Here is a list nobody wants to be on: the 20 most immature hockey players in the NHL today.
NHL players tend to be young people with the number of 18-year-olds growing year after year because of the salary cap and several other reasons.
But immaturity has to do with a lot more than age. Yes, hockey is a "kids' game" played by adults, but there are many ways to be considered immature in the modern NHL, and the people on this list pretty much thought of a lot of them.
Feel free to comment or add any that you think I may have missed. And remember, for every player on this list, there are a lot more NHL players who are good citizens, great teammates and who truly appreciate their fans and families.
This past year, the Boston Bruins were invited to the White House to celebrate their 2011 Stanley Cup victory. All of them attended—except goalie Tim Thomas.
I'm sure I'll stir up some controversy with this one, and I agree that Thomas was well within his rights as an American citizen to decline the invitation, but the way he behaved was immature. Thomas took a non-partisan event designed to celebrate a team accomplishment, and turned it into an event about HIM and his individual political beliefs.
I'm sure there were other players on the Bruins who didn't vote for President Obama or don't agree with all of his policies. Just to be non-partisan about this, I'm sure in the past, there have been other players who attended White House celebrations who didn't agree with George W. Bush's policies or any other sitting president's for that matter.
But they went, because when championship sports teams are invited to the White House, it's not about politics, it's about the team and what they accomplished on the ice, the court, the field or on the diamond.
Again, Thomas is well within his rights to speak his mind, but his actions and more importantly his timing in this particular instance just made him come across as very childish and self-centered and earned him a place on this list.
Maybe this one isn't fair, but hey, three of the guy's teammates more or less nominated him for this list, so we couldn't really disagree.
You can watch it here: Three young members of the Colorado Avalanche were interviewed by Billy Jaffe about how mature the young team is despite their relative youth. When asked who the most immature member of the team was, they all unanimously responded: Matt Duchene.
Who are we to argue? They know him better than we do...
Dustin Byfuglien has already accomplished a lot in his brief NHL career. He has won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and proven himself a versatile performer by playing both defense and forward quite well.
But last September, Byfuglien was arrested for boating while intoxicated and he refused to submit to a blood test after his arrest.
The reaction of Byfuglien's stepfather to the incident: "He's got to grow up."
Pittsburgh's Craig Adams earned a one-game suspension during last year's playoffs for instigating a fight with Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell.
In the process, Adams did something rather immature that nursery school kids everywhere often get in trouble for: he pulled Hartnell's hair.
Brendan Shanahan stepped in to suspend Adams and almost acted like a teacher's aide on the playground. Hey, boys, if you're going to pull hair, you're just not going to be allowed to play together.
OK, Burrows being on this list stems primarily from one incident, but it's a silly incident and one that can only be described as "childish."
In Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final, Burrows bit Boston's Patrice Bergeron's finger. I mean, come on, that's something we see on a kindergarten report card: bites his classmates, doesn't play well with others.
OK, he's not a player, but anybody who has watched one of John Tortorella's many blow-ups with media members at his press conferences knows why he made this list.
It's obvious Tortorella has little respect for most reporters and he really doesn't want to answer a lot of their questions which he feels are "stupid."
But guess what, we all have to do things in our jobs that we don't particularly like and a mature person deals with the parts he doesn't like in order to do the things he does like.
Not Torts! He calls out members of the media and cuts his press conferences short which essentially prevents fans from knowing more about his thoughts and feelings about the game or his team or any issue in particular.
The way Tortorella handles the media may be honest, but mature? Hardly...
Krys Barch had a lapse in judgment last year and it landed him on this list.
In January, Barch was suspended one game for making "inappropriate" and possibly racially insensitive remarks to defenseman P.K. Subban of Montreal.
Barch did man up and apologize to Subban who said he didn't really hear what Barch yelled at him.
Although making the comment was immature, Barch handled it well and that's why he is near the bottom of this list and not near the top.
Last season, Sam Gagner had one of the great games in NHL history when he scored four goals and eight points in one game on February 2nd against Chicago.
Gagner was selected with the sixth-overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He has yet to develop the consistency that so go with his great raw offensive talent. Gagner has been in the NHL for five complete seasons, but he has never scored more than 18 goals in any one campaign.
Despite his franchise record setting game against Chicago, there were plenty of trade rumors surrounding Gagner less than a month later, mostly because the Oilers brass question the maturity and work ethic of their former number one pick.
Nobody questions the talent of Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. His skills should make him an NHL star, but even at 21 and after three years of professional hockey, Kadri can't seem to find the work ethic that will make him an every day NHL player.
Kadri has never played more than 29 NHL games in a season and never scored more than five goals.
Pure talent will only get you so far. In Kadri's case that appears to be a quality AHL point producer. But until Kadri shows enough maturity to work hard at his profession, he will never reach his potential on the ice.
Again, sometimes one act can get a player on this list.
Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski earned a place on it with one gesture that took place during a game between the Islanders and Rangers early in the 2010-11 season.
This is an NHL hockey game and yes, kids were kids watching. Wisniewski's actions can only be described as childish.
Semin is another one of those players who has loads and loads of talent but his production never seems to match his ability.
Many NHL scouts believe the Russian sniper has the ability to be one of the top scorers in the league, but instead, he has a reputation as a "coach killer" who has never consistently reached his potential.
This reputation limited Semin's offers this summer as an unrestricted free agent and as a result, he only signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. A strong season in Carolina this year would probably go a long way towards changing Semin's reputation as someone who works hard only when he feels like it.
Marchand has a reputation of being a guy who works hard, but also plays hard and parties very hard.
After the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Sports Illustrated called Marchand to comment on their commemorative DVD celebrating the Bruins first Stanley Cup title since 1972. Marchand couldn't add to the commentary, however, because he was too wasted to contribute.
I know a Cup win is worth celebrating, but when a guy is still so drunk the next day that he is unable to even describe what winning the Stanley Cup feels like, he may have taken it a bit too far.
Marchand is still only 24 years old, but too much heavy drinking has been known to shorten many an athlete's career.
Do a Google search for "P.K. Subban immature" and you will get about 593,000 documents.
The talented young Habs defenseman is only 23-years-old, but since he joined the Canadiens in 2010, Subban has rubbed many of his teammates the wrong way.
In fact, last January, former Montreal coach Jacques Martin described Subban as a "selfish know-it-all with a lot of growing up to do."
Perhaps the talented Toronto native just needs some time before his attitude changes, but as of right now, he has certainly earned his spot on this list, at least according to his teammates and former coach.
Andrei Kostistyn was in a very similar situation to his teammate Alexander Radulov. Kostitsyn had just been acquired by the Predators from the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline. There were those who questioned his maturity, especially if he was on the same team as his brother Sergei.
So, the night before a crucial playoff game, he and Radulov broke curfew and stayed out very late drinking, which is hardly the mark of a mature hockey player.
The Predators suspended the duo for Game 3 and benched them for Game 4 and ended up losing the series in five games.
Andrei will not be back with the Preds this year and this incident is a big reason why.
Your team is in the playoffs, has advanced to the second round and is down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series.
You have just returned to the NHL from Russia's KHL with much fanfare and with much to prove as far as your personal reputation is concerned, especially after you skipped down on your team a few years back in mid-contract.
So, what do you do? If you are Alexander Radulov, you stay out really late the night before the game drinking and break your team's curfew. Needless to say, Radulov was suspended for Game 3 of the series and benched for Game 4.
He also showed us why this list was so tough to put together: most NHL players who remain immature don't remain NHL players for very long. The kid has a lot of raw talent, but no team was willing to shell out for a long-term deal in free agency this offseason in part because of his lack of maturity. He is heading back to the KHL to play this year as a result.
I'm sure I'll hear it from Penguins fans for putting him on this list, but if I left him off, I'd certainly hear from the fans of 29 other teams.
Crosby is without question one of, if not the most talented player in the NHL today. He has always handled the media well and the pressure that has come with being Sidney Crosby since he entered his teens.
But the one reason Crosby is on this list is his constant complaining to the officials seemingly every time he gets hit. Hey, you're the best player in the league—you're going to be a target. Deal with it.
Even Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry took some shots at Crosby for his attitude on hitting and alleged diving to draw penalties.
Hey Sid, you're arguably the best hockey player in the world...just play the game!
Ovechkin makes this list for a few reasons.
Let's start with what Caps goalie assistant coach Olaf Kolzig said about him last February, that he was too involved in a "rock star" lifestyle and has to get back to being Alex Ovechkin, hockey player.
Hey, Ovie is human, and I'm sure he has plenty of temptations to deal with. He's still only 26-years-old, a multi-millionaire, he has fame, celebrity, women throwing themselves at his feet. But he can't be out drinking or celebrating so much that it affects his livelihood: his performance on the ice.
Ovechkin's stats have been down the past few years and whether that's due to his allegedly excessive partying, a change in philosophy by the Capitals' coaching staff or some combination of factors, he's got to bounce back and soon if the Caps hope to break their long-standing lack of playoff success.
The second reason is how Ovechkin handled his suspension this past January. Ovie received a three-game suspension for a questionable hit on Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek. Once Brendan Shanahan suspended Ovechkin, the Caps star decided he would sit out the NHL All-Star Game. It was like Ovechkin was so upset with his suspension he said, "It's my puck and I'm going home."
The All-Star game is an exhibition for the fans, a showcase for the most talented players in the league to exhibit their skills and talent. When he deprived NHL fans the chance to see him in action because he was upset over his suspension, Ovechkin acted, well....childish and immaturely.
One way people can demonstrate their immaturity is a failure to learn from their mistakes. A mature person realizes what he has done wrong and tries to correct it. An immature person just keeps getting into the same kind of trouble over and over again.
Exhibit one for that is Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. Here's a guy who just doesn't seem to learn. Torres has a long history of being suspended and/or fined for questionable hits, including hits that take place when he leaves his skates and hits opponents high.
Instead of changing his style to fit the rules and to keep himself from being suspended (see Matt Cooke, which many hockey fans still find hard to believe), Torres just keeps on playing the same way and predictably, keeps on getting suspended.
A list of his transgressions can be found here. Torres truly hurt his team in last year's playoffs when he earned his latest suspension: a 25-gamer (later reduced to 21) for a head shot to Chicago's Marian Hossa.
When will he ever learn?
Where do you begin with Sean Avery?
He may very well have retired and be out of hockey, but he played last year and let's face it, the main reason he may be out of hockey now is not because of his lack of talent but because of his immaturity and abrasive personality.
Let's start with the infamous "sloppy seconds" remark which went well beyond immature and into the "classless" category. Heck, most high school kids know not to make a remark like that.
You can add his behavior in Dallas even prior to the infamous remark thay just made him the least liked man on the Stars roster. I mean, his own teammates couldn't stand to be around him.
Avery even drew attention to himself during HBO's 24/7 last December and again he didn't exactly come across as mature or flattering to most people.
I could go on, but I don't know if there's any need. Avery deserves his spot near the top of this list.
Patrick Kane earns his place on this list for a few reasons. Nobody questions Kane's immense talent and ability on the ice, but off the ice, he's made more than a few immature and questionable decisions.
First, there was the time Kane and his brother were arrested for allegedly beating up a cab driver because he couldn't produce 20 cents in change. Most every day working people would be more than willing to let 20 cents slide, but for a millionaire hockey player to be fighting a cabbie over two dimes? Come on.
Kane also had a series of what he called "embarrassing photos" crop up this summer which featured the Hawks star being more than a little bit intoxicated. It certainly doesn't set him up as a great role model for youthful hockey fans.
To his credit, Kane did issue a public apology after the photographs surfaced and he hasn't gotten into any kind of major problems that we know about since.
Maybe, just maybe, he's starting to mature...