Rivalries fuel sports.
The NHL is no different.
Rivalries litter the NHL landscape, making it almost impossible to watch a hockey game that lacks a rivalry of some sort.
If no specific rival team exists for an NHL fanbase, there is still that one they simply cannot tolerate.
But who are these players, and what have they done to arouse the hatred of an entire fanbase?
Which fanbase hates which player the most?
Ah yes, Dustin Brown.
The captain of the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
The Anaheim Ducks are just 2-5-2 against the Los Angeles Kings since the start of the 2011-12 season.
Dustin Brown is a big reason why.
Brown put up five points in six games last year against the Ducks and already has four points in two games this year against them.
When he's not scoring, Brown is also a huge pain in the butt to play against.
After watching that video, all any rational human being can say is "ouch."
P.K. Subban comes to play when he plays the Boston Bruins.
Brad Marchand found out the hard way in 2010 when he got leveled by him.
Subban's three points in his last seven games may not be that much in the grand scheme of things, but he has definitely earned a reputation as the most hated player around Boston.
Nine points in the last seven games against Buffalo should put Phil Kessel at the top of the "most hated player" list for the Buffalo fanbase.
Sure there are in-state rivalries with the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, but with Buffalo just a stone's throw away from Ontario, there is no better battle than in the Niagara region with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
Phil Kessel beats Dion Phaneuf by a nose for "most hated player" because Phaneuf does not contribute as much offensively as Kessel does against Buffalo.
The Calgary Flames haven't been relevant in the postseason in a while.
Part of this is due to their regular season inability to stop the Sedin twins of the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks' Sedin twins have been a source of the Flames misery over the better part of the last decade.
The Sedins' torment of the Flames extends to the realms of "unfair" in some games.
The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes are bitter division rivals.
Nicklas Backstrom has two points in each of his last three games against the 'Canes.
Did someone say "'Cane Killer?"
It is always a drag as a Stanley Cup champion when one gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the next season.
Add to that the fact that it is Game 7 in overtime, and the situation gets even more testy.
But the fact that Roberto Luongo came out on top of this series, after giving up 22 goals in seven games in the first round of the 2011 Western Conference semifinals, put the icing on the cake as far as the Chicago Blackhawks were concerned.
Luongo narrowly beat out Raffi Torres (and his hit on Marian Hossa) for the most hated player by the Blachhawks' fan base, but Torres is no longer with the hated Vancouver Canucks.
Todd Bertuzzi is one of the great power forwards of all time.
But Bertuzzi has a dark mark on his career.
Moore checked Vancouver forward Markus Naslund, knocking Naslund out for three games.
Bertuzzi wanted revenge and jumped Moore from behind, while sucker punching him in the head.
Moore would never play hockey again.
As the Avalanche have no one left from the 1990s rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, Todd Bertuzzi seems like the next logical choice for most hated player in Colorado.
From the day Jeff Carter was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Columbus Blue Jackets, to the day he was traded to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Carter was never a fan favorite in Columbus.
Carter's tenure in Columbus lasted less than a year, and he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings near the trade deadline in 2012.
His impact on the ice in Los Angeles was immediately felt, as the Kings vaulted into the eighth playoff spot and went on to win the Cup.
Carter scored the Cup-clinching goal.
Oh, and Columbus?
Well, they're still the Blue Jackets.
No hard feelings, right?
Joe Thornton loves playing the Dallas Stars.
In fact, Thornton loves playing the Stars so much that he has 13 points in his last seven contests against the Stars in the regular season.
Reason for hatred from Stars fans?
The Detroit Red Wings watched Ryan Suter play against them enough last year when he was with the Nashville Predators.
This past offseason, the Red Wings made a bid to obtain Suter through free agency to help "replace" the retired Nick Lidstrom.
Suter spurned Detroit's offer and signed with Zach Parise in Minnesota.
Detroit's defense has looked nothing above average ever since.
Chris Pronger doesn't play in the NHL anymore.
Not since 2011 anyway.
In 2006, Chris Pronger requested a trade from Edmonton for "personal reasons."
Normally, this wouldn't have been a big deal, except Chris Pronger had led the Edmonton Oilers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals that same year; eventually losing to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Edmonton would go on to struggle for the next six seasons, losing a couple of draft lotteries on the way.
One wonders what might have been if Pronger had stayed in Edmonton and likely avoided his career-threatening eye injury (via National Post).
One could take the easy out and suggest the most likely hated player(s) in Edmonton are once again the Sedin twins, but that would just be copping out of the bigger picture.
Pronger could have helped Edmonton continue to attain glory with a mediocre team.
Alas, Oilers fans are left to wonder "what if?"
The Florida Panthers had one of the league's longest post-season droughts until last season.
A lot of that failure was due to their franchise goalie, Roberto Luongo, being traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld.
Bertuzzi was the best player coming back in that deal, but he played all of seven games for the Panthers (putting up four points in his first game and a total of seven points in seven games) before undergoing herniated disk surgery.
The Panthers traded him to the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline that year.
As for the Florida Panthers?
Neither Allen nor Auld is still with the Panthers.
So how exactly does one blow a 4-0 lead in a playoff game?
Skill and positioning rolled into one.
Patrick Marleau scored this goal to start the comeback in the 2011 playoffs, as the San Jose Sharks stunned the Los Angeles Kings 6-5 in overtime in this game.
The Kings of course, could care less about 2011 as the Kings won it all in 2012.
But there's still the next year's regular season to be played.
Marleau does have 15 points in the past 12 regular season games against the Kings.
Marian Gaborik scores goals.
Gaborik is the Minnesota Wild's all-time leader in goals, assists and points with 437 points in 502 games.
So when Gaborik turned down a contract extension in Minnesota, he was likely ostracized by the fans in Minnesota.
I wonder if he would have stayed another three years if he could have played with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
Brad Richards and Rick Nash (when both healthy) likely make for a far better line.
What's worse than paying a player on the roster that doesn't produce any points?
How about paying a player who isn't on the roster who doesn't produce any points.
Scott Gomez was bought out by the Montreal Canadiens after failing to produce in three seasons in Montreal.
Gomez watched his point totals go from 59 in 78 games in 2009-10 to 38 points in 80 games in 2010-11 to 14 points in 38 games in 2011-12.
The scoring drought got so bad for Gomez that at one time he went almost a full year without scoring a goal.
That prompted a website to be set up, asking whether Gomez scored last game.
The buyout that Gomez received (via CapGeek.com) shows him making $5.5 million this season alone from Montreal and $1.5 million for the two years after that.
Gomez currently plays with the San Jose Sharks, where he signed a one-year deal for $700,000.
And fans thought their team was spending frivolously.
Last season, the Nashville Predators were about $12 million under the salary cap (via CapGeek.com), with the salary cap scheduled to rise in the off-season.
But the Predators also had a boat load of restricted and unrestricted free agents to re-sign.
Ryan Suter was one of their unrestricted free agents and had other ideas in mind other than re-signing in Nashville.
The Predators sorrowfully miss Suter's presence on the power play (their power play has gone from first to 24th in the NHL) and at even strength (the Predators have been shut out five times this season).
His absence is noticeable to say the least, and Predators fans should dislike (if not hate) Suter strongly for leaving.
A good way for a player to make himself hated among his own team's fans is to take away a chance at a Stanley Cup.
And while Steve Bernier may have finally moved on from "the hit" that ended New Jersey's Stanley Cup championship hopes, Bernier will still hold a spot of resentment in Devils' fans hearts for costing them a potential championship.
Bernier took a boarding major and was ejected in Game 6 in the first period of last year's Stanley Cup Finals.
The LA Kings scored three times on the major power play, en route to a 6-1 defeat of the Devils and the Kings' first ever Stanley Cup.
Yes, Steve Bernier may have finally vanquished his demons from that hit.
No, the Devils fans will never forget about it.
Is giving a goalie a 15-year $67.5 million deal a good idea?
A resounding "no" is the answer.
The former first overall pick, Rick DiPietro, was recently sent to the minors after he cleared waivers last weekend.
Shocker: no one wants a goalie that has played just 50 games in the past five seasons who makes $4.5 million a season.
Apparently the Islanders don't want him either.
Maybe DiPietro should just take up another career because it looks like hockey isn't his thing.
Does paying $6.5 million a season to a soft, under-physical, 14-point-a-year defenseman make sense?
Okay good, because it didn't make sense to the Rangers either.
The Rangers banished Wade Redden and his 6-year, $39 million contract to the minors for the past two seasons before buying the rest of the contract out.
Redden signed with the St. Louis Blues.
Unfortunately, the Rangers are still stuck paying out $5.6 million this year to Redden (via CapGeek.com).
And one wonders why the Rangers haven't made any bold ploys via trade this season yet.
Rangers fans should hate Wade Redden more than any divisional rival.
Dion Phaneuf might not impact the score sheet very often, but the physical defenseman and captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs is not to be taken for granted.
Just ask young Stephane Da Costa.
The Battle of Ontario (contrary to what hockey pundits might say) is alive and well.
Watch how many hits Crosby takes in this video above before finally scoring.
Now that he's healthy, Crosby is one of the most talented two-way players in the NHL.
Crosby is one of the most determined and hard-working forwards in the game.
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have a bitter rivalry, and there is likely no better example in sports of this rivalry than in hockey.
Crosby just happens to be the obvious target for Flyers' fans hatred.
Ask Phoenix Coyotes fans and players what they think of Dustin Brown, and the response will probably be a combination of four-letter words.
Forget the fact that the Kings eliminated the Coyotes in the playoffs last year.
Forget the fact that the Kings won the Cup last year, and Brown was the first to lift the trophy.
This hatred is all about the way Brown plays (see video above).
One cannot simply just go knee-on-knee with a player and expect not to be hated for a significant period of time.
Add to that the fact that there were no penalties called, and the Coyotes decided to exact revenge themselves (and by doing so lose the game)—and we have the Coyotes' most hated rival player in the flesh in Dustin Brown.
Scott Hartnell is one of the toughest, grittiest forwards in the entire NHL.
Hartnell can get under the skin of opposing teams, and he is especially good at getting under the skin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fan base.
Hartnell had five points in six playoff games last year against the Penguins, as the Flyers vanquished the Pens in six games.
Scoring very timely goals (like the one above) is also something that Hartnell does well, but he doesn't hesitate to drop the gloves when necessary either.
Hatred for a team that is in the playoffs takes longer to brew than hatred for a player that a team meets in the playoffs.
That's why Kevin Bieksa gets the nod here as most hated player by the San Jose Sharks fanbase.
The San Jose Sharks have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The most recent time was Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in 2011, when Kevin Bieksa scored off a slap shot from the blue line in double overtime.
Bieksa's goal (shown above) was one of the most ridiculous bounces ever seen on a game-winning goal, but Bieksa had five points in five games against the Sharks in the series.
As easy as it would be to go with someone from the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks, this position should belong to Kevin Bieksa.
Henrik Zetterberg put up five points against the St. Louis Blues on February 1 of 2013.
With 18 points in the past 16 regular season games against the St. Louis Blues, it is easy to see why the Blues fan base could dislike Zetterberg so much.
Detroit has been a mainstay in the playoffs for over two decades now, and every year that it has made the playoffs means one less spot that the Blues could take a hold of for themselves.
Zetterberg has obviously been a big part of Detroit's success.
There is no love lost between Alex Ovechkin and the Tampa Bay Lightning fan base.
Ovechkin relishes playing the Lightning.
Not counting this year, "Ovi" has 35 points in his past 24 games against the Lightning.
Smells like a good reason for Tampa fans to hate Ovi just a little bit more.
No team's fans in the NHL hate any one player more than the Toronto Maple Leafs fans hate Daniel Alfredsson.
Whenever the Leafs play the Ottawa Senators, (whether home or away) there is always a distinct or indistinct "boo" every time Alfredsson touches the puck.
They have good reason to.
Hits like the one above, plus the fact that Alfredsson is the captain of the Sens, mean that the Leafs fans have every reason to boo him.
Tim Thomas isn't playing this year.
In fact, Tim Thomas might have played his last NHL game.
But Thomas was the difference in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
After the Bruins went down 3-2 in the series, Thomas held the Canucks to two goals in Game 6 (the Bruins won 5-2) and shut out the Canucks in Game 7 by a 4-0 score to win the Stanley Cup.
That might be the closest the Canucks come to winning the Stanley Cup while the Sedin twins and company are still in their prime.
The Canucks fans have every right to hate Tim Thomas until the Canucks get another chance to redeem themselves.
Defecting to a division rival in hockey is usually cause enough for concern.
When it happens to be a highly skilled player like Alexander Semin, the fans grow a little bit less tolerating towards the player.
Semin was "booed" briefly in his most recent trip back to the Verizon Center in Washington and rightfully so.
Steven Stamkos has 12 points in seven games against the Winnipeg Jets since they've been in Winnipeg.
One of these points was goal number 60 last year.
Who knows where the Jets will end up in the overall scheme of things in terms of realignment, but one thing is for sure: the Jets won't be in the same division as Stamkos for long.
Which picks are right?
Which picks could use some work?
Thoughts, arguments and counter-arguments are always welcome.
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