In the television show Dirty Jobs, host Mike Rowe looks at some of the most unusual, disgusting, demanding and downright strangest ways that a human being can make a living. Hockey is no different than the real world. There are dozens of thankless jobs around the NHL that have equally taxing challenges that would make some people squirm.
There are also jobs that are challenging and unpleasant because of the circumstances surrounding them. The person holding the position before you could have been particularly memorable, or the person working next to you could be particularly forgettable.
While I encourage suggestions in the comment section for equally unpleasant employment scenarios, here is my top 10 list of the worst jobs in NHL history. Enjoy now!
Fashionista Sean Avery has proven that he can be as much of a pain in the butt off the ice as he is on it. As one of the most hated hockey players, pretty much ever, it had to be a treat to be in an away city with that guy as your bunk-mate.
When he wasn't preening in the mirror or asking you if his vest made him look fat, you probably had to have your head on a swivel to see if any loony fans were going to take a swipe at the loud-mouthed Avery.
See that guy in the photo? He is Scotty Bowman, the most decorated NHL coach in history. He holds the record for the most wins (1244) in NHL history and has won nine Stanley Cups.
Were you looking at the guy on the left with the ill-conceived World War II mustache? Because if you were, that gentleman's name is Dave Lewis. He was an assistant to Scotty Bowman during Detroit's Stanley Cup wins of 1997, 1998 and 2002.
When Bowman retired after the 2002 Stanley Cup, the reins of the defending champions (arguably one of the best teams in NHL history) were handed to long-time assistant Lewis. In his two years behind the Red Wings' bench Lewis won the division each year with 48 wins each season, but had a two-year playoff record of 6-10.
The Wings were swept out of the playoffs in defense of their 2002 Stanley Cup and were bounced in the second round the following year. Lewis was another casualty of the 2004-05 lockout as his contract was not renewed when the lockout ended.
I imagine that when you are in dental school they don't prepare you for the type of damage that can be done by taking a stray puck, stick, skate, octopus or fist to the Chiclets. While the trauma caused by broken teeth can be grotesque and painful, attempting to fix these broken smiles has to be challenging.
Modern dentistry has come leaps and bounds from the good old days, but a hockey smile always seems to look the same.
Imagine Michael Jordan being traded to the Washington Wizards after he won the first of his championships with Chicago. For you young whippersnappers who don't remember exactly who Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan were, think Sidney Crosby without the injuries (and petulance) or LeBron James (with more heart).
As beloved as Crosby, James and Jordan are/were in their respective cities, Gretzky was a national treasure for Canada in Edmonton. When LeBron James left Cleveland there was outrage in Ohio and jerseys were burned. There was no trade, and therefore no one to step into the massive footprint left behind by King James.
In Edmonton, the Oilers chose to move Gretzky. They knew they couldn't afford him so they made what they thought was the best possible exchange for The Great One. The centerpiece of the deal returning to Edmonton was actually the $15 million in cash the Oilers received.
But on the ice it was Jimmy Carson.
Carson was a high-scoring center for the Los Angeles Kings who had just dropped 55 goals and 107 points in his sophomore season in the NHL. Though no one really expected for Carson to replace Gretzky, the enormous pressure on him eventually led him to demand a trade out of Edmonton after just one season with the Oilers.
Ironically, the players Edmonton received for Carson would be key elements to the Oilers' 1990 Stanley Cup run. In another fun twist, Carson would be shipped back to Los Angeles as Gretzky's teammate five years after the original trade. The Gretzky trade quite possibly ruined Carson's once-promising career.
Even if he was a likeable chap, people would still find a way to hate Gary Bettman.
Pretty much every commissioner in every sport is reviled as the representation of "The Man." The "Man" keeps us down, oppresses us, and is the position of authority and power that us common folk resent. In almost every sport, when the commissioner is introduced at a draft or a championship he is generally given an icy reception
These people are figureheads in the sports that we watch and love. They have to make the difficult and often unpopular decisions that most of the sporting world don't understand. They typically have a keen sense of what is best for the long-term survival of the sport, but are crucified as the face of what fans perceive as "ruining" their sport.
I'm not personally a fan of Gary Bettman, but I don't think of him as a miserly little troll either. I think he is very much concerned with his legacy as commissioner of the NHL and believe that it eats at him that he lost an entire season in 2004-05. I felt like the lockout would ultimately end mainly because of the shame that would be laid squarely (fairly or not) on Bettman's shoulders.
Bettman isn't a hockey guy. He came from the NBA. That alone causes resentment from some die-hard hockey fans. It could be argued (and has by me in the past) that Bettman's background doesn't lend itself to a genuine interest in the sport.
While I do feel that he does care about the NHL, you'll have a tough time convincing me that hockey takes a back seat to what Bettman loves most: himself.
With the above banner literally hanging overhead, Montreal goalie Carey Price surely feels as much pressure during regular season games as most other net-minders do in playoff games. Ever since Roy's notorious departure from Les Habitants in 1995, almost every other goalkeeper to stand between the legendary Montreal pipes has crumbled.
Jose Theodore did his best to emerge from the shadow with a Hart Trophy season in 2002, but failed to produce the postseason success that made his predecessor a legend.
Carey Price (pictured with Roy) is the most recent goaltender to step into the spotlight. At only 25 years old Price seems like he has the personality to handle the scrutiny of an unforgiving Montreal media.
He still needs a signature playoff run to make Canadiens' fans forget a little about St. Patrick, but Price seems like he may have the fortitude to emerge from the shadow of the fabled "33."
The weight of expectations can dangle from your neck like an albatross. For many young players the combination of money, fame and success can be overwhelming. The top draft picks in every sport are never guaranteed to achieve success and greatness at the top level in their sport.
For many players, hitting that wall is unconscionable and unplanned. Having never failed in life, even elite athletes lack the ability to cope with failure, or even coping with not meeting expectations.
The NHL is no different. For every Sidney Crosby, there will be at least two or three Alexandre Daigles.
Granted, Daigle was an extreme case of failed expectations, but he can be considered a cautionary tale to all the "can't miss" prospects out there who have been told by everyone that their dookie doesn't stink.
We all know that King Henrik Lundqvist is happily married, but he wasn't always. Imagine being his buddy when you go out to the bar and thinking "Damn, I'm doing something right today. All these ladies are checking me out!"
Then you realize you're standing next to that guy in the picture. I guess the silver lining would be that there's only one Lundqvist and a room full of ladies. At least hanging with that dude would get you into some conversations that you might not be in if you were going it solo.
Hey, those little fish that hang out with the great white sharks never go hungry either, right?
Big Buff has always battled the bulge since his days in Chicago, and this summer was no different as Byfuglien (x 2) showed up at Dave Bolland's wedding.
Granted, athletes deserve their down time as much, if not more than the rest of us, but when your body is your money maker, you might want to treat it a little better.
Byfuglien is a tremendous talent, and he will undoubtedly be ready to help Winnipeg sprint to the playoffs. However, how would you like to be the guy who has to keep that player fit when you see those offseason pictures?
What can be considered the most pressure-filled jobs in sports was just made easier by the recent termination of Brian Burke and hiring of Dave Nonis. Missing the playoffs can ultimately be to blame for Burke losing his job, but there was an exponential amount of bad luck that befell the Maple Leafs in recent years.
Burke has put together a solid foundation with Toronto with a ton of young talent, while keeping the Leafs' payroll at a very manageable level.
Nonis stands to reap the benefits of most of the work that Burke has done, but if the postseason drought continues this year and beyond, expect the heat to be turned up on him as well.