz 

    What can I say, the dude plays the game hard

Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings

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    It's clear that the NHL executives believe that Bertuzzi's shootout magic deserves to keep him in the league.

    There is no other reason that he should be banned after the dirtiest play in the history of the league—perhaps in sports history. 

    Crime Record:

    Steve Moore

    Ryan Johnson 

    Barret Jackman

    Dany Heatley

    Ben Smith

    Devin Setoguchi