Philadelphia Flyers: 10 Rival Players the Fans Hate (And Why)
For opponents, Philadelphia can be one of the toughest places to play hockey.
The fans are infamous for their harassment of rivals, from chanting the word "Sucks!" after each opposing starter is announced to finding themselves in the penalty box with Tie Domi in an attempt to express a little displeasure for Domi's actions.
Of course, sometimes the most hated hockey players in the league find themselves wearing the Orange and Black, at which point the fanbase usually falls in love with them.
Here are 10 players that Flyers fans will hate no matter what, long after their respective careers have ended.
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Buffalo’s favorite pest knows how to get to his opponents, and while hockey is a sport rife with trash talk, Kaleta may be making a reputation for himself as the guy who takes it too far.
During last year’s first-round matchup between the Sabres and Flyers, Kaleta apparently crossed the line with Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere, taking digs at both forwards’ failed marriages, including the rumor that former Flyer Jeff Carter had some role in Hartnell’s divorce.
While the harsh words lit a fire under Briere and, in a way, ultimately cost Buffalo the series, the fact that Kaleta would choose to attack an opponent’s personal life goes beyond gamesmanship and becomes vicious.
Certainly Kaleta is not the only player in the league to do it, and in all likelihood, plenty of current and former Flyers have taken similar shots.
But regardless of who is doing it, those sorts of shots are great ways to lose respect league-wide.
While Dustin Byfuglien has never played for a true Flyers rival, his limited time in Philly has nonetheless managed to make him one of the most despised figures in the NHL, if you were to ask a Flyers fan.
The tension began in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when the Flyers and Byfuglien’s Chicago Blackhawks battled for hockey’s holy hardware. Byfuglien entered the series on a hot streak, attracting the kind of defensive attention normally reserved for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Byfuglien’s size could be matched only by Chris Pronger, attracting the attention of the Flyers’ future captain and opening the ice for quicker forwards. The Blackhawks eventually won the Stanley Cup in six games.
Now a member of the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise, Byfuglien has been moved back to the blue line and has been less the focus of Conn Smythe chatter and more the focus of tabloid fodder. Nonetheless, Big Buff manages to remain a thorn in the Flyers’ side, as the mediocre organization has had no trouble beating Philadelphia the last two seasons.
He’s big, he’s tough and he loves to be the bad guy. Normally that would be the sort of player Flyers fans love.
But beating us for the Stanley Cup? That’s unforgivable.
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Big Z has been in the spotlight more and more recently, culminating with the Stanley Cup victory last June. Chara’s attention is not undeserved, but for the rowdiest of Flyers fans, seeing a big, mean, hard-hitting natural leader in the spotlight is unnerving if it isn’t Chris Pronger.
Jealousy of Chara’s attention is the only reason to dislike the Boston monster, though. Like Pronger, Chara has started to find himself becoming one of the more dangerous players on the ice, and his play is increasingly bordering on dirty.
Chara’s vicious, unorthodox hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty was the beginning of the negativity, and while the incident wasn’t truly dirty, Chara has since been under a microscope.
In this year’s season opener, Chara hit Philly superstar Claude Giroux from behind near the boards, prompting a scrum behind the net. Giroux was uninjured, but much like Pronger, Chara’s unchecked use of his massive size is starting to make him some enemies throughout the league.
Only a few games into his NHL career, P.K. Subban found himself on Mike Richards’ bad side.
Commenting on Subban’s aggressive, in-your-face style of hockey, Richards declared that the Montreal defenseman hadn’t yet earned his stripes in the league.
While Philadelphia secretly loves that sort of “give ‘em hell” attitude from most players, Subban took the attitude to an extreme by taking no time to rub the whole league the wrong way. Instead of looking like one of hockey’s toughest, Subban instead looks like a little kid throwing a temper tantrum on the ice.
Hockey’s most hated agitators, like Chris Pronger, have built a long career on being hard-nosed and as a result, have been taken seriously.
It’s simply hard to take Subban seriously when it seems like every shift, he’s looking for attention more than he’s looking to win.
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Why does Philadelphia hate Mike Green?
The Capitals’ “defenseman” has been nominated for a Norris Trophy twice, the award given to the league’s top defenseman. However, Green’s defensive skills are notoriously sub-par, and much of his success comes from his aggressive offensive style, playing more like a forward taking the point on a power-play.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, the undeserved national praise given to Green during the early years of his career made stomachs turn. No Flyer has ever won the Norris Trophy, including recent Hall of Famer Mark Howe.
To see Washington’s pathetic excuse for a defenseman nearly snag the award—twice—reinforced the popular notion in Philadelphia that Gary Bettman and his henchman are trying to market the hell out of explosive players like Mike Green instead of more deserving players like the more well-rounded Kimmo Timonen.
That’s not to say that Timonen deserves the award, but shouldn’t the league’s top defenseman at least know how to play a little defense?
What’s not to hate about Matt Cooke?
Among other things, the Penguin has effectively ended the career of Boston’s Mark Savard and has single-handedly managed to become one of the league’s most hated players despite playing for hockey’s most pathetically beloved team.
When even a fair-weather Pens fan can’t defend this guy, you know he must be bad.
He ended the 2010-11 campaign with a season-ending suspension, and has experienced a slight resurgence this year, putting up 11 points in 24 games.
This early success now has people talking about his revamped image, at least until he puts another opponent in the hospital.
Matt Cooke is a scumbag and an insult to the NHL. He doesn’t need to be a Penguin for Flyers fans to hate him.
Chris Neil is one of hockey’s enforcers, though his reputation isn’t quite as positive as many. In his career, he has been accused of turtling, backing down from fights and taking cheap shots.
Neil drew the ire of Flyers fans on March 5, 2004 during one of the biggest brawls in NHL history. After Flyers’ enforcer Donald Brashear dropped the gloves with fighting legend Rob Ray, everyone on the ice dropped the gloves, including goaltenders Patrick Lalime and Robert Esche.
After the referees sorted out the penalties, the teams lined up again, with Neil positioned across from Philly’s Radovan Somik. Instead of waiting for one of Philly’s tougher customers, like Michal Handzus and Mark Recchi, Neil chose to drop the gloves with Somik.
As if that weren’t enough, after Neil won the bout and had Somik on the ground, Neil continued to throw punches to the head of the defenseless non-fighter.
Here’s to you Chris Neil. Pad those fighting stats by fighting only unknown skill players.
Skip to 2:50 in the video to see Neil's antics.
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The most popular forwards on the Flyers will universally draw comparisons to the greatest Flyer, Bobby Clarke. Whether the comparison is appropriate, it speaks a truth about the Flyers: Defensive play and toughness are just as highly valued as scoring prowess.
New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk is the anti-Clarke, and not simply because of his Russian upbringing. Kovalchuk is notoriously inept in his own zone, skating lackadaisically on the back-check and failing to neutralize opposing attackers.
Anytime the Russian sniper plays the point on the power play, the Devils find themselves running the risk of giving up a shorthanded breakaway or one-on-one situation. And with Kovalchuk on D, it might as well be a breakaway.
On top of his disinterest in his own zone, Kovalchuk rarely finds himself in scraps or standing up for teammates. Some might argue that he’s the one who is supposed to be protected, but that sort of mentality rarely flies in Philadelphia.
Nobody likes Sean Avery.
Sidney Crosby is supposed to be the player you love to hate. You loathe seeing him come to town, but secretly wish he would don your team’s colors.
Not in Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh fans would tell you that Philly is simply jealous, wishing Sid the Kid played at the Wells Fargo Center. Early in his career, that may have been true.
But the truth is, Crosby epitomizes everything that Flyers fans hate about hockey. Consistently the most penalized team in hockey, the Flyers are especially put off by Crosby’s tendency to dive and the ease with which he draws penalties from the refs.
His reputation as a whiner, while exaggerated, is not unfounded. Exacerbated by intense media scrutiny, Crosby’s opinions seem to garner more attention in the NHL than most other players. His reaction to the clean hits by Dave Steckel and Victor Hedmen that sidelined him with a concussion for more than 10 months seemed to be a subtle cry for protection from the league.
Is Philadelphia’s hatred for Crosby fair? Of course not. But is it more than just jealousy? Yes.
Many Flyers fans have disliked their own players for issues with their maturity (Mike Richards) or their lack of toughness (Jeff Carter).
If Crosby ever found himself wearing orange and black, he wouldn’t receive the vile reaction he hears when he steps on Philadelphia ice today. But, he would not be worshiped in the City of Brotherly Love the way he would be elsewhere.