15 Most Self-Centered People in the NHL

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2012

15 Most Self-Centered People in the NHL

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    When scouts look at players, they take note of a player's attitude.

    While they want the most talented skaters, shooters and passers to fill their rosters, there are other factors.

    Hockey players need to be team-oriented.

    Players who will make the extra pass when they could shoot themselves help make their team better. They are selfless players. So are players who will stand up for teammates who are being challenged or bullied by cheap-shot artists.

    Players who choose to shoot and play offense when defense is required are self-centered. Players who take penalties because they want retribution are selfish. Players who don't hold up when skating into the offensive zone and cause an offsides whistle because of it are selfish.

    Executives who are trying to squeeze every dollar and keep them out of the players' wallets are selfish.

Tim Thomas, Boston

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    Tim Thomas had as much to do with the Boston Bruins winning the 2011 Stanley Cup as anyone on the roster.

    When it came time for the team to celebrate its championship by attending a White House celebration, Thomas refused to go.

    He may not like President Barack Obama's politics, but his decision took the focus off of his team and put it on his own personal beliefs.

    That was a self-centered decision.

    It can also be argued that Thomas's decision to take the 2012-13 season off when his team has a shot to win the Stanley Cup can also be described as selfish.

Raffi Torres, Phoenix

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    Raffi Torres is a nasty player who excels at cheap shots.

    Last year, he ran Chicago's Marian Hossa from behind in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series, and the Blackhawks star had to be wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.

    The hit was deemed as dirty by the NHL, and Torres was suspended 25 games. While the suspension was later reduced, it did not mitigate the dirty hit.

    Torres put his team in a hole because he was no longer available to it because of the vicious hit. He may have thought he was helping his team, but his actions turned out to be self-centered in addition to being nasty and dirty.

Phil Kessel, Toronto

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    Phil Kessel has a vicious wrist shot and is a legitimate NHL goal scorer who has exceeded the 30-goal mark in four consecutive seasons.

    Kessel can light the lamp, but he is not known for his team play. When it comes to defense and doing the little things that help teams win games, Kessel is often nowhere to be found.

    He is more likely to embellish and take a dive—as he does in the video above—then play the game the way it should be played.

    That's a self-centered way to go about playing the game.

Dany Heatley, Minnesota

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    Dany Heatley has been well-traveled in his NHL career. He has played for four NHL teams, which is fairly unusual for a player who has scored 50 goals twice.

    When he was traded from the Atlanta Thrashers to the Ottawa Senators, Ottawa fans thought they were getting a dominant player. However, while he was a bona fide goal scorer, he did not do the little things that would have made the Senators a championship team.

    He was ultimately traded to San Jose—after rejecting a trade to Edmonton—and when he returned to Ottawa, the fans booed him, as they remembered his selfish play and attitude.

Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh

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    Matt Cooke became infamous for his head shot on Boston's Marc Savard.

    Cooke was a cheap-shot artist throughout his career with Vancouver, Washington and Pittsburgh, and his nasty hit on Savard was perhaps his worst.

    Cooke was sanctioned by the league several times, and he attempted to change his career path in 2011-12.

    His penalty minute total dipped from 129 to 44, but his self-centered attitude does not get wiped out by one decent year.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington

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    Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest goal scorers in the NHL.

    He has had a couple of down years by his own standards, but he had three straight 50-plus goal seasons earlier in his career.

    However, Ovechkin has a couple of self-centered aspects to his game. He is not overly enamored with defensive play, and he will also take cheap shots (above) when he gets the opportunity.

Sean Avery, New York Rangers (retired)

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    Sean Avery did not win a lot of friends or influence a lot of people during his NHL career.

    He played the game for himself, and his teammates mattered little.

    When John Tortorella found himself coaching Avery as a member of the Rangers after he was acquired by New York in 2008-09, it was not the ideal situation. Tortorella had called Avery a player who had no business being in the NHL when he was a commentator for TSN.

    Avery was always about drawing attention to himself, as he did when he waved his stick in front of Martin Brodeur's face (above).

Brad Marchand, Boston

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    Brad Marchand is a chippy, edgy and effective player for the Boston Bruins. He was one of the most valuable players on the team in their seven-game triumph over the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    However, Marchand will cross the line on occasion. When he hit Sami Salo with a below-the-waist hip check that submarined the Canucks defenseman, Marchand was supsended five games for the low blow.

    While the hit was branded as dirty by the league, it was also selfish because it kept him out of the Bruins lineup for five games.

P.K. Subban, Montreal

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    There's little doubt that P.K. Subban is a talented player. He's got a booming shot from the point, and he has notable skating speed.

    However, he doesn't play the game consistently. He seems content to take dives in an effort to try to get calls from the referees. That's a self-centered way to play the game. When he doesn't get the call, he is out of position and can't help his teammates.

    In the video above, he threw an elbow at David Krejci of the Boston Bruins and then turtled when challenged by the Bruins' Andrew Ference. That's a cheap shot, an act of cowardice and a selfish maneuver because it reflects so poorly on his team.

Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey

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    Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the league.

    When he is working hard, he can be a dynamic difference-maker.

    He usually works hard on the offensive end, but Kovalchuk is almost impossible to notice as a defensive player. He was benched during the 2010-11 season for his lack of defensive effort and effectiveness.

Maxim Lapierre, Vancouver

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    In the video clip above, Maxim Lapierre was at his worst with the Montreal Canadiens.

    He shoved San Jose's Scott Nichol head-first into the boards on a play that was a miserable cheap shot that could have resulted in a serious injury.

    Lapierre has consistently taken cheap shots and dives throughout his career.

    This is selfish, gutless play that is dirty and self-centered.

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg

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    Dustin Byfuglien is a talented athlete who played a key role in the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run in 2010. His size, strength and offensive skills helped the Hawks sweep the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals and defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    But as much of an impact as he had, Byfuglien also was maddening for the Hawks. When he plays hard, he's a force. However, he often decides he's going to coast.

    His effort is not always there. In the video above, Byfuglien and his teammates talk about how much he likes to have a good time. It seems that he would often rather relax and have a good time than play hard to get his team a win.

    That's clearly a selfish and self-centered attitude.

    Byfuglien was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers shortly after the Stanley Cup win. The Thrashers moved to Winnipeg prior to the 2011-12 season.

Alex Burrows, Vancouver

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    When Alex Burrows decided to make a dramatic flourish by biting Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, it backfired badly.

    Perhaps he thought he would intimidate Bergeron and the Bruins, or he would simply get away with mayhem, but the move inspired the Bruins and galvanized them.

    Burrows' decision to bite Bergeron's finger was selfish because it hurt his team, his reputation and it inspired his opponents.

David Backes, St. Louis

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    David Backes of the St. Louis Blues is his team's captain, and he is no longer a selfish player.

    However, he was earlier in his career, and he proved it by taking needless and selfish penalties whenever he got angry.

    While he has averaged 100 penalty minutes the last three seasons, he does it by standing up for himself and his teammates. Prior to the 2009-10 season, his penalties were often the result of selfish play emanating from emotional outbursts. He has matured and developed into one of the best all-around players.

Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

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    The NHL has locked out its players three times during Gary Bettman's reign as commissioner of the NHL.

    He has tried to take money out of the players' pockets and put it in the owners' pockets. The owners are the ones who employ Bettman.

    His ability to make the owners more money helps keep him employed.

    It is in his self-interest to make money for the owners.

    However, it has hurt the game, the players and the fans.