I'm going to try and make this a little less traditional than your usual "most hated players" article. Because they are mildly predictable and everyone knows who is going to be on the slides for at least half of the teams.
And there is no fun in that—in knowing that Jarkko Ruutu is going to be the representative of the Ducks, Sean Avery for the Rangers, and so on.
So I'm going to look at "hated" from a bit of a different standpoint. I'm going to pick the guy on each team that other fans love to boo and dislike for various other reasons. Players like Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton draw just as much, if not more irritation, than some of their dirty counterparts.
When a team loses, who is their go-to goat. Who is the constant in trade rumors and speculation.
We're looking for players that drive fans nuts. Both opposing and hometown. Who do people love to rip on during playoff runs and question during regular season slumps? So without further delay, here are my picks for every team's most hated on player.
There is just something about Ryan Getzlaf's swagger and sneer that drives me nuts. He's an incredibly talented player that I'd take on my team in a heartbeat. But opposing him?
I remember the battles Anaheim and Detroit were having a few seasons back, and few groups of players got under my skin like the Pronger-led Ducks did. And Getzlaf was at the top of my list. Face washing and yapping away on one shift, and scoring a goal the next.
There are few things more obnoxious than watching the player who is irritating you celebrate a goal.
Zdeno Chara will probably need a few body guards next season when he plays in Canada. Which is saying something since he may very well be a bouncer in another dimension somewhere.
But after the Incident, Chara was already a wanted man north of the boarder. Toss in a pretty nasty Final against the Canucks and he probably won't be welcome at too many bars any time soon. (Which is a shame. I understand that Canada makes some wonderful brew.)
For whatever reason, a lot of fans around the NHL think that Ryan Miller is overrated, and not as good as people give him credit for.
I for one don't agree with the haters on this one, but the fact remains—outside of the Olympics a lot of people love to give this a player a hard time. Perhaps it's because his teams success more or less has depends on Miller for a few seasons now, so when the Sabres are winning, it's all Miller. When they are losing, well... it's "Not Miller Time."
The Flames were probably expecting a little more from this guy when they signed him to a pretty lucrative contract a few seasons back. But seven goals is pathetic.
Argue all you want, but when Jay Bouwmeester is put up against my favorite measuring stick for the usefulness of all defenders—Ruslan Salei, of course—he really doesn't shimmer and shine all that much more than the Soviet journeyman.
Salei's best offensive seasons are right up there with what Bouwmeester has turned in in Calgary.
All joking aside (because I know who is the better blueliner here) Bouwmeester was brought in to do some very specific things. And he hasn't done them. That's aggravating to a Flames fan-base sick of underachievers, and makes the other 29 teams cackle with glee for not getting wrapped up in a bidding war for him.
Is being related to Jarkko Ruutu enough to land you on the hated on list? Maybe not some people, but it is good enough for me. Mostly because the Hurricanes really don't have an unpopular or widely disliked player.
But maybe I am missing something here. I plead ignorance—Fill me in. This isn't about scouring stat sheets and seeing who leads the team in PIMs. This is about real dislike.
Who on the Hurricanes do you hate to see play against your favorite team?
This is a talented player that fans of other Franchises love to bash on.
Showing up in pictures with strippers, on bar tops, and generally carrying on the way most twenty-somethings have at some point will get you in a lot of "like" books. But for parents who are just dying to give their kid a wonderful role model, Kane leaves much to be desired.
A player this good giving oh so level headed hockey fans this kind of ammunition for when the going gets tough may not be wise. And when Kane slips up, it gets eaten up. Maybe he should just win another Cup ring so he can plug his ears with the pair (classic Patrick Roy for you there.)
There are few weights in pro sports greater than the title Number One Draft Pick.
It seems like there are more busts than booms across the board. Teams making that selection are looking for a game breaker. A cornerstone type player that they can build around.
Certainly the Blues had higher hope for Erik Johnson than this. Trading him to shake up the team and add some talent to the forward unit. While he isn't hated for his perceived shortcomings, he bugged the St. Louis fan base for not panning out and eventually lead management to deal him.
Johnson is sturdy, sure. He didn't Daigle bust by any means. But he never lived up to that oh so heavy weight that burdened him from the start of his career.
Talk about a fall from grace.
After Steve Mason showed an abundance of promise during his rookie campaign, he has fallen into and onto himself, seemingly incapable of making saves at the NHL level.
It may be a case of confidence, or maybe he read too much of his own press. Whatever the reason, Mason has not given Columbus a chance to win on many nights through the last two seasons, and is the one most directly responsible for the Jackets not being able to contend for a playoff spot.
While fans of other teams may not even know his name, Blue Jackets fans are fed up with their goaltender of the future and his incredibly inconsistent play.
Mike Ribeiro has earned the dislike of fans around the League for his notorious dives and wanna' be tough guy antics while there is a referee around.
And I'm not just referring to the one either.
Ribeiro is known for his embellishment, which is a shame because he's a pretty good player otherwise. His slash on Chris Osgood is pretty much burned into my mind as his defining moment, but that may be a bit biased. Do some youtubing on your own time to see why else he makes the list as a hated player.
Mixed in with his tremendous shootout goals are dives, slashes, fakes, and cowering behind officials.
I can't imagine the suffering goaltenders wish upon Tomas Holmstrom after a playoff series against him. While the keeper knows that he is playing the Red Wings, he may be under the impression that No. 96 is the only player on the team since that's the jersey he sees up close and personal most often.
I've tried to imagine what it's like to watch Homer work from the other side and I just can't get there. But I am sure it has earned him his fair share of negative energy over the years. While I considered slotting in Niklas Kronwall for his nasty open ice hits, Holmstrom has driven more teams up a wall, more often, and as such is more hated on.
This is what happens when you win the Stanley Cup as a goaltender, and then hit the free agent market a few short weeks later.
You cash in.
What's supposed to happen is the netminder lives up to the billing and brings a particular kind of swagger and legitimacy to a lineup. Needless to say that this hasn't been the case with Nikolai Khabibulin with the Edmonton Oilers.
Instead he's been a pretty expensive and remarkably average goaltender.
At least overpaid skaters can take up a spot on a lower line and be some kind of advantage to their team. But a guy this expensive and touted playing backup goalie? Yikes. Can I get a "it's time for a line change, coach?"
David Booth is a bit of a goat because of how good he could be, and how good he was supposed to be. Truth be told, he may still be effected by the Mike Richards hit as he didn't really come back the same player.
Booth wouldn't make the cut with just about any other team, but the Panthers don't have the name recognition (yet) for the players to draw harassment for their short comings. And they don't harbor any outright thugs either.
Same deal with Carolina: Am I missing something in Florida? Who do you hate to play against in the Panthers organization.
The argument could be make that if was a Mike Richards hit that started all of this concussion talk.
It seemed like his hit on David Booth was one of the biggest spark plugs for this head shot rule changes. The hit on the talented Panthers forward, and the guy missed almost an entire season because of the shot.
The Tim Connolly check was pretty nasty as well
With Richards the Kings land themselves one of the more notoriously edgy hitters, and a guy who instantly becomes their most disliked and hated on player.
Another member of the 'if he could only stay healthy club.', Martin Havlat was brought in to shore up scoring and help Minnesota becomes a more offensively minded team after spending years as a more defensive squad.
While the stigma still follows him from a few injury riddled seasons, the truth is Havlat has been pretty sturdy through the last two years in Minnesota. But when the offense isn't up to par and the defense surely could be better (Havlat has been a -19 across two years for the Wild) things get a little stressed.
Wild fans are on OK terms with this guy, but he has the reputation around the League for being a guy who gets hurt easily, and fans always hone in on the offensively gifted, injury prone star—as they should to a degree. When things aren't going well for the Wild, the sentence "Marty Havlat has to play a bit better" is generally part of the consensuses.
PK Subban is a lightning rod of a hockey player. From the time he made his debut on the Montreal Canadians that he had a bit of swagger and toughness to add to a pretty solid offensive game from the blueline.
But when you line up humongous open ice hits, and have always been a big personality during games a lot of people are going to come down on you for it. Subban is no different. Fellow list-maker Mike Richards tore into Subban during a radio interview with Norman Marshall of Metro Networks, saying the following:
"He's a guy that's come in the league and hasn't earned respect," Richards told the radio station. "It's just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and so much as think that he's better than a lot of people. You have to earn respect in this league. It takes a lot. You can't just come in here as a rookie and play like that."
And that's the feeling some fans and players around the League share, making Subban hated on.
Jordin Tootoo is the kind of player that fans would love to see on their own squads, but hate playing against him. Seeing him several times a year against Detroit, I can attest to why.
Tootoo is a guy who makes his living on the physical edge, and does plenty of talking, and then fighting sometimes to back himself up. While he may not make the list on some other squads, he does here as a representative of the mostly likeable Nashville Predators.
After all when was the last time you openly dished on your hatred of Martin Erat?
Ilya Kovalchuk might as well have a bulls eye tattooed on his back because it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. After more or less admitting that he wanted to be a $100 million dollar man, and wouldn't sign for less, Kovie was the start of one of the most dramatic free agent sagas of all time.
I don't want to recount it—I'm still sick of hearing about it and the deal is a year old. But there really are few players on earth who can live up to such a sizable contract and become "one of the guys" in the locker room after such a scene was made.
Kovalchuk finally started to get his act together after the All Star break last season, but it's hard to see him fully living up to (or living down, depending on how you look at it) his massive contract. If the Devils fail, this is the guy that blame will come to almost every time.
Because a $100 million dollar man rarely can appear to do enough on the ice.
Rick Dipietro is either a total sissy that honestly can't do anything without getting injured, or he is actually the smartest guy in the room, having figured out a way to fake injury and get paid large sums of money to do nothing but rehab and get re-injured.
Or maybe it's a little bit of both.
But Dipietro married himself to the Islanders as the goaltender of the future, and then promptly failed to live up to any kind of expectations whatsoever. He's been a drain on the cap and the team for pretty much his entire career, and barring some major turn around well be a (clearly unobserved) example of how badly a long contract can haunt a team.
Marian Gaborik is the poster-boy for the so talented, but oft injured club. The temptation is too great to look at a team that needs more offensive output, find their best player, and do some finger pointing. And while it may not always be warranted, Gaborik's track record with staying healthy isn't a good sign for Rangers fans.
When the guy is healthy, he's a very talented player that can make a lot of things happen on the ice. But after his first season in New York was solid, the wheels fell off last season causing many to wonder if the Gaborik signing had been a mistake.
Things are rough for Jason Spezza in Ottawa despite being a point per game player throughout his career. Since the 2007-2008, the center has been in a mild decline, scoring an identical 67 points through the last two seasons.
Not too shabby, but fans expect more from Spezz—he didn't do himself any favors by lighting things up on the famed CASH line, and then failing to produce those same kind of numbers once Dany Heatley was no longer around to fill the net with Spezza's passes.
Despite the good numbers, few players have had their names circulated in the rumor mill as a trade candidate, and his small presence as a leader dosn't endear itself to viewers either. Any kind of regular season success and post season wins starts and ends with the offensive leader in Spezza.
One of the most openly despised players by fans around the League, it is no secret that Chris Pronger will do whatever it takes to win. He's accused of being a dirty player at times, with plenty of video evidence to support the claim.
Over the course of a seven game playoff series he begins to wear mentally on both fans and players alike with his physical style, and apparent ability to only take every third shift off of the ice. Pronger's attitude seems to be contagious, as the teams he plays on tend to skate with a bit of his edge.
This pick may be a bit more personal than the others, but after running into Shane Doan for two consecutive playoff seasons I can honestly say that he really irritates me as a hockey player. He doesn't shy away from the physicality of the game, and when things aren't going well for him in the offensive zone he starts to use his body more and more feverishly.
Doan is another player that I'd take on my team in a heartbeat, but absolutely hate playing against. His grit on top of his talent make it all too easy to hate on him as a playoff series progresses.
If there was an Ulf Samuelsson Award for the most hated on player in hockey, odds are Sidney Crosby would be an odds on favorite to win that trophy (too) at the end of every season.
Because man does this guy take a lot of heat.
After a short time in the League Sid the Kid began to garner the reputation as a whiner and a diver—two of the worst things a hockey player can have said about them. And while he has grown up tremendously over the last few years, Crosby has been unable to shed that reputation.
I could get into the psychology of hating a guy like Crosby and ramble for hours. Instead, I'll ask you: Why do you dislike Sid, or why do you think that so many people do?
There are too many players on the team that opposing fans love to question to name just one. At this point, the pressure to take a serious run at the Cup isn't focused on just Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau anymore.
It's on the entire franchise, and the stench of postseason failure carries all the way to the front office and trainers. The fact is a simple one: This is a supremely talented team that just hasn't found a way to get it done in the playoffs. The Sharks are getting closer, and Thornton seems to have found his playoff form while Marleau has never been as bad as the perception.
Still, few teams in the League have had so much talent without at least a Conference Champs banner to show for it.
The St. Louis Blues seem to have found a Patrick Kane clone—one with a bit less talent but a nose for getting into trouble. Let me state that I like the kid as a player, and really hated to see him end up in the doghouse for showing up late to meetings and generally not having his stuff together.
But on a team more or less void of an openly hated on player, the fanbase of the Blues and their irritation with one of the players who was supposed to take his team into the promised land Oshie on the list. He's another player whose attitude has caused numerous trade rumors, creating a bit of an off-ice distraction for the club and himself.
Steve Downie is a prime example of a "right place, right time" kind of story. Because who would have thought he would find chemistry with two of the best hockey players in the world while being known mostly as an agitator.
But that is exactly where Downie finds himself, and he is an important part of the Bolts vaunted attack. He sees top line minutes as a grinder who just so happens to have an equal helping of finish as well. There is nothing worse than seeing a guy run your team's star off the puck, only able to take it the other way and actually do something with it.
Phil Kessel isn't necessarily disliked because of anything that he has done, but what he cost the Toronto Maple Leafs via trade makes him a constant source of questioning and general dislike. With an attitude problem and discord developing in Boston, the Bruins moved him to Toronto for a king's ransom.
Kessel hasn't exactly turned out to be royalty though.
While he plays an important role on the offensive side of the puck for the Maple Leafs, fans were probably expecting him to have blossomed a bit more and shown more of his prowess in the offensive zone, but he has left a little to be desired.
Never mind the fact that he doesn't really have a center that can feed him the puck, while in Boston he had some of the better play makers around. Kessel's reputation as a bit of a lazy player, along with the huge trade he was involved in, coupled with some to be desired on the stat line and Kessel is one of the more hated on players around.
With the Finals only having been over for a few weeks, the echos of Boston fans hating on the Canucks as a whole is still ringing in my ears.
But when Google's fourth suggestion for Roberto Luongo is "Roberto Luongo Sucks", you know where the issue lies. While the Canucks have some more obnoxious players outside of these three, the lack of a Cup Parade in Vancouver squarely fell on the shoulders of these three guys.
And while that may or may not be fair, one thing is clear: Luongo and the Sedins won't be able to get any peace until they finally bring the Cup to Vancouver. They've shown that they can get to the show, but then tend to go a bit invisible, leading many around the League to label them as "chokers."
Considered by some to be a showboat, and an over-the-top goal celebrator, Alexander Ovechkin pays the price for his antics by being one of the most hated on players in the NHL. Having the reputation as a one-way specialist, and a guy who can't get the job done in the playoffs only fuels the fire that AO seems intent to light himself.
His goal total dipped considerably, leading some onlookers to wonder if he is losing his touch and was, in fact, overrated. The fact is that he started paying more attention to other aspects of his game besides goal scoring, and his individual numbers suffered for it.
But life won't ever be easy for a flashy, Russian goal scoring machine in the NHL. And AO seems to enjoy that.
The most hated on player on the Jets roster is...
Enjoy the honeymoon period Winnipeg. These players have done no wrong as Jets, or in the eyes of fans in Winnipeg so it's hard to choose a player at this point.
Then feel free to become a fan, comment on anything you'd like (I'm always down for hockey conversation!), and to stay up-to-date on my other articles by following me on twitter.
I even made it easy for you. Who doesn't love buttons?
Also, feel free to email me with any questions, or even if you're just itching to add another name to your rolodex. contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry. I'm still working on a button for that.