30 of the Biggest Heels in NHL History
The dictionary defines a "heel" as "a contemptibly dishonorable or irresponsible person."
As we've seen so far this year, there are a number of players that have been dealt with by Brendan Shanahan's office that are repeat offenders. But are they at a level of all-time classlessness?
In this slideshow, we'll look at 30 individuals, players and otherwise, in the history of the NHL that have been viewed by fans and/or their peers as being a heel. Obviously, there are individuals that are hated by one or two specific cities, but the following 30 are universally viewed in a negative light.
Is it bad form to call someone a heel if he's known for smacking a fan with their shoe? Puns aside, Milbury doesn't know when to shut up and has become one of the most annoying talking heads on any network. When he talked over Jeremy Roenick's emotions after the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, you could tell Roenick wanted to toss him out of the booth. And not many fans would have had a problem with it if he had.
THN recently rated Kaleta as a more hated player than Sean Avery, and his track record of cheap shots speaks for itself. Outside of Buffalo, not many fans or players can stand him or his antics.
The recently suspended Tootoo has a history of issues on and off the ice. He's a grinder that plays an aggressive game, but he's far too willing to cross the line and make a play that causes injury.
The lasting image most fans have of Gillies is him hammering Eric Tangradi into the boards and then throwing punches at a clearly injured player. Once he was sent to the showers, he stood off the ice barking at the injured player as he was helped from the ice. Classless and unnecessary.
Hey, Pierre...where did this guy play his junior hockey? Did he go to college? Could you maybe relate their experience at a lower level of hockey to their NHL game today? Perhaps compare someone to Bryan Trottier?
He's the most annoying talking head in the game today, and every time he's involved in a Pens telecast it seems like someone should call the folks at To Catch A Predator. One of the few times a majority of fans agreed with Milbury was when he called Pierre a soccer mom.
An all-time cheap-shot artist who is almost personally responsible for the end of Cam Neely's career, he never had a problem aiming for an opponent's knees. Neely isn't the only career cut short because of cheap plays from Samuelsson.
After 50 years of family ownership, it was Bruce Norris that finally ran the Detroit Red Wings so far into the ground that he was forced to sell the "Dead Wings." However, as most Wings fans will tell you, the sale of the franchise from a clueless business man to Mike Ilitch is the best thing that's happened to that city since Ford created an assembly line.
"The Rat" was always annoying opponents, and he was one of the most effective talkers of his era. Linseman would chirp anyone...and give them a good whack when nobody was looking.
Known as "The Grate One," Tikkanen was one of the most annoying and pesky players in his era. He had no problem taking as many cheap shots as he could while the refs weren't looking in order to make someone mad every night.
He doesn't have the suspension resume of many of the guys on this list and doesn't pile up huge penalty minute totals, but Bolland's mouth is always going and he gets under the skin of his opponents almost every night.
If you're familiar with the Toronto Maple Leafs, you undoubtedly know that Ballard is considered one of the worst owners in professional sports and is hated by fans as much as any player on any rival of the Leafs.
How about 13 suspensions in 12 years? He's one of the most hated players in league history, largely because of his willingness to go knee-to-knee with opponents. He skated with intent to injure for too much of his career.
More than one former teammate has called out his effort and "compete level." He's one of the more enigmatic players in the league today because he has the talent to be one of the best but always seems to settle for being somewhere above average.
An enforcer throughout his career, he rarely passed on an available cheap shot. He'll live in infamy for being penalized for an illegal stick blade in a postseason game...among the list of cheap shots.
Now the head coach of the Capitals, unfortunately the lasting image of Hunter for many fans was a cheap shot. Pierre Turgeon had scored an overtime, playoff-series-winning goal to eliminate Hunter's Caps, and his response was hammering Turgeon and injuring his shoulder.
Reay's 542 total career wins still rank 11th all time, but because he never put much stock in his relationship with the media, Reay is still (somehow) not in the Hockey Hall of Fame. His players respected him, but he was in many ways the Mike Keenan of his era.
One of the all-time great face washers, he is best remembered for the concussion that led to the premature end of Eric Lindros' career. Like so many others on this list, his hits were often late and their goal was injury.
Colorado fans will probably disagree with this selection, but Foote was notoriously playing on the wrong side of the line between playing hard and playing dirty. He finished checks with intent to injure and never backed away from a cheap shot.
He's been described by his peers as one of the cockiest players in the game, and he has become more aloof as he has gained league-wide recognition for his abilities on the ice. Kesler also has no problem taking a shot at a smaller player when given the chance.
If you don't know how many people hated him on the ice, just ask a hockey fan over the age of 35 what their opinion is of Lemieux. He was consistently dirty, loved joining fights late and always hitting smaller players. Too many players missed ice time because teams were paying this guy.
He's remembered by former players like Jeremy Roenick as a coach most of his players wanted to fight by the end of a practice. He was short with the media and was a big fan of the bag skate. There's a reason he's working for VERSUS now and isn't behind a bench.
He ended the career of Mike Peca with a cheap knee-to-knee hit, and he never had a problem taking a player out of a game. He played hard, but often he played too hard for the good of the game.
Pronger is a quirky guy who has been respected by teammates throughout his career, but he's also rubbed some media and many organizations the wrong way. Certainly his forcing a trade out of Edmonton after only one year didn't leave a positive impression with many Oilers fans.
As a player, Vigneault was notorious for jumping into fights that weren't his and for hitting players from behind. In this video, and others you can view on Youtube, you can see his regard for the integrity of the game.
To Cooke's credit, he's avoided headlines for cheap shots this year. But his past is what it is, and fans all over the league hate Cooke's willingness to aim for a player's head.
Norm is the man that did the unthinkable: He took hockey away from Minnesota. The owner of the North Stars who moved the franchise to Dallas, he's remembered by many fans in Minnesota with the same middle name fans in Boston gave Bucky Dent.
Whenever the league hands you a suspension that isn't defined, you know you're a dirty player. Sutton will be punished as the first repeat offender under Brendan Shanahan's administration in the coming days. He's a cheap player.
Where do we begin? He's one of the least respected players to ever play in the league, and he has had rules created just to forbid the stupidity he brings to the ice. His comments about Dion Phaneuf's personal life may get a chuckle, but they appropriately represent one of the most classless individuals in league history.
Now unemployed because he's too stupid to call a cab, Barnaby was always a jerk as a player and has been just as much since his playing career ended. He never passed up a cheap shot on the ice, and his domestic disturbance issues indicate he gives his spouse as much respect as he did opponents.
The dude's wardrobe makes Liberace seem colorblind, and his opinions make Donald Trump seem soft spoken. Maybe the only thing anyone appreciates about Sean Avery are his comments about this ridiculous owner of the fugliest wardrobe in history.