Sean Avery (left) trying to get under David Clarkson's skin
It is an art and it is a skill.
Nobody can learn to trash-talk, or practice trash-talking. It is something that people are just naturally good at, some more than others.
Some players have mastered the art of trash-talking and agitating in general. Sean Avery is known all around the National Hockey League as one of the best in the NHL, but sometimes, like most agitators or "goons," he crosses the line.
Avery has been suspended on countless occasions, even going as far as talking about ex-girlfriends. Unlike most trash talkers, however, Avery can back it up with goals.
However, he is not the only player in the league who has mastered the art. The likes of Dan Carcillo and Steve Ott, who is coming off of a 22-goal season, are both comparable to Avery.
Here now is a look at the best trash-talkers and agitators in the National Hockey League.
The best of the best, or the worst of the best? No matter what you think of Sean Avery, you have to admit that his antics are always effective.
Since entering the National Hockey League 11 years ago, Avery has been possibly the most hated player in the NHL. With encounters with the likes of Darcy Tucker, Martin Brodeur and Dion Phaneuf, Sean Avery has gotten under the skin of some of the best players in the league.
You might be quick to point out that, during at least two of those encounters (Tucker and Phaneuf), Avery crossed the line. When Avery commented on his former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert, the league handed him an indefinite suspension. In a separate altercation, Avery and the New York Rangers were both fined along with Darcy Tucker and the Toronto Maple Leafs for an altercation that happened during a pregame warm-up on November 10, 2007.
Unlike most trash-talkers, however, Avery can back up what he says. Avery posted 31 points in 69 games last season and 22 points in 41 games the season before. There is no doubt he makes the Rangers better, as the team's win-loss record with him in the lineup is much better than without him.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Sean Avery is effective and, when he isn't crossing the line, a good hockey player.
"I think Chris Pronger is the biggest idiot in the league, I can't stand the guy one bit . . . I hope I never have to see him again, but if I see him out there I might punch him," Adam Burish told an NBC reporter, mere minutes after winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
However, Chris Pronger is not the only member of the Philadelphia Flyers that Adam Burish doesn't like. He and Daniel Carcillo were also jawing throughout the entire Stanley Cup finals series.
Now a member of the Dallas Stars, Burish makes his new team that much more scary and irritating to play against. With the likes of Steve Ott, Krys Barch, and now Adam Burish, teams will not be looking forward to facing the Stars.
Without a doubt, Burish makes whatever team he is playing for better. Over the span of 169 regular-season games, Burish has accumulated a total of 323 penalty minutes, while going just -12.
Even better, he always seems to kick it up a notch in the playoffs. In 32 career playoff games, the 6'0", 189 lbs Burish has tallied just 32 PIMs, but is a +2. There is no doubt he was one of the most underrated players on the Blackhawks roster during their Stanley Cup run.
As you can see, Burish's tactics are nothing but effective and the Dallas Stars are lucky to have him on the team.
Over the past few seasons, Daniel Carcillo has made a real name for himself all around the league. With his big mouth and scoring ability, Carcillo is one of the most hated in the National Hockey League by fellow players, coaches and general managers. However, if he became a member of your favourite team, he would all of a sudden become one of your favourite players.
Much like Adam Burish, the 25-year-old Carcillo was a huge part of his team's playoff run. Falling just short in the Stanley Cup finals, he almost helped lead the Philadelphia Flyers to the biggest hockey prize of all.
Much like Sean Avery, Carcillo can back up what he says. Although he doesn't put up a big amount of points, Carcillo is still effective and would be a great addition to almost any power play. In 225 career regular-season games, the 6'0", 205 lbs Carcillo has scored 32 goals (nine on the power play) and assisted 67 times while tallying 859 penalty minutes.
Carcillo's only problem is that he crosses the line too often. Due to illegal hits, the things he says, and more, Carcillo has been suspended on countless occasions.
Known by some as one of the dirtiest players in the National Hockey League, Patrick Kaleta, just like Daniel Carcillo, is no stranger to disciplinary action.
Matthew Barnaby, former NHL pest and now a hockey analyst for ESPN and the NHL on TSN, had this to say about the young Sabres enforcer when asked which player reminds him of himself the most:
"I look at Buffalo and a kid who was just called up - Patrick Kaleta. He wears my number, No. 36. He doesn't fight as much as I did, but he certainly will make a name for himself. He hits very hard and he gets under the skin of a lot of players."
That is high praise for the 24-year-old from someone who used to be one of the best at trash-talking. Although Kaleta isn't as much of a fighter as the players previously mentioned, he does manage to put up enough penalty minutes to average over a minute per game (240 PIMs in 153 games).
If the Sabres make it deep into the playoffs in 2011, Kaleta will be a huge part of it. He has a tremendous ability to get players off their game and play much worse. In the 2010 playoffs, Kaleta played in just six games, posting a +/- rating of +4. He also scored a goal and added an assist.
Known more for being a fighter, Steve Ott tallied 153 penalty minutes in just 73 games last season. The Dallas Stars' alternate captain is one of the best in league at getting under the skin of opposing players. Like most of the other players mentioned, however, Ott is known by a lot of people as a dirty player.
The 28-year-old has been suspended for incidents that include gouged eyes and head shots. Nevertheless, he is someone every player, coach, general manager and fan wishes was on their team. Even in the final game of the season with his team out of the playoffs, he still doesn't give up.
What is even more impressive is that he puts up so many penalty minutes while scoring 20+ goals. Last season, the native of Summerside, Prince Edward Island scored 22 goals and assisted on another 14 while collecting 153 PIMs in 73 games. The season before, 2008-2009, he scored 19 goals and assisted on another 27 while collecting 135 PIMs, all in just 64 games.
A case could be made that Steve Ott is the best in the business when it comes to agitating, whether it is fighting or trash-talking.
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