Hockey is kind of like a fast-paced thriller: there are antagonists and there are protagonists. There are players who you want to do well and there are players whom you wish had never been drafted.
Due to the passion and speed involved, there will always be guys who will simply go too far. These players will receive a lot of notoriety because of their bad deeds, but it is important to note that they do not represent the sport of hockey as a whole.
True hockey fans understand that the sport must be played with an edge and occasionally a mistake may occur, but a line must be drawn.
This is my list of the top 10 most hated players in the past 15 NHL seasons.
Hall of Famer Scott Stevens was not a cheap-shot artist. Perhaps the greatest checker the game has ever seen, Stevens would never back down, even if that meant annihilating a player who no longer had, or who had not yet received the puck.
Scott Stevens wasn’t a dirty player; he got his reputation by dominating those he played against.
Ruutu is the first true cheap-shot artist on this list. Though Ruutu is best known for his boarding hit on Darcy Tucker, he is also a threat offensively.
He plays for Team Finland in the Olympics and usually has a respectful season as a second or third line winger. Despite these facts, he will also be remembered for the cheap shot that earned him a three-game suspension in 2009.
As a Flyers fan, it is tough to put Pronger on this list, but I am not naïve. During his career, Pronger has been suspended eight times and is one of the few players to ever be suspended more than once in the same playoff year. Since his arrival in Philadelphia, he has calmed a bit and has yet to be suspended wearing the “Flying P,” but the “Pronger Elbow” will surface again; it is only a matter of time.
Tie Domi was a hated player who really knew how to get under the opponent’s skin. A true pest, Domi was suspended three times and was the cliché hockey “tough guy": he fought, he hit, he had an ugly smile and he even fought with fans. Most non-hockey fans will probably remember Tie Domi as the guy who got into a fight with the Philadelphia Fan in the penalty box.
Darcy Tucker revolutionized the word “Dive.” Every time things got physical, there was Tucker sprawled out on the ice holding his face or leg or whatever injury that would be instantly nursed to health so he could be on the next shift. Tucker is one of those rare players who was known for both throwing cheap shots and being on the receiving end of a severe one himself (a rough boarding incident at the hands of Tuomo Ruutu.)
Avery exists simply to get under the skin of the opposing team and to knock them off their game. In a poll of NHL players in 2007, over 66 percent agreed that Avery was the most hated player in the NHL. Most non-hockey fans will remember Sean Avery for his “Sloppy Seconds” comment, which got him cut by the Stars. Sean Avery really contributes nothing to his team offensively or defensively. It is a wonder how guys like this even get into a professional sports league…
Since 2004, Cooke has been the recipient of suspensions on four occasions and has been at the epicenter of the recent debate on head hits in the NHL. The new rules about head hits in the league will likely lead to even more suspensions for Cooke in the future. The hit seen in this video resulted in no supplemental discipline.
Marty McSorley was the culprit of one of the worse on-ice incidents in the past 15 years. After a pretty heated history with Donald Brashear, McSorley went too far and used his stick to club Brashear in one of the most appalling cheap shots in NHL history. The incident resulted in assault charges and McSorley would never again skate in the league.
I will just let the video speak for itself on this one. Everyone has already beat the Todd Bertuzzi issue to death…
Chris Simon is one of the most hated players in NHL history. After assaulting Ryan Hollweg in March 2007, Simon was given a record breaking 25-game suspension. This should have served as a sign to clean up his act, but he then attempted to injure Jarkko Ruutu in December 2007, which resulted in him breaking his own record with a 30-game suspension. During his career, Simon has been slapped with eight suspensions and no longer plays in the NHL.