NHL Power Rankings: The 50 Most Despised Players in League History

Matthew FairburnCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: The 50 Most Despised Players in League History

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    NHL fans are a passionate bunch, and it doesn't take much for a player to get on the bad side of that passion.

    Divers, whiners and cheap-shot artists alike all end up being hated by fans league-wide for their antics on and off the ice. A fan of any sport wants to root for guys who have respect for the game they love and the players that are on the ice with them.

    Of course, guys like Claude Lemieux and Bobby Clarke wouldn't have been doing their jobs if the league didn't despise them, while guys like Mike Ribeiro and the Sedins have trouble shedding the "diver" and "whiner" tags.

    Whatever it is they did, the 50 guys on this list have developed into some of the most demonized figures in the entire hockey world. Quite an accomplishment, if you ask me.

    Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @MatthewFairburn to discuss hockey.

Jeremy Roenick

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    Jeremy Roenick is one of the most outspoken players in NHL history, so naturally, plenty of fans have a distaste for the American-born sniper.

    Personally, I enjoyed Roenick's passion for the game on and off the ice, but there is no doubt that it rubbed a strong contingent of NHL fans the wrong way.

    His time spent on television has only furthered some of the hatred for JR.

Bobby Holik

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    Bobby Holik was a mean dude on the ice during his playing days. He played a physical brand of hockey that sometimes bordered on the dirty side.

    Meanwhile, despite countless cheap shots and dirty plays, Holik rarely dropped the gloves to fight someone. Nothing is more aggravating than a player willing to take cheap shots but not willing to face the repercussions.

    Plus, look at that face. How could any opposing player not want to drop the mitts with that guy?

Sedin Twins

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    Always generally disliked around the NHL, the animosity towards the Sedin twins reached new levels this past postseason, particularly in the Stanley Cup Finals, when the Swedish brothers displayed cowardly diving and whining tactics throughout the series.

    It's not just fans either. The players dislike these guys too. Ryan Whitney claims that 90 percent of the league was rooting against these "creepy twins" in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Steve Webb

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    Steve Webb could certainly lay the lumber, but if he played in the league today the Islanders' enforcer would be suspended for many of the hits he dished out in his playing career.

    In the video above, Webb delivers a handful of blind side hits and seems to be charging on every other check he lands. It's easy to understand why opposing players and fans alike had a deep distaste for this guy.

Martin Brodeur

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    Players who have had as much success as Martin Brodeur has tend to becoming polarizing figures amongst the league's collective fan base.

    At this point in Brodeur's career, a fan either loves him or hates him, with very few people falling in between.

    Of course, Brodeur's messy marital situation doesn't help his image in the eye of the typical NHL fan.

Mike Milbury

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    It's tough to win over fans when you jump the glass to beat a fan with his own shoe like Mike Milbury did during his playing days. He was a dirty player, a terrible coach and general manager and a very biased analyst.

    There are plenty of people who simply can't stand this guy. Is he entertaining? You bet. Well liked? Not so much.

Dave "Tiger" Williams

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    One of the great agitators in the history of hockey, Dave "TIger" Williams had the ability to start a fight with just about anybody in the league.

    Williams is the NHL's all time leader in penalty minutes and was even charged with assault for an incident in which he struck Dennis Owchar with his stick.

    Needless to say, Williams got under the skin of quite a few people.

Alexei Yashin

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    Alexei Yashin is the stereotypical Russian hockey player. He's all offense and no defense and cares more about the money than he does anything else.

    Ask any Ottawa Senators' fan about his holdout in 1999, and you'll get a long winded explanation of why this guy is one of the most despised players in NHL history.

Alex Kovalev

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    Similar to Alexei Yashin, Alex Kovalev has an attitude issue that makes it tough for him to be a fan favorite in any NHL city that he has stopped in.

    His inconsistent play and constant whining when things don't go his way make Alex Kovalev a magnent for criticism across the league.

Gary Suter

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    Gary Suter is the culprit of some of the dirtiest cheap shots in the history of the league.

    The above cheap shot on Paul Kariya is the reason for a lot of the hatred towards this guy and rightfully so. Of all the people in the league to cross check in the face, what could Paul Kariya have possibly done to Gary Suter in order to deserve that?

    Suter was asking to be hated.

Daniel Alfredsson

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    The rivalry between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs is heated enough without Daniel Alfredsson taking cheap shots like the one in the video above.

    Alfredsson mocked Mats Sundin, shot a puck at Niedermayer in the 2008 playoffs and has taken countless cheap shots at guys, only to crawl into a hole whenever challenged to a fight.

    There's plenty to dislike about Daniel Alfredsson.

Patrick Kaleta

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    He may still be young, but Patrick Kaleta is becoming one of the league's most hated players in every city except for his hometown of Buffalo.

    Scroll through the Youtube clips of Kaleta. The common theme is Kaleta delivering an outrageous cheap shot followed by the entire opposing team converging on him at once.

    Players hate this guy as much as the fans do.

Derian Hatcher

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    Derian Hatcher was a feared defenseman who made a living off of his physical play and intimidation, but sometimes he took things too far.

    His play in front of the net was always bordering on illegal, and Hatcher was never afraid to cross the line and deliver a dirty hit.

    Just check out what he did to Jeremy Roenick in the video above. Is there really a reason for a monster like Hatcher to leave his feet to hit a guy?

Sidney Crosby

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    In his young, yet prolific career, Sidney Crosby has turned plenty of fans against him, somehow.

    Many consider Crosby to be a whiner and a diver, though he has matured a ton in recent years. Personally, I consider Crosby to be the best player in the NHL and a terrific poster boy for the league. His diving is overplayed and often times nonexistent.

    Crosby is probably so hated because he has been in the spotlight since the moment he entered the league.

Rick Tocchet

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    Rick Tocchet was a firecracker for years in the National Hockey League. He wasn't afraid to lay someone out, be carless with his stick, shoot his mouth off or even drop the mitts with just about anybody in the league.

    The most annoying part about Tocchet was that he never thought he was in the wrong. He just went about his business as a cheap shot artist night in and night out. Oh, he was a hell of a player too.

Billy Smith

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    Even as a goaltender, Billy Smith managed to develop quite the reputation for his dirty work in front of his own goal. Sure, he kept opposing forwards on their toes in front of his net but not without being widely disliked around the league.

    Who knew a goalie could make this list for dirty play?

Patrick Roy

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    Arguably the most polarizing figure in the history of professional hockey, Patrick Roy is adored by as many fans as he's hated by.

    Perhaps it's his ridiculous amount of success, or the somewhat arrogant manner in which he handled that success, but Roy finds himself on numerous hate lists amongst NHL fans.

    When a player spends roughly his entire career in the spotlight of the league, it's easy for him to get on the bad side of plenty of people.

Scott Stevens

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    Another play I personally have no issue with, but seems to be well hated amongst fans is Scott Stevens.

    Stevens was a physical force on the blueline, which caused him to deliver a few questionable hits that earned him a bit of a spotty reputation around the league.

    Imagine if Stevens played today? People would consider him the anti-christ with all of the bone-jarring hits he used to shell out.

Mike Richards

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    It started off with a few overly physical plays that injured some opponents. Richards was a young and tenacious center, so they were excusable.

    Then, however, Richards started shooting his mouth off. He was short with the media, chirped everyone on the ice and even had a falling out with Peter Laviolette, which of course, led to Richards being traded from Philly this offseason.

    Will Richards ever grow out of his seemingly abrasive personality enough to become a fan favorite? 

The Ruutus

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    Tuomo and Jarkko Ruutu have both made a living as excellent two way forwards in the National Hockey League. However, in the defensive zone the Ruutu's tend to get a bit chippy.

    The cheap shots Tuomo and Jarkko have handed out over the years include a vicious hit form behind and a biting incident. Not much to like right there.

Roberto Luongo

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    For years, Roberto Luongo has been considered one of, if not the best goaltender in the National Hockey League. Unfortunately, that label has given him unrealistic expectations amongst the Vancouver fan base, which have, of course, led to a pissed off group of Canuck fans.

    Not to mention, Big Lou turned the rest of the league against him with the comments he made in the Stanley Cup Finals in regards to Tim Thomas.

    It's time for Luongo to shut his mouth, and his five hole, in order to get off this list.

Brett Hull

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    Brett Hull was a once in a generation type of talent. Unfortunately, the passion was never truly there. Sure, he lit the lamp a ton and had a remarkable career, but Hull never truly displayed the type of passion for the game as some of the other greats. Instead he just whined.

    In fact, Hull didn't grow up with dreams of being in the NHL and even quit the game at 18, only to realize he had nothing else and hockey was his best chance of success.

    "I never grew up saying, `I've got to be in the NHL, I've got to be in the NHL,' just because my father was," says Brett. "I never had that desire. I thought it would be neat if I could, but I didn't care less if I played or if I didn't."

Dany Heatley

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    Speaking of guys with no passion, Dany Heatley has all of the talent in the world but always seems to be in it for the paycheck and only the paycheck. 

    His fall from the good grace of the fans started with his driving accident, which resulted in his teammate, Dany Snyder. Heatley made it back from that but never quite won the fans over.

    Then there was the contract dispute with Ottawa. which ended with Heatley demanding a trade shortly after receiving a $4 million signing bonus from the Senators.

    If that wasn't enough, Heatley shrinks in the playoffs like nobody else, and it really doesn't seem to bother him. 

Ken Linseman

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    Back in the days of the Big Bad Bruins, one player took the physicality to a different level. Notorious as being a dirty player, Ken Linseman is the godfather of the knee to knee hit and was constantly going low on people because of his size.

    Everyone in the league absolutely hated playing against this guy.

Bryan Marchment

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    Bryan Marchment always knew how to take things too far.

    Just refer to the video. Marchment makes a solid defensive play, removing Nieuwendyk from the puck and taking him out of the play.

    Unfortunately, he didn't stop there, slamming Big Joe into the boards relentlessly, somewhat from behind as well.

    Of course, the announcer celebrated this as a nice hit, but if Marchment was playing under the rules and regulations of the post-lockout NHL, a suspension would have been dished out. Just another example of how much the league has changed. 

    Though, Marchment was suspended 13 times in the span of his 12 seasons in the NHL. Of course, when you deliberately go for players' knees constantly, the suspensions are going to come in bunches.

Zdeno Chara

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    Unless he's on your team, there really isn't a whole lot to like about Zdeno Chara. He hacks and slashes in front of the net, using his 6'9'' fram to keep players away from the goaltender but is seemingly never willing to drop the mitts when he goes to far.

    The hit on Max Pacioretty aside, Chara is a dirty player and doesn't drop the gloves nearly enough to earn his tough guy reputation.

    Check out the 5:30 mark on the video above. Hartnell gets under his skin and is willing to drop the gloves with Chara, but Chara cannot be bothered by that.

    He starts slugging Hartnell with his gloves on and gets treated like the ultimate tough guy.

Matthew Barnaby

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    Matthew Barnaby is one player who would smile if he saw himself on this list. Barnaby made a name for himself as an agitator in the NHL, and did a damn good job of getting under just about everybody's skin. 

    Plus, Barnaby was willing to drop the mitts.

    Unfortunately, he was a bit of a punk, faking injuries and constantly chirping, which made him despised amongst NHL fans. Though, like I said, he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Mike Ribeiro

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    Once a diver, always a diver.

    The incident in the video may have been more than seven years ago, but it doesn't change the fact that Ribeiro is one of the most gutless and disrespectful players I've ever watched. The sad part is that this isn't the only time Ribeiro has done this.

    The even sadder part is that Ribeiro is one hell of a player but will always be known for his gutless antics.

Rob Ray

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    Rob Ray was never afraid to fight, but it had to be his way. Ray would remove his helmet, jersey and pads so that his opponent would have no chance to grab at the jersey, giving himself a huge advantage in fights.

    The NHL eventually made a rule against Ray's gutless strategy.

Darcy Tucker

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    As I mentioned in the intro slide, players who disrespect the game of hockey have no chance of winning over the fans of the league.

    Darcy Tucker flopped like a fish out of water at the slightest touch and didn't quit the act until a penalty was called. Pure disrespect for the game we all love.

Mark Messier

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    Another polarizing figure in hockey history is Mark Messier. He was a tremendous talent and had outstanding production. Messier was also a dirty player, though.

    The pinnacle of his hatred came when in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks in 1996, when Messier chopped down Trevor Linden and then hit him as he was crawling back to the bench.

    It may surprise a few people, but Mark Messier wasn't universally loved.

Sean Avery

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    Depending on your personality and moral beliefs, you either love Sean Avery or you hate him.

    He is shamelessly cheap and knows no limits to trash talking. This all of course, makes him a mildly entertaining player.

Eric Lindros

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    Eric Lindros was Sidney Crosby before there was Sidney Crosby. He was supposed to be the next great thing to happen to the NHL.

    Well, he wasn't, largely due to injuries that derailed his career. Thus, many fans resented him for that.

    Even more, however, resented the fact that Lindros was constantly whining, or that he was a bit of a dirty player.

    Some hated him for his lack of success, others for his attitude. He just couldn't win.

Dan Carcillo

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    Honestly, what's there to like about Dan Carcillo? He plays dirty, he is always running his mouth and he just always has that nasty look on his face.

    Is there a player in the league that wouldn't want to go a round with Dan Carcillo?

Theo Fleury

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    This is all it takes for a guy to be universally hated across the league. 

    Check out the video. Fleury intentionally kicks Alexei Zhamnov, completely knocking him off his feet. There's no defense of that.

    What's more, off the ice Fleury was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and was constantly talking trash on the rest of the league and the NHL itself. Theo Fleury just had a terrible personality.

Ulf Samuelsson

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    It's tough to make this list and not include the great Ulf Samuelsson.

    Samuellson was a terror for the opposition. He flew around the ice knocking heads with anyone who got in his path. The Swede would take things too far occasionally, though, injuring quite a few players during his career.

    I could go on, but Don Cherry has a few things to say in the video above.

Dale Hunter

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    Dal Hunter holds a unique place in the record books. He is the only player to have compiled 1,000 points to go along with over 3,000 penalty minutes.

    In addition, Hunter received a 21-game suspension, one of the 10 longest in NHL history, for destroying Pierre Turgeon after he had scored a goal. Hunter was mad because the goal was entirely his fault. 

Esa Tikkanen

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    Some guys just don't shut up. When their team is dominant, the trash talk becomes even more persistent.

    Esa Tikkanen, the man in charge of protecting Wayne Gretzky during his days in Edmonton, was constantly chirping the opposition night in and night out.

    Nothing is more annoying than an untalented hack talking trash just because of Gretzky and the crew.

Darius Kasparaitis

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    I'll never truly understand where the hatred for Darius Kasparaitis stems from. Yes, he was a physical player, and yes, he talked his fair amount of trash on the ice.

    That being said, I would take six of Darius Kasparaitis on my team any day. He played balls to the wall for sixty minutes every night.

    Did that get under people's skin? You bet it did. Did that stop Darius? No chance.

    He was an admirable hockey player but tends to catch tons of hate.

Bobby Clarke

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    Beloved on Broad Street, Bobby Clarke was hated just about everywhere else. Clarke was a talented captain for the Broad Street Bullies but also made a living injuring people and getting under the opposition's skin

    Whether in the NHL or International play, Clarke wasn't afraid to cross the line and risk injuring someone if it would benefit his team. Just ask Russia.

Chris Simon

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    During his playing days, Chris Sion truly was the bad boy of hockey. He had no control over his emotions and often let that get the better of him.

    In addition the vicious slash depicted above, Simon was guilty of kicking Jarkko Ruutu and saying some horrendous things.

    This was one personality the NHL had a tough time keeping in check.

Chris Neil

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    Chris Neil embodies all of the characteristics that the opposition hates.

    Neil talks as big of a game as anybody and throws his weight around constantly, whether the whistle has blown and the puck is still there or not.

    Of course, Neil is a fan favorite in Ottawa, but that doesn't mean he isn't widely hated just about everywhere else.

Chris Pronger

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    Chris Pronger hardly ever says a word off the ice and carries himself as a gentleman.

    However, lucky for Flyers' fans, Blues' fans, and Ducks' fans, Pronger tends to be pretty nasty on the ice. His play in front of the net is enough to frustrate any opposing player or fan, and his constant on-ice chirping makes him a lightning rod for hatred.

Dave Schultz

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    It's no surprise that not many people like the Broad Street Bullies on the 1970s. They wanted it that way.

    One of the best agitators rostered by the Flyers in those days was Dave Schultz, who holds the record for most penalty minutes in a single season with 472.

    Schultz could piss off his opponents like few ever could, and he had some heavy hands when it came time to drop the mitts. Few players played the game as angrily as Dave Schultz.

Tie Domi

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    Tie Domi was such a punk, but he made the Flyers vs Maple Leafs rivalry so much fun to watch.

    Up until the day he called it quite, Tie Domi was dropping the gloves and doing everything he could to piss people off. That was his game.

    Give him credit, though. Domi would go after the biggest and baddest enforcers in the league, despite his small stature. The guy had some balls.

Donald Brashear

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    In no way could anyone ever endorse what Marty McSorely did to Donald Brashear when he two-handed him across the dome.

    However, if there was ever anyone who deserved such a cowardly act (which of course, nobody ever could), it was probably Donald Brashear.

    Brashear was in the league strictly to fight people and to hurt people. He did a pretty damn good job of it, too.

Marty McSorely

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    Donald Brashear made a living by getting under the other team's skin. Unfortunatley, he pushed one player, Marty McSorely, to the breaking point.

    This was such a coward move that I can't really put it into words. Anyone who has seen the video understands just how outrageous this play was.

    This will live in infamy as one of the worst cheap shots in hockey history.

Matt Cooke

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    Matt Cooke is hockey's newest villain. He started Marc Savard's downward spiral, and he shows little remorse for the cheap shots he dishes out on a nightly basis.

    This guy is old school, and we usually don't see players like him these days. All he wants to do is injure people, and he will go to great measure to see that it happens.

    Blindside hits, knee to knee checks, hits to the head, you name it, Cooke has delivered it and injured someone in the process.

Todd Bertuzzi

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    I truly belive Todd Bertuzzi has significant remorse for what he did to Steve Moore, and Bertuzzi was such a talented player without any history of cheap shots, but unfortunately, the above hit is how he will always be remembered.

    It was a disgusting display of anger and revenge that has no place on the hockey rink, and it has made Todd Bertuzzi one of the most hated players in the history of the NHL.

Claude Lemieux

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    I cannot think of a player more universally despised than Claude Lemieux. He was a part of arguably the greatest rivalry in hockey history between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings during the '90s and early 2000s, and was a big part of making it what it was.

    The above hit was vicious. The way Lemieux handled it was barbaric. He acted like he did nothing wrong and threw it in Detroit's face ever chance he got.

    In addition, Lemieux supposedly did some bad things to the Stanley Cup, which is enough to piss off any hockey fan.

    He was disrespectful, he was dirty and he was the most hated player in NHL history. Claude Lemieux, everybody!