Hockey is a sport known for its humility.
Whether influenced by the game's "low man on the totem pole" status in the United States or the generally congenial nature of its founders in the Great White North, hockey has a decided lack of egos.
The media eats up the ego game in other sports, broadcasting an hour-long special on LeBron James' moronic "Decision", turning A-Rod's divorce and subsequent trysts into tabloid fodder and breaking down and over-analyzing every postgame press conference rant, self-absorbed Tweet and weekly "guarantee" the NFL has to offer.
By nature, hockey is polite, team-oriented and quiet. Players have an innate understanding of how to keep drama from spilling out of the locker room and into the media.
However, the sport's humble nature causes its handful of divas to stick out like sore thumbs. In almost any other sport, the figures on this list would be par for the course; in hockey, they can seem like sideshows.
Being a diva has nothing to do with a player's abilities. Perhaps hockey's greatest diva of all-time is also one of its legendary goaltenders, the great Patrick Roy. Divas can be talented, they can spark interest in the sport, and they can be the guys whose jerseys you want to buy.
But they are divas nonetheless, and hockey has its own special crop of attention whores. These are the 20 top egomaniacal, spotlight-hogging, all-around drama queens who have made a name for themselves by taking things just a little (or a lot) too far.
Hockey's eighth-greatest scorer of all-time not only has a knack for finding the back of the net, he also has a flair for the dramatic.
Jaromir Jagr was one of hockey's top players in the 1990s and early 2000s, but his limitless talents did not come without a price. Not only did the Pittsburgh Penguins specifically hire a Czech head coach to cater to Jagr, but No. 68 couldn't even make that relationship work (via Sports Illustrated). Shifts were cut short, player-only meetings were held and in-game spats between superstar and coach plagued the Penguins.
Jagr took his ego to Washington, New York and Europe in the next decade, eventually deciding to return to the NHL. Rumors abounded that Jagr looked to make a triumphant return to Pittsburgh, where he could redeem himself for his inglorious exit. Instead, after baiting the fans (intentionally or unintentionally) into buying the comeback notion, Jagr signed elsewhere (via pittsburghmagazine.com).
And by elsewhere, I mean across the state of Pennsylvania, with Pittsburgh's biggest rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
The icing on the cake was Jagr's final gesture to the fans of Pittsburgh: a trademark salute after scoring a goal against the team that made him the star he is today.
Technically, Radulov no longer plays in the NHL.
But given the fact that we are only months removed from enough drama to keep this mid-level forward in the headlines, Alexander Radulov deserves a nod as one of hockey's divas.
At the inception of the KHL in 2008, Radulov attempted to jump ship from the NHL to play hockey in his native Russia. One day after the International Ice Hockey Federation determined that all existing deals had to be honored, Radulov, who had one year remaining on his contract with the Nashville Predators, signed a three-year deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL, in direct violation with the agreement.
It was eventually determined that the Ufa deal had actually been signed five days prior to the IIHF agreement, and Radulov moved to the KHL.
Had the saga ended there, Radulov would not be a diva; he would simply be a homesick hockey player who saw an opportunity to play in his native land (story via New York Sun).
But four years later, Radulov decided to return to the Predators, right before the 2012 postseason. The change of heart saw the Predators gain a forward and poise them for a playoff run, but Radulov managed to steal headlines by getting himself suspended for violating curfew during the playoffs (via ESPN).
Now that he has landed back in Russia, we can only hope this is the last we've heard from this drama queen.
Alexander Semin has been an enigma since coming to the NHL, and that fact was not lost on former teammate Matt Bradley. While the two were playing together for the Washington Capitals, Bradley was asked about discipline issues on the team and candidly responded with this (via Pro Hockey Talk):
“I don’t mind saying Alexander Semin’s name, because he’s one guy who has so much talent, he could easily be the best player in the league, and just for whatever reason, just doesn’t care.
“When you’ve got a guy like that, you need him to be your best player, or one of your best players, and when he doesn’t show up, you almost get the sense that he wants to be back in Russia. That’s tough to win when you’ve got a guy like that who’s supposed to be your best player not being your best player, or one of your best players.”
As a free agent this past summer, there were unconfirmed rumors of eight-digit KHL offers (via CBS Sports), but Semin instead chose to sign a one-year, $7 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes (via ESPN).
The fact that he may have taken a smaller payday to remain in the NHL is certainly an act of humility, but some of us wanted to see him relocate to Russia just so we could stop hearing about the sideshow that is Semin's work ethic.
Carter's playboy-style off-ice escapades were well-documented during his days with the Philadelphia Flyers and are rumored to have been the basis for his trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the summer of 2011 (via ESPN). The former leading scorer of the Flyers faced a multitude of criticism for his partying that got him banished before his contract extension even kicked in.
Whether due to the sub-par nightlife of central Ohio or the dismal feel of being in the basement of the league standings, Carter didn't take long to desire to get out of Columbus. In fact, his refusal to answer any questions (as reported by Sports Illustrated) immediately following the Flyers-Jackets trade seems to indicate that Carter never wanted to play in Columbus to begin with.
Of course, one cannot entirely blame Carter; he had signed an extension with Philadelphia, only to be traded to the worst team in hockey one week before the extension kicked in. But Philly wasn't simply trying to run its top scorer out of town.
Had Carter gotten over himself and taken hockey seriously in Philly, he would still be wearing the Orange and Black.
Mike Ribeiro is the owner of some of the slickest shootout moves in the game, but no mano-a-mano highlight reel is going to make us forget the night Ribeiro appeared to see his life flash before his eyes.
A relatively harmless center-ice hit by Mike Knuble left Ribeiro doing an impression of the stomach scene from Alien, only to see him grinning on the bench minutes later.
There's diving, and then there's diving. Ribeiro is truly a diva in all the worst ways.
Wherever P.K. Subban goes, there always seems to be controversy following him.
The hard-hitting, hard-shooting defenseman reportedly turned down a two-year, $5.5 million contract from the Habs over the summer (via The Hockey News).
Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty are two young defensemen who signed monster deals as RFAs, but Subban appears to think that the media obsession with P.K. comes from his talents and not his tendency to find himself in the middle of controversy.
A December 2010 piece on The Hockey Writers' website explored Subban's talents, along with his tendency to chirp at established veteran players, his roller coaster ride of meeting with coaches and executives and his general rocky road toward developing his abilities at the NHL level.
There is no denying that Subban is good, but he has spent more time finding himself out of position and in the frustrated fan forums in recent days. I'm all for Subban choosing to be an unlikable player, as long as he stops making it so obvious how much he likes himself.
The New Jersey Devils' winger, hardly a household name before the 2012 lockout, found the spotlight with an impassioned letter airing his grievances about the treatment of the players by the NHL and Gary Bettman.
Barch's rant, which can be read here on Pro Hockey Talk and was openly influenced by Grandpa's old cough medicine, had all the makings of being a heartfelt call to understand the plight of the players and end the lockout silliness.
Barch compares himself to a truck driver or farmer with his choice of taking a shot and drinking a beer to cope with his financial struggles, as though the physical demands of hockey make up for the difference in salary for him and his local farmhand.
He laments that the majority of NHL players will have to work for the next 50 years, as though that isn't the norm for hardworking people everywhere who don't have a seven-figure starting point at age 35.
On top of it all, Barch's liquor-fueled bitch session was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors that make it hard to dub him hockey's Demosthenes.
In the immortal words of Hemingway: "Write drunk, edit sober."
When a player refuses to play for the team that drafts him, he is usually a first-overall pick—a guy with leverage, like Eric Lindros, who has the hockey world in the palm of his hand.
So, the Anaheim Ducks saw no reason to believe they were getting a drama queen when they drafted Justin Schultz 43rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
But Schultz refused to play for the Ducks, opting instead to play out his time at the University of Wisconsin. Again, the drama could have subsided if Schultz had graduated from the school and then begun playing with the Ducks.
He did neither.
Schultz de-registered from Wisconsin and did not work out a deal with Anaheim in the 30-day window in which the franchise had exclusive rights to the young defenseman (via Pro Hockey Talk). A bidding war to give Schultz a max contract ensued, and he eventually signed with the Edmonton Oilers.
All without ever playing a day in the NHL.
Every now and then, a sports coach loses his cool and stops answering media questions with the bland poise that we are used to seeing.
Initially, seeing the emotional New York Rangers coach John Tortorella give some real answers to questions was refreshing.
But it didn't take long for press conference drama to become Torts' "thing," and quite frankly, most of us are sick of it by now.
During the 2012 playoffs, Tortorella hit a new low when (as shown in the video), he answered virtually every questions with a short, nondescript "no" and then proceeded to look around at reporters, daring another one to ask a question as though they would get something worth writing down.
The once-genuine postgame emotion has turned into a sad, sad circus show in MSG.
Riddle me this: Who loves Alexander Ovechkin more than all 18,506 Washington Caps fans in the Verizon Center put together?
Answer: Alexander Ovechkin.
There is no denying that Ovechkin has been fun for the game of hockey, but there is also no denying his out-of-control ego. The superstar-turned-overpaid-winger never met a spotlight he didn't like, and it's becoming harder and harder for Ovie to justify his unending affair with the media or his $124 million contract.
In fact, the only time I've seen Alex put the spotlight on something other than himself was the time he gave his overheated stick accolades after scoring his 50th goal of the 2008-09 season.
Watch the moronic display here.
Ilya Bryzgalov's well-documented struggles in Philadelphia came to a head when Flyers coach Peter Laviolette decided to start backup Sergei Bobrovsky in the 2012 Winter Classic against the New York Rangers.
Of course, the media didn't get that announcement from Laviolette. They got it from Bryzgalov himself.
The frustrated netminder made it a point to bypass the quiet displayed by the rest of the team and informed the media of the "good news" (via Puck Daddy): he would not be playing in the marquee NHL game.
Regardless of whether or not Bryz was being critical of himself or the decision, there is no denying his dramatic way of making the Winter Classic all about Mr. Universe.
The term "diva" is more or less interchangeable with the term "diver" in hockey. Both refer to players who ignore the integrity of the game and behave like children to get their way.
Max Lapierre is a quintessential diver, as evidenced by this video from the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. It's one thing to fall down easily from a shove or a hit. It's something else entirely to take a little stick to the pads and make it seem like the trainer had better rush to grab an extra first-aid kit.
Lapierre's plight screams of the first half of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." Someday he's going to take a real slash and nobody is going to give a second thought to taking him off the ice on a stretcher.
Brad Marchand is Max Lapierre...in a rival sweater.
The Little Ball of Hate has been pestering his way around the league for two full seasons, and he's already one of the most unlikeable players in the NHL.
Here's the thing about diving, though. When it works, sometimes you get a power play. When it doesn't, sometimes the other team has an odd-man rush.
The video here shows Marchand's team paying the price for his antics.
Martin Havlat's journey to becoming a diva began after a high-stick incident on Philadelphia's Mark Recchi led to the epic Flyers-Sens brawl of 2004, when Havlat managed to miss all the fun by serving a penalty for a teammate.
His encore to his display of courage was to wax poetic about loyalty in hockey (via AOL News) after the Chicago Blackhawks failed to offer him a multi-year deal and later flip the bird (via Pro Hockey Talk) to San Jose Sharks fans.
It seems every time Havlat's name winds up in the papers, it's for all the wrong reasons.
He's the best player in hockey today. He is the face of the NHL. He has the hardware to justify an Ovechkin-level ego, yet he remains humble.
But when it comes to playing the Philadelphia Flyers, Sidney Crosby is nothing shy of a diva.
Whether pushing Jakub Voracek's glove away from him after the whistle or telling the media he doesn't like the Flyers, Crosby can sure behave like a child from time to time. If he could let his immaturity go, he'd be the game's most respected player.
Boston's moronic broadcaster takes being a homer to new levels. While there is certainly no shame in believing that your team can do no wrong, Jack Edwards takes loyalty to extreme levels by suggesting the Montreal Canadiens fans are whiners for not wanting their players run into stanchions.
He begins by criticizing Canadiens fans for taking their place of birth as a reason to feel superior to others, then subsequently and hypocritically praises the history of Boston for dumping some tea into a bay.
Bruins vs. Canadiens is one of the greatest rivalries in sports. But the Revolutionary War, it is not.
The most glorious part of the lockout has been the long respite from Edwards' insane ramblings.
Biz Nasty has made a name for himself via Twitter, making him a virtual pioneer between the sport and the social media network.
But a quick glance at Bissonnette's account shows his tendency to get into arguments with random trolls on the web, suggesting that this once self-deprecating fourth-liner might be taking himself a tad too seriously.
Patrick Roy famously refused to play for the Montreal Canadiens after pulling himself from a bad game, resulting in his trade to the Colorado Avalanche (via TSN).
Sergei Kostitsyn refused to report to the Hamilton Bulldogs before the 2009-10 season, apparently believing that he was too good for the minors and deserved a full stint in the NHL (via RDS). That's Patrick Roy behavior from a 22 year-old 17 NHL goals to his name.
Can you say drama queen?
Oh, and USA Today reports that Kostitsyn wants the lockout to last so he can keep playing in Russia. Diva!
We're in the midst of the second NHL lockout in eight years, and it seems that the NHL owners are looking to restructure, revamp and take back the contracts that they themselves handed out under the CBA that they themselves structured.
The sports has experienced major growth in the last seven years, and the owners are willing to put that all on the line simply because they want to line their pockets with a little extra cash and force the players to bail out the teams that are in the red.
The Boston Globe summed up the financial goals and hypocrisies of the NHL in a recent article. When an already-rich group of people take away our entertainment to make some extra cash, we can't help but label them capitalism's divas.
There is no diva greater than Tim Thomas.
Rather than celebrate his team's amazing Stanley Cup run with a trip to the White House, Tim Thomas let his politics dictate his actions, as he refused to show up because he feels government has gotten too big (via Washington Post).
Because, apparently a handshake and a team photo are the epitome of what is wrong with 'Murica today.
Thomas hilariously explained the incident by saying it had nothing to do with politics, as though his "big government" complaints are entirely apolitical.
Thomas decided to take the 2012-13 season off, another bizarre decision by one of hockey's best insane netminders (via Puck Daddy).
It's a shame that he's taking a leave of absence, too. It would have been interesting to see Mr. Tea Party explain whether or not he was okay with the NHL owners taking money back from the players' union.