Contact breeds contempt, and with contempt comes violence.
Hockey is the breeding ground for troublemakers who wish to take advantage of the ability to use their body as a weapon.
Some players thrive on infuriating other players and making life difficult for the opposition. They make it their business to get in people’s faces and force them to lose their cool.
They win when the other team loses their composure and it allows the troublemakers team to take advantage of the situation.
The following list is my top 20 most hated players and why I hate them. Or love them. Either way, they pissed a ton of people off and smiled all the way to the bank.
Please enjoy and let me know what you think!
Jarkko Ruutu, F, Ottawa Senators-Vancouver Canucks-Pittsburgh Penguins
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!
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.
Chris Neil, F, Ottawa Senators
Chris Neil is one of the longest-tenured tough guys in the league, mainly because of his ability to put up points on nights where 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 player with his 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.
Chris Pronger, D, St. Louis Blues-Edmonton Oilers-Anaheim Ducks-Philadelphia Flyers
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 Chris Pronger's hundreds of penalties and eight suspensions. 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, 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, F, New York Islanders-Vancouver Canucks-Florida Panthers-Detroit Red Wings-Anaheim Ducks-Calgary Flames
Todd Bertuzzi was always a gritty player, but on a fateful day in 2004 everything changed.
Bertuzzi sucker-punched 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 and organizations turned against him, and he turned on himself.
His attitude has always been bleak, and he seems to hate what he has become in the NHL.
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.
Sidney Crosby, F, Pittsburgh Penguins
Preface: Crosby is a great hockey player but…
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 Flyers-Penguins 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.
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!)
Scott Stevens, D, Washington Capitals-St. Louis Blues- New Jersey Devils
Scott Stevens is one of the hardest-hitting defenders to ever grace the NHL. As seen in the video, he wasn’t making friends with the style of play he was using.
Stevens hit low at the knees and threw elbows at ear level. Just ask Eric Lindros how legal Stevens hit people.
As devastating of a hitter as Stevens was, he was a great defender throughout his career. He helped lead the Devils to the promised land and managed to piss off a lot of people along the way.
The Devils defender made lives miserable through his career and it was just part of his game to “finish” his checks. His style of play has made him hated across the NHL, but respected.
Theo Fleury, F, Calgary Flames-Colorado Avalanche-New York Rangers-Chicago Blackhawks
Theo was a gnat.
Fleury was a bowling ball that used his physical play to make his mark on the game. At 5'6", he was undersized for the NHL but used his fearlessness to piss everyone off.
An admitted alcoholic and drug addict, Fleury has waged claims about players, management and the NHL hierarchy. In his book Playing with Fire, he claims the NHL wouldn’t suspend him for failing drug tests because he was a top scorer in the league.
With all the trash he has talked to the public about the NHL, it’s no wonder he is widely viewed as one of the most hated players in NHL history.
Esa Tikkanen, F, Edmonton Oilers-New York Rangers-St. Louis Blues-New Jersey Devils-Vancouver Canucks-Florida Panthers-Washington Capitals
Esa Tikkanen was a pest and a talker.
His teammates called his speech “Tiki Talk” because he spoke quickly and in half-English, half-Finnish slurs. He would talk a lot and the other teams had no idea what he was saying, but they knew it was negative.
Tikkanen helped protect Wayne Gretzky and let the role of protector follow him wherever he went. He became notorious for his dedication to the role and made people hate playing against him.
Even with his willingness to throw the body, Esa scored a ton of points through his time in Edmonton and other stops. He was a solid two-way forward that was one of the biggest pests in history.
Ken Linseman, F, Philadelphia Flyers-Edmonton Oilers-Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs
Ken Linseman was affectionately known as "Rat" during his career.
Linseman was drafted by the Flyers to be a strong offensive force and a threat defensively. He was going to be the forward that took the reins from Bob Clarke when he was finished his career.
Before coming to the NHL, he was criminally charged in junior hockey for kicking an opponent in the head with his skate, and the reputation followed him.
Bobby Clarke nicknamed him The Rat for his skating style, but he was a rat in his method of play. He was gritty and did whatever it took to get in people’s heads; he was a nightmare throughout his career.
Darius Kasparaitis, D, New York Islanders-Pittsburgh Penguins-Colorado Avalanche-New York Rangers
Darius Kasparaitis was one of the best pests to play the game. He was a solid defensive defenseman and played hard every night.
Kasper, as he was called, got under people’s skin with his 100 percent effort on every play. He finished his checks and smashed anything that moved on the ice. He was a brutal hitter and made people feel his presence.
He was a talker on the ice, but most people hated him for his brutal hits that were sometimes overboard. These hits may have been illegal, but it was the way he played the game and he didn’t compromise his style for anyone.
Kasper was a tough guy that pissed a ton of people off in his time in the NHL.
Chris Simon, F, Quebec Nordiques-Colorado Avalanche-Washington Capitals-Chicago Blackhawks-New York Rangers-Calgary Flames-New York Islanders-Minnesota Wild
One of the wildest players in NHL history, Chris Simon has been in trouble his whole career.
Simon has been suspended a total of eight times for a total of 65 games. He has been accused of not being able to keep his cool, and the video proves as much.
He has stomped on other players, used racial slurs, and made the game worse for wear. I am glad he has decided to grace mother Russia with his presence.
His infamous moment is the video on this slide, the slash of Ryan Hollweg’s throat. It was a brutal moment and something that the popular media will really ride against hockey. The sport is already an outcast according to the mainstream, and they look for any reason to belittle the league.
Chris Simon was great fuel for the battle against the NHL.
Marty McSorley, D/F, Pittsburgh Penguins-Edmonton Oilers-Los Angeles Kings-New York Rangers-San Jose Sharks-Boston Bruins
Marty McSorley has become infamous for his incident against Donald Brashear in 2000.
McSorley was always a tough guy that was physical and would stand up against anyone who would throw hands. He used the corners as his playgrounds and was one of the dirtiest players ever to disgrace the game.
As seen in the video, he crossed a big line.
After losing in a fight to Donald Brashear, McSorley was stewing. You could see he was writhing mad after Brashear seemed to mock him from the penalty box.
A while later, McSorley skated behind Brashear and took an unbelievably hard shot at the side of Brashear’s head. On October 4, 2000, a jury found McSorley guilty of assault with a weapon for his attack on Brashear. He was sentenced to 18 months probation.
Rightfully, he has never played an NHL game since.
Matthew Barnaby, F, Buffalo Sabres-Pittsburgh Penguins-Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Rangers-Colorado Avalanche-Chicago Blackhawks-Dallas Stars
Barnaby was a career pest, but now he is an analyst on ESPN. I just wanted to say that he represents the sport respectfully.
When he was a player, not so much on the respect front.
Matthew Barnaby spent all of his time hitting people and following through his checks as well as talking smack all game. When he wasn’t hitting you, he was telling you about how it was coming soon.
His moment of ultimate hatred happened against Philadelphia. During a brawl, a presumably injured Barnaby writhed in pain while the fight escalated behind him. Flyers goalie Garth Snow poked Barnaby in the side and Barnaby hopped right up and attacked him.
Barnaby was hated in his time in the NHL and that’s why he fits this list so well.
Ulf Samuelsson, D, Hartford Whalers-Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Rangers-Detroit Red Wings-Philadelphia Flyers
Ulf Samuelsson was a true nightmare on the ice. He played recklessly, and on several occasions seemed to be intentionally trying to hurt the opposition.
As seen in the video, the great Don Cherry shows the true nature of the beast.
He played hard and maybe his wildness made these accidents seem intented with ill will, but there is no question of whether or not he was hated.
Every team in the NHL was affected by his carelessness during his career and he left his mark on every person he checked.
As a teammate, he was loved for his all-out play, but the opposition despised him.
Dave Schultz, F, Philadelphia Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins-Los Angeles Kings-Buffalo Sabres
Dave “The Hammer” Schultz was one of the best fighters of his era and one of the toughest men to ever step on the ice.
Schultz was the main enforcer on a tough Flyers team of the 1970s and holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a season with 472 during the 1974–75 season.
He didn’t win every fight, but he fought angry and when he landed shots they usually left a mark. There is video proof of hair-pulling and face-raking, and he doesn’t regret any of it.
It was a bad choice for anyone to cross Schultz or any Flyer because the threat of repercussion from one of the hardest-hitting, meanest men to ever hit the ice was too great.
Sean Avery, F, New York Rangers-Detroit Red Wings-Los Angeles Kings-Dallas Stars
Avery is the most hated player in the NHL today. He is hated 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 rude comments about players' personal lives and will attack the opponent’s 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 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 doesn’t 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!
Dave “Tiger” Williams, F, Toronto Maple Leafs-Vancouver Canucks-Detroit Red Wings-Los Angeles Kings-Hartford Whalers
Dave Williams was one of the toughest enforcers to ever play the game and was a thorn in the side of many teams in the NHL.
Williams wasn’t afraid of anyone and regularly fought people bigger than him with much success. He went toe-to-toe with Dave Schultz and some of the best enforcers to ever play the game.
Tiger is the NHL all-time leader in penalty minutes with 3,966 and was no slouch offensively as well. He was a solid two-way forward who wasn’t huge in stature but was a force to be reckoned with on the ice.
His most infamous moment came when he hit Pittsburgh Penguin Dennis Owchar with his stick. He was charged with assault, but acquitted.
Tie Domi, F, Toronto Maple Leafs-New York Rangers-Winnipeg Jets
Tie Domi took his role as agitator to the extreme.
He was a pest and didn’t use his head all the time. Domi was suspended for eight games and fined for a punch that knocked out Ulf Samuelsson of the New York Rangers, and that wasn’t the only bad choice the man made.
Domi also threw an elbow at the head of New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer and knocked him unconscious in the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Tie’s most infamous moment happened in Philly: He squirted water on a fan and another fan jumped onto the penalty box glass. The glass fell in and Domi got a couple quick shots on the fan before the refs broke it up.
As a Philly guy, Domi has a special place with me because of all he did against the Flyers.
Dale Hunter, F, Quebec Nordiques-Washington Capitals-Colorado Avalanche
Dale Hunter was an intense player who never slowed down, even after the whistle.
While with the Capitals in 1993, Hunter destroyed Pierre Turgeon after he scored a goal on one of his turnovers. He was suspended 21 games for the action, which is still one of the 10 longest suspensions in NHL history.
Hunter is the only NHL player to score over 1,000 points and punch his way to 3,000 penalty minutes.
He is second all-time with 3,565 penalty minutes and was always one of the most feared players in NHL history.
Claude Lemieux, F, Montreal Canadiens-New Jersey Devils-Colorado Avalanche-Phoenix Coyotes-Dallas Stars-San Jose Sharks
No surprises here, Claude “The Turtle” Lemieux is your most hated player in NHL history.
He has done so many despicable things in his career and made so many poor choices that it is a wonder why he was allowed in the NHL for as long as he was.
Lemieux is hated by me personally for two main reasons: the Kris Draper incident and the Howard Stern-Stanley Cup incident.
The video shows what happened in the Draper incident, and I don’t hate Lemieux for the hit. He should’ve been penalized, but Draper turns and it looks like Lemieux didn’t mean to shove him face-first. Draper suffered a concussion, broken jaw, broken nose and a broken cheekbone.
What angers me is the way he acted after and how he acted against the Red Wings from then on.
He helped create on of the fiercest rivalries in the NHL in recent memory between Colorado and Detroit.
As a fan of Howard Stern, I was worried when Claude was going to bring the Cup to the show. My fears were realized when a cast member supposedly defecated in the Cup. I was so mad that he desecrated the Stanley Cup that I stopped listening to Stern.
I don’t blame Howard; I blame Claude.