5 NHL Playoff Stars Fans Love to Hate

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIMay 23, 2013

5 NHL Playoff Stars Fans Love to Hate

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    There are some stars playing in the 2013 NHL playoffs that are hard to hate. Who honestly wants to see either Jarome Iginla or Daniel Alfredsson eliminated from contention, denied a Stanley Cup championship once again?

    On the other hand, there are several players that haven't done much to endear themselves to fans around the league.

    Whether it's a lingering reputation from a player's younger years or perceived heinous acts of brutality, there are a handful of guys still vying for the Cup that some fans loathe to their very cores.

Zdeno Chara: Boston Bruins

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    If your favorite team has played against Zdeno Chara in the playoffs at all, odds are you hate him. The hulking defender never seems to leave the ice and is always in the middle of everything for the Boston Bruins.

    He is the embodiment of the big, bad B's, and he knows it. Chara plays with a chip on his shoulder and won't hesitate to show just how strong he is when pushed too far. Everything about the man is larger than life, from his shoulder pads to his slap shot.

    Few things will make you a disliked player more quickly than being perceived as a schoolyard bully. Chara can do whatever he wants out on the ice and no one can really stop him (unless they were packing elephant tranquilizers on the bench).

    That's not a fun feeling, and fans of opposing teams tend to boo him for no apparent reason when he has the puck on his stick.

    The Max Pacioretty incident only solidified Chara's place as one of the most disliked players in the NHL.

Dustin Brown: Los Angeles Kings

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    Dustin Brown is a classic example of a guy you hate to see your team play against, but would love to have on your side.

    He has a reputation for winding up a bit too much before his infamous body checks and for starting countless scrums after plays. To say that Brown targets the top players on the opposing team wouldn't be giving him enough credit. If it moves, the captain of the Los Angeles Kings is going to hit it.

    He thrives on the physical aspect of the game and seems to love getting under the skin of opponents. Seeing your favorite guy driven into the boards by a goon is one thing. Brown has plenty of finish though, driving other squads crazy by scoring goals on top of running around like a mad man in all three zones.

    Hits like this one on Michal Rozsival don't do much to endear fans to him either.

Justin Abdelkader: Detroit Red Wings

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    Calling Justin Abdelkader a "star" may be a bit of a stretch, but he's been a top-six forward for the Detroit Red Wings all season long and has established himself as a catalyst for the squad, so we'll let it slide.

    It's been a long time since the Red Wings have had a pest like Abdelkader. Watch a Detroit game from a distance, and fellow onlookers will forgive you for thinking that Darren McCarty has come out of retirement to go after one more Stanley Cup with the Wings.

    Yet the 26-year-old Michigan native seems to bring a bit more to the table than McCarty did. Abdelkader maintains a net presence on every shift, standing there so Pavel Datsyuk can bank pucks into the net off of him—and that's when he's at his least effective.

    He's at his best when he's going into the corners and digging pucks out for his admittedly more talented teammates. Abdelkader draws penalties, works hard and hits even harder.

    After becoming public enemy number one in Round 1 against the Anaheim Ducks, he's quickly taking up that mantle against the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 2.

Patrick Kane: Chicago Blackhawks

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    You can take the party boy away from the bars, but you can't take the bars out of the party boy. At least that may be the perception of Patrick Kane around the NHL.

    Kane became infamous for his partying ways after entering the league in 2007-08 and didn't appear to clean up his act until 2013. It'll take more than one clean season to repair his tarnished reputation—whether that's fair or not is another matter entirely.

    Give fans of opposing teams easy ammunition like Kane has, and they'll be more than happy to fire it your way. No. 88 made it easy for too long and will have to lay low for more than six months to appear reformed in the eyes of fans around the league.

    Until then, message boards and comments sections will continue to be flooded with comments about Kane punching cabbies over change and getting hammered at frat parties. Of course, a Lady Byng nomination, according to CBSsports.com, might go a long way to help the cause.

Sidney Crosby: Pittsburgh Penguins

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    A note of caution to guys like Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon: Don't come into the NHL as an 18-year-old phenom and whine to the refs. Fans of opposing teams will label you a complainer, and you will never, ever live that reputation down.

    It doesn't matter how many gritty comebacks you make. It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked back down, only to stand back up stronger. And it certainly doesn't matter how hard you work to maintain your status as the best player in the game.

    If anyone else did the things that Sidney Crosby has done—bouncing back from concussions, fractured vertebrae and half-shattered faces—that person would be hailed as a hockey hero. A tough player for everyone to look up to.

    Instead, Crosby is the most polarizing player in the league because he whined as a teenager. Weird. A whiny teenager. Regardless, fans around the NHL cheer when he's knocked to the ice and boo him when he touches the puck.