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10 Most Controversial NHL Players of All Time

James MaahsContributor IIINovember 29, 2012

10 Most Controversial NHL Players of All Time

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    Controversy has always been a staple of the National Hockey League.

    Players who check other players along the boards, throw down their gloves to start a fight or take cheap shots while the referee isn't looking, start controversy on the ice.

    It may very well be a strategic part of the game: start controversy to knock opposing players off of their games. Teams start fights in order to sway the momentum in their favor, so why not have a controversial player on your team?

    Regardless, some controversial players are more infamous than others, and they deserve some recognition.

    These are the ten most controversial NHL players of all time: 

Patrick Roy

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    Patrick Roy is recognized as one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, but he was involved in a very controversial game for the Montreal Canadiens.

    On December 2, 1995, the last game Roy ever played with the Canadiens saw him give up nine goals on 26 shots against the Detroit Red Wings. Montreal fans jeered Roy anytime he made a save, prompting him to at one point to raise up his hands to the crowd in frustration.

    After the game, Roy told team president Ronald Corey "This is my last game in Montreal." Roy would later say that the coach kept him in the game in order to humiliate him.

    Four days later, Roy was traded to the Quebec Nordiques—a team who would later become the Colorado Avalanche.

Ulf Samuelsson

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    With the reputation of a cheap and dirty player, Ulf Samuelsson was involved in a controversial hit during Game 3 of the 1991 Wales Conference Final.

    It was a knee on knee cheap shot against Cam Neely—a hit that is blamed for cutting Neely's career short.

    No penalty was called on the play and Samuelsson glided back to the bench like nothing had happened. 

Mike Milbury

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    Mike Milbury might be more well know for his work as a hockey commentator than a hockey player.

    But the infamous "shoe incident" still makes Milbury one of the most controversial players to ever play in the NHL.

    Following a 4-3 Boston Bruins victory over the New York Rangers on December 23, 1979, a fight broke out on the ice between the two teams. Milbury and a few other teammates charged into the stands to to settle their fight with the fans.

    The rest is history as Milbury took the shoe of one of the fans and hit him on the head with it. 

    The controversial incident resulted in a six game suspension and a $500 fine for Milbury.

Dale Hunter

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    Dale Hunter has a pretty decent career behind him, accumulating 323 career goals and 1020 points.

    But Hunter will forever be remembered for his cheap hit on Pierre Turgeon in Game 6 of the 1993 Patrick Division Semifinals.

    Turgeon stole the puck from Hunter and skated past him for a breakaway that lead to a goal. Right after the goal was scored, Turgeon started to celebrate but Hunter pushed him from behind into the boards.

    Turgeon sustained a separated shoulder which caused him to miss significant time in the playoffs.

    Hunter was later suspended for the first 21 games of the 1993-94 season, which was at the time, the longest suspension in league history.

Tie Domi

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    Tie Domi has a history of fighting some of the game's toughest opponents, but he was also a very controversial player that didn't shy away from a fight.

    The video shows Domi getting involved with a fan. The exchange gets heated and the fan decides to jump into the penalty box.

    Needless to say, Domi was fined $1,000 by the NHL for the incident.

Todd Bertuzzi

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    Todd Bertuzzi has always been known as an agitator, a player that tries to get under the opponent's skin.

    This video shows one of the most controversial plays to happen just before the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

    In 2004, Bertuzzi took it upon himself to sucker punch Steve Moore in order to get his attention. It not only worked, but both teams were up in arms about the situation.

    The punch led to Bertuzzi being suspended indefinitely by the NHL and IIHF, but he was reinstated in August of 2005.

    Moore was eventually forced to retire due to injuries sustained by the on-ice attack.

Alex Burrows

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    Alex Burrows has always been a very controversial hockey player.

    When he's not biting fingers or pulling someone's hair, Burrows is complaining about the referees and how they cost the Vancouver Canucks the game.

    Known around the league as a notorious "diver," Burrows will do just about anything to win a fight or start a scrum on the ice.

Jeremy Roenick

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    Jeremy Roenick has never shied away from the limelight, so it is understandable why he is such a controversial hockey player.

    From his controversial assessments of other players and coaches, to his calling out of the referees for a bad call, Roenick will always be remembered for his big-time play and equally big mouth.

    This video of Roenick trash talking Patrick Roy shows how he loved to stir up controversy among his fellow players.

Claude Lemieux

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    Claude Lemieux had a reputation for being a dirty and very controversial player.

    Most of the controversy came from cheap shots and hits that were considered to be avoidable.

    Lemieux's check on Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings was one of his more controversial hits.

    Lemieux's check on Draper was from behind, and to make matters worse, Draper suffered multiple injuries including a concussion, broken jaw and broken nose. The injuries required reconstructive surgery for Draper.

    To this day, Red Wings fans still hate Claude Lemieux.

Sean Avery

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    Sean Avery has enjoyed a long NHL career as a pest. He was ranked by TSN as the NHL's most hated player.

    His agitating style and aggressive play has led to more than one controversy during his stay in the NHL.

    Avery is most known for his actions in what led up to the "Sean Avery Rule." 

    In a playoff game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, Avery attempted to screen goaltender Martin Brodeur of the Devils. Instead of facing the play while screening Brodeur, Avery turned around and taunted the goaltender for the entire duration of the power play.

    At the time, Avery was not violating any rule in the NHL, he was simply screening the goaltender in a very unsportsmanlike manner.

    The very next day, the NHL ruled that any player caught taunting the goalie such as the way Avery did, would receive a unsportsmanlike minor penalty.

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