Sean Avery and the (other) 14 Most Hated Players in the NHL Today
There was a time when certain players could bank on being a strongarm as their bread-and-butter in the NHL. The role of enforcer was respected, even necessary to gain a legitimate chance of standing up and getting something started when the rest of the team wasn't firing on all cylinders.
Gone are the days when players like Tie Domi, Rob Ray, Dale Hunter and Bob Probert were an asset to their team's survival. Recent years have seen new rules that have limited the role of "enforcer."
However, there are still those who play dirty.
15. Daniel Carcillo, Chicago Blackhawks
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A left winger by trade, Carcillo regularly drops the gloves for his team. On three occasions, Carcillo has broken 200 penalty minutes in one NHL season. He led the league twice, including 324 minutes with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007-08.
He infamously declared on the day before the 2010 Bridgestone Classic that he would be part of the first "Winter Classic" fight. Along with the Boston Bruins Shawn Thornton, Carcillo made good on his pledge.
With 80 points over 296 career matches, Carcillo doesn't add much more to his team than a threat in the open ice.
14. Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
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Burrows bit the Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron on the finger in game one of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup finals.
He also regularly dives and has averaged about 90 seconds in the penalty box throughout his NHL career. Although he is a distinct agitator, Burrows also shows some scoring chops, thrice scoring over 20 goals in a season and racking up a career high 35 in 2009-10.
13. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
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Pronger is a member of the prestigious "triple gold" club, and has played in three Stanley Cup Championships for three different teams. He is also a five-time former All-Star and a probable first ballot Hall-of-Famer, if he ever retires.
That being said, he's also a huge jerk.
He has been accused of stealing game pucks and impregnating erstwhile reporters. He also is guilty of stomping on Ryan Kesler's leg, waving his glove in the faces of opposing goaltenders and of racking up 1,588 career penalty minutes. He is "Public Enemy Number One" in Edmonton.
12. Steve Ott, Dallas Stars
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Ott is a notorious pest. He famously learns and memorizes insulting phrases in several languages just to get inside his opponents' heads.
He has been suspended for multiple infractions, including a low check after the whistle on Carlo Colaiacovo, an eye gouge of Travis Moen, and for checking Jordan Leopold in the head.
Ott has racked up over two penalty minutes per game over the course of his nine-season NHL career.
Although fans of teams throughout the NHL hate him, the Dallas fanbase is quite appreciative of Ott's antics.
11. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Chara is a nightmare on skates.
He makes this list for two reasons. The first and most obvious thing is the guy is a hulk out there. At 6'9", he is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL. He looks like a high school student playing against fifth graders when he is on the ice.
The second and more well deserved reason is his poorly timed hit on Habs forward Max Pacioretty. Chara's check propelled the smaller player into the stanchion at the end of the bench, resulting in Pacioretty being carted off the ice on a stretcher.
A 40-point scorer in each of the last seven NHL seasons, Chara has legitimate scoring ability. He was an important cog in the Boston Bruins title run last season.
Unfortunately, casual NHL fans will always remember this incident as his career-defining moment.
10. Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning
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Downie merits inclusion on this list based partially on his 564 career penalty minutes in only 213 games.
In 2008, on the same day that Downie scored his first career NHL goal, he sucker punched Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake while the officials were holding Blake's arms down.
Later, when he was with the AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals, he slashed a linesman across the shins in protest of an empty net goal. The act merited a 20-game suspension, the second of such length in Downie's career.
9. Maxim Lapierre, Vancouver Canucks
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Lapierre, primarily a checking forward, joined the Canucks in time for their near miss in the chase for the Stanley Cup last season.
He chalks up about one penalty every two games, which isn't very remarkable in and of itself. With 90 points in 351 career NHL games, Lapierre doesn't represent much of an offensive threat.
His inclusion on this list reflects his ability to goad opposing players into penalties by provoking and/or distracting them.
8. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
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Ovechkin has made a habit of over-the-top goal celebrations. This wouldn't really be a big deal, but the guy scores a lot of goals. Most famously, after Ovechkin scored his 50th goal in 2008-09, he put his stick on the ice and pretended to warm his hands over it, as it was too hot to hold.
Ovechkin has led the NHL in shots taken in every season in which he has participated, and has 308 goals to show for it. He plays with an unapologetic swagger and attitude.
Ovechkin would not make this list if he wasn't one of the very best players in the league.
7. Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
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Bertuzzi's inclusion on the list can be traced back to one infamous incident.
On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi punched Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore from behind in retaliation for an earlier hit Moore had laid on Markus Naslund. The fallout from the incident was an indefinite suspension for Bertuzzi. Moore had several medical problems stemming from the action, including three fractured vertebrae and amnesia. The incident made it necessary for Moore to retire.
Bertuzzi was a generally well-regarded veteran until the incident. Since that time, Bertuzzi is booed everywhere he goes.
6. P. K. Subban, Montreal Canadian
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PK Subban is hated for several reasons, especially in Boston. As a highly touted Montreal Canadian, Subban first appeared with the club near the end of the 2009-10 season.
He draws ire from opposing fans first because he is a Hab. As a rookie in 2010-11, he demanded respect instead of earning it. He dives and he is an instigator, but then hides behind the referee when the other guy wants to fight.
5. Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild
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Heatley, a two-time 50 goal scorer and a four-time All-Star, started his career with the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001-02 season. He wrecked his car September 2003, severely injuring himself and teammate Dan Snyder. Snyder died of sepsis six days later. This incident was largely forgiven by Thrasher faithful and Snyder's family.
Heatley requested a largely unpopular trade to get away from reminders of the accident. Atlanta fans felt that Heatley was supported throughout his ordeal and owed the team a little loyalty. Nonetheless, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators prior to the 2005-06 season.
Four years later, and one season into a six-year contract, Heatley demanded a trade out of Ottawa, citing reduced ice time and a personality conflict with the coach, Cory Clouston. The team brokered a deal with the Edmonton Oilers, but Heatley refused to waive his no-trade clause. The standoff has left Heatley especially reviled in Ottawa and Edmonton.
4. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
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Crosby may or may not be overrated, but he is certainly overhyped.
Throughout his Penguins career, he has been accused of diving several times. Diving is hard to prove, however. What Crosby did to get on everybody's "hate radar" is whine.
He whined a lot more in his first two seasons, but still bends the referees ear from time to time.
Crosby's other cardinal sin is performance. Most fans outside of Pittsburgh hate Crosby because he is a great player. With 572 points in 412 career games, the Penguins can't wait for him to get back on the ice.
3. Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators
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A hard-nosed player and a career Ottawa Senator, Neil gets under everybody's skin.
If you are not an Ottawa fan, you probably hate Chris Neil.
He'll drop the gloves and fight anyone. He's been accused of fighting smaller opponents, but has shown little hesitation when taking on opposing enforcers.
Neil has averaged three minutes in the box per game throughout his NHL career.
2. Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins
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Cooke is held in low regard amongst opposing fans and players for his propensity to deliver head shots and blind side hits.
He has received several multiple game suspensions throughout his career, including a career high 17-game suspension in 2010-11 for an elbow to Ryan McDonagh's head.
Cooke's actions have been so egregious that the NHL had to rewrite part of it's rule book to deter such actions from going unpunished. Cooke's actions pale in comparison to the top player on the list.
1. Sean Avery, New York Rangers
That's gonna leave a mark...
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Avery is a world class jerk.
He's been accused of having no respect for the game. He allegedly called Georges Laraque, a Black-Canadian, a monkey. He's also made racist comments against French-Canadian hockey players.
He picks fights then hides behind the ref, he dives whenever he can get away with it. He congratulated Dion Phaneuf for picking up his "sloppy seconds" when Phaneuf was dating Avery's ex-girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert.
The NHL had to reinterpret "unsportsmanlike conduct" after Avery distracted Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur by waving his glove in Brodeurs face, obstructing his view of the play. Although screening the goaltender is common practice, Avery went about it in a new and confrontational way.
Avery has since been enrolled in an anger management class, but is still widely held as the most hated player in the NHL.