In this day and age, Matt Cooke might fight for a spot in the rankings of most hated players. But how does he match up against enforcers and despised players of the past?
As he gets older and older, and the end of his career becomes closer in his viewfinder, it may be time to put him on the ballot.
Regardless of whether or not he makes the grade, he will be remembered by both fans and players—particularly by players who he injured.
What he can be most famously recognized for is capturing the NHL's attention by dishing out too many head shots to the point where they had to form a rule. Sean Avery did the same with his screening technique on Martin Brodeur in the 2008 playoffs.
Cooke's hit on Marc Savard last season will go down in the history books for both changing the rules of hockey and for putting Savard's career on the line (as he has suffered from too many concussions now).
Although I may not "hit" every big check in the NHL archives, these five stick out to me the most.
You asked for them and we got them: the five (in no particular order) most infamous hits in NHL history.
Claude Lemieux bowled Kris Draper into the boards during the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs. Some say that this hit and this game sparked the rivalry between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings.
One of hockey's most famous quotes came from Red Wings player Dino Ciccarelli after the Avalanche won the series: "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand."
Of course the comment was in reference to Lemieux.
He was only suspended for two games.
The check that got away, Matt Cooke did not receive any suspension for this head shot on Marc Savard.
What did Savard get? A Grade 2 Concussion and he missed two months of puck in the 2010 season.
Dale Hunter received a 21-game suspension (at the start of the next season) after this late check in the 1993 playoffs—at the time it was the longest suspension in NHL history.
Pierre Turgeon, the victim, suffered from a separated shoulder and missed most of the remaining playoff games for the Islanders.
Tie Domi missed the rest of the 2001 playoffs after this dirty elbow.
The blow was enough to knock Scott Niedermayer unconscious.
Not only did Marty McSorley receive a league-leading 23-game suspension and another year suspension after that (through February 21, 2001), but he was also charged with assault with a weapon by British Columbian courts.
Donald Brashear fell to the ice unconscious and suffered from a Grade 3 concussion during this regular-season game on February 21, 2000.
McSorley would never play hockey again after the incident.