The NHL is a wonderful league full of talented players and unbelievable sportsmanship.
Other times, there are malefactors who destroy the peace and yap until the once graceful game turns terribly ugly. Or that’s what we’ll tell our kids!
These instigators are all too necessary to the game and without them, the league wouldn’t be as fun to watch. As much as you hate these players, you love them if they are on your team.
They will protect your star players and force the opposition’s star players to commit bad penalties and get them off the ice. Without the punks of the ice, who would the goons try to fight? Each other? YAWN!
Enjoy this list of the 20 most hated players in the NHL right now.
As the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, Mike Richards has to be tough. The fans and management expect him to be the quintessential all around forward, just like Bobby Clarke was in the Flyers' beginnings.
Richards takes the body and isn’t afraid to punish someone for having their head down (see video). People will say that the hit on David Booth was dirty but in the NHL Rulebook, it was completely legal at the time.
He isn’t afraid of anyone on the ice and will get under peoples skin if that’s what it calls for him to do. He will hit hard and play defense which puts him against the best in the game, causing him to get in tussles often around both nets.
Mike Richards plays the game hard and anyone who plays hard will make enemies over time.
People are jealous. That's why most highly talented players are hated at some point in their career. Alex Ovechkin is no different.
He is a talented goal scorer who has a finesse for puck-handling, but that’s not all. Ovechkin has never been afraid to put a hit on someone and he has been accused of hitting defenseless forwards along the boards several times. He plays at full speed all the time and doesn’t care who he is going after.
Ovechkin is an aggressive forechecker and that tends to get on the opposition's nerves—like a gnat hovering around your head in the summer.
Alexander the Great, as he is called (I'm sure that doesn't help either) by some people (including Don Cherry) has a tendency to excessively celebrate after big goals. I like the enthusiasm but old school hockey fans don't like the "ignorance" towards the sport.
Dany Heatley has been followed by controversy his whole hockey career. After leaving college early to play for the Thrashers, Heatley became a real force in the NHL with his goal-scoring touch and his knack for being in the right spot.
He then crashed his Ferrari and killed his friend and teammate Dan Snyder in the accident. He was found guilty of vehicular homicide and suffered emotionally over what had happened. After the 2004 lockout, Heatley asked for a trade so that he could get away from Atlanta and the memories of what had happened.
After being traded to Ottawa, Heatley had a great couple of years. In 2009, Heatley requested a trade just one year after signing a six-year extension, citing the new coach and his new position with the team (minutes were cut and was put on second power-play unit, etc...). He then promptly exercised his no-trade clause when he felt he wouldn’t fit in Edmonton’s scheme.
Everything seems to be OK in San Jose so far, but if his track record is an indication of things to come, he'll be fighting with management in 2013.
Cam Janssen is hated for many reasons in the NHL. He is a goon and to that point, he's not that good of a fighter. He may not be afraid to throw hands but he isn’t always effective with his fighting. Whether it is the situation or the timing of the fight, Janssen has a tendency to do more harm than good.
Janssen is also known for taking cheap shots. He will line-up an unsuspecting player (see video) and jump into the hit. He has been suspended for his dangerous play and even his teammates won’t back his actions up.
With most fighters, he can’t score. Janssen takes this to a whole new level though. In parts of six NHL season with the Devils and the Blues, Cam Janssen only has six points. He is a waste of a roster spot on most teams and isn’t liked in most circles across the league.
Colton Orr is a player who knows his role on the ice. He plays when the team needs some aggressive play on the ice or they need someone to swing a few at the opponents. He has been known as a cheap-shot artist because he will skate around looking to land open ice hits.
Orr's method of operation is scoping out star players, waiting for them to put their head down in the open ice and trying to take off the person's head.
He tends to talk a lot and instigates many fights. Colton Orr is a snake, and he is hated across most of the NHL, not just by players but by coaches and referees as well. He will attack anyone and has a tendency to put himself and his team in a bad position. He will take bad penalties and make his teammates feel awkward after his inexcusable hits.
Matt Cooke has been around for awhile, and he is hated everywhere. He is what I like to call a headhunter. He stalks the ice for streaking forwards with their heads down and then charges them, striking their head with his shoulder or elbow.
As seen in the video above, Cooke is reckless and his hits are inexcusable. The NHL has agreed, changing the rules to try to eliminate cheap-shot hits like the ones Cooke dishes out whenever he can.
He has been suspended two times, both of which were also brutal, unnecessary hits to defenseless opponents. Other teams aim for him and fighters are like caged animals trying to get to him but he has a tendency to back down from bigger opponents. Cooke can score but his actions speak volumes about the lengths he will go to hurt his opponents.
Sidney Crosby is the ultimate cry-baby. People will claim he is hated because he is so good, like Ovechkin, but I highly disagree. Crosby has a tendency to show his spoiled side. I guess living with Super Mario didn’t do his smart-ass attitude any good. He firmly believes he is God's gift to hockey.
Crosby has a tendency to dive. That’s as impartial as I can be because there have been many the Flyers vs. Pittsburgh games where phantom calls have cost the Flyers the game. He gets obvious special treatment and is the poster child for hockey.
It wouldn’t be as bad if he didn’t whine about everything. He is constantly yapping at the refs and the other team. He never backs anything he says up and he always ends up behind the scrum just out of arms reach. He fakes injuries and shouldn’t be the poster child for anything but pampers.
See video for a beautiful example of why he is hated everywhere! (I'm looking at you Canada! I don’t care if he is from there or not. He is an ass!)
Steve Downie is a wild man. Ever since he was drafted, he has left a wake of terror and destruction behind him. He is a hot-head who will lose his cool at the drop of a hat. He is very quick to seek vengeance, and if you land a solid hit on him during a game, you better believe you've got one coming your way later.
He runs at people and tries to smash them and hurt them.He has tried to tear Crosby’s ACL, he almost killed Dean McAmmond and he sucker-punched Jason Blake.
When Don Cherry calls you out for your aggressiveness, you know you have crossed the line. His own teammates have had problems with what he has done, and it was a regular scene of him fighting teammates in scrimmages wherever he has gone. Downie can be one of the dirtiest players in the game, and that will always make you hated by everyone you affect.
Maxim Lapierre may be a solid offensive forward, but he has made plenty of enemies in his time as an NHL player. He talks a lot of trash on the ice and tends to get the opposition a little angry. He will not fight unless he is certain he can win and as seen in the video, doesn’t mind almost paralyzing someone.
Lapierre will charge people and hit players well after the play has ended, and his job is to force the opposition to take bad penalties.
As much as Maxim Lapierre will piss off the opposition, he can just as easily slip behind them and score. He is a double-edged sword that can be dangerous in many ways.
Mike Ribeiro is a young forward with a ton of talent. He is a good scorer with a nice passing touch, but he has another talent—acting. As seen in the video, he is a faker. He will fake injuries, and he is the biggest diver in the NHL. He has been heard saying that as long as the team wins, he won’t stop diving. No wonder the reputation he has makes him an outsider anywhere he goes.
It must be in the water in Dallas because a lot of dirty players and snakes end up there. Ken Hitchcock, Derian Hatcher and Mike Modano wouldn’t have let that go on 10 years ago.
If a stick gets near Ribeiro's feet, he will fall and cry wolf to the referees or just lay there and pretend to be hurt. He will throw elbows and hit people with their head down but will curl up when grabbed to fight.
As talented as he is, his reputation will follow him and he will get beheaded at center ice one day by someone he crossed in the past.
Steve Ott has developed a bad reputation over the years because of some of the bad choices he has made. He skates hard and doesn’t mind finishing his checks, no matter how late they may be.
Ott has a tendency to go after legs recklessly which can seriously hurt a player. He has been taped (see video) clearly going for the knees of an opponent, which is clearly frowned upon. After the hit, he was subsequently suspended.
He has also been known to gouge eyes and talk more than he should. When the opposition goes to fight him, he backs down and draws penalties for his team. I believe his cowardice is the main reason he is hated across the NHL. He will always not be liked by opponents as long as he plays the way he does.
Alex Burrows has a problem with officiating. He has been on the bad side of many referees, and that is worse than players having it in for you. His incident with referee Stephane Auger is the best known. Auger allegedly told Burrows that he was going to get back at him for faking an injury earlier in the season.
The accusations were just the latest in a line of bad calls that Burrows has made. He has resurrected his career with the Sedin twins, but his aggressive play remains intact. He crashes the net and gets under defensemen skin like few others can.
Burrows has a tendency to “jump” into his hits. That is, he will leave the ice to land a harder hit on an opposing player. As seen in the video, the damage that can be caused by a player jumping into a hit can be devastating.
No one likes someone who talks a bunch of trash and then won’t back it up. That’s why no one likes Adam Burish. In his short tenure in the league, he has made very little friends. He is an instigator with no backup in most cases because he gets himself in bad situations. Burish will throw sucker punches and late hits but will never fight.
The worst part of Adam Burish's game is his lack of talent. You have to walk the walk to talk the talk, but Burish has a hard time crawling let alone walking! He sat for most of the postseason for the Blackhawks and threatened to punch Chris Pronger in the face (see video).
Pronger, as usual, quipped back to the effect of he will have a hard time punching me from the minors. He hides on the bench when he is getting called out on the ice and that's going to make serious enemies across the NHL.
The Winter Classic is a game that was designed to offer the non-NHL audience a chance to see the majesty and class of the game of hockey. Then they asked the Flyers to play in the game and all that went out the window. As soon as Dan Carcillo heard the Flyers were playing in the Winter Classic, he said he would be the first to fight. Leave it to Carcillo to just start swinging in a national showcase of your sport in the hallowed walls of Fenway Park. That is Dan Carcillo in a nutshell.
Carcillo is extremely aggressive and fears no one. He is a yapper who loves to get in the ear of anyone in shouting distance and will knock you out whether you're ready or not (see video).
He curses at opposition, and if he finds out he is getting under someone’s skin, he will ride that player throughout the whole game, extending from game to game. Dan Carcillo is a talented forward, but his best talent is pissing people off.
Jordin Tootoo is a fast, physical presence that will do anything to make his point. He is also a madman. If his anger boils over, watch out because he will explode. From running at people's knees to trying to elbow them in the face (see video), Tootoo will do anything to make sure you know where he is at all times.
As if you couldn’t guess, he tends to talk a little loud in comparison to his actual fighting abilities. He will fight, but he isn’t the best at it. His method of operation is more the sneak attack or the face wash with his glove to try to get the opposition to commit a instigating penalty.
Tootoo has been suspended twice for the reckless hits he has laid out over the years. He sucker punched Stephan Robidas in a brutal attack that showed his real ugliness to the world. Tootoo has been a serious problem for years, and the NHL keeps a close eye on him—and so do the goons on opposing teams.
One of the benefits of being 6'6" is that your elbow is at just about head height to the other skaters. Maybe that will explain the hundreds of penalties and eight suspensions. Chris Pronger is as intense on the ice as you can get, and he lets his emotions get the better of him sometimes.
He is not above crosschecking someone to the ice, slashing someone’s legs or just plain stomping on an opponent’s legs with his razor sharp skates (see video). He has been known to get right under players' skin and talk people into fighting and then walking away.
Pronger is one of the most talented defenseman in the league, and he is also called one of the dirtiest. If you think about it from a head-game perspective, that’s what makes him as good as he is. The best players can't be the best with Pronger's elbow in their ear.
Todd Bertuzzi was always a gritty player, but on a fateful day in 2004 everything changed. Bertuzzi sucker-punched then Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore in the side of the head and rode his body, head first into the ice. Moore will never play hockey again, and Bertuzzi has never lived it down.
Players turned against him, organizations turned and he turned on himself. His attitude has always been bleak, and he seems to hate what he has become in the NHL. He does questionable things still like boarding and slashing that just turn people against him faster, but for some reason, he doesn’t seem to care.
As an offensive weapon, he was a great power forward for his early career. But it just goes to show you, your actions follow you no matter where you go.
Chris Neil is one of the longest-tenured tough guys in the league, mainly because of his ability to put up points on nights he isn’t creating havoc. Neil is a bona fide tough guy and takes the role very seriously. He hits hard and doesn’t mind sacrificing his body for the team.
Neil is well known for waiting for a head down and attacking. As seen in the video, he is a reckless checker and seems to want to plain hurt people sometimes. Neil has been suspended a few times but his hits are usually legal, but they are also usually blindside hits or late.
With all of the time he has spent in the NHL, it is amazing to see that not only is he still playing but he is still talking. Shouting matches are nightly occurrences every time that Neil hits the ice. His hits may be frowned upon, but the intensity he plays with every shift gets under peoples' skin.
I hate biters! Jarkko Ruutu just looks like a biter. And judging by the video, he doesn’t mind flashing the pearly whites in a fight to prove his point. He almost tore off Buffalo Sabres fighter Andrew Peters thumb off!
Ruutu has a reckless streak as well. He will lead with his elbows, and he actively tries to hurt people by hitting them in the head. He is a truly dirty player and is hated by a great number of players in the NHL.
In almost every game, you can find Ruutu squawking at the opponents and giving cheap shots to their star players. He won’t fight usually, but he talks enough to get everyone else to.
The worst part of Ruutu is his willingness to hurt someone. If players frown upon one thing more than anything else, it’s intent to hurt another player because there is mutual respect through the game. The NHL has cleaned up its image but guys like Jarkko Ruutu still give the league a bad name.
The most-hated player in the NHL by players, fans, referees and even his own teammates. He has destroyed reputations and has said so many horrible things that no amount of apologies could repair.
He will make lude comments about players' personal lives and will attack the opponents most sensitive players to get them off of their game. Avery said that all French players hide behind their visors and cannot play hockey and promptly backed down from then Los Angeles King, Ian Laperriere.
He craves attention and will do anything to get under people’s skin, like standing in front of Martin Brodeur waving his stick. Avery has hit everyone late and doesnt mind bragging about it. He has alienated organizations and has made an ass out of himself many times. To me, Avery feeds off of the controversy and if we ignore him, like the baby he really is, maybe he will go away!
Thank you for checking out my list and check out my other work on Bleacher Report under Donald Wood and the Philadelphia Flyers or on www.wolfgangsports.com!
Thanks and let me know who I missed and what you think!