20 Meanest Players in NHL History

Kevin Goff@@BrgBrigadeKevinContributor IMarch 30, 2012

20 Meanest Players in NHL History

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    The NHL is a mean game that requires players to be tough and mean when necessary.

    Some players enjoy the job of being mean a bit more than others do and make an entire career out of it.

    These are the players that make everybody think twice about going into the corner after a puck because they know that no matter who comes up with the puck, they'll be punished for it.

    Love them or hate them, these players (in no particular order) have a mean streak that make them respected throughout hockey.

Adam Foote

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    Foote might be a little bit of a stretch for this list but don't tell that to Brendan Shanahan. Or Keith Tkachuk.

    Foote had some absolute battles with several of the very best power forwards in the league.

    To be as successful as Foote was throughout his career, he had to play mean, and he did.

    Foote was a master of the forearm "shiver" and laid out a lot of guys in his time.

Marty McSorley

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    Marty McSorley is another one of the best pure fighters of the game.

    He knew the role he had on the team and he played it very well.  It was well known that if you touched the star player on his team, then you were going to have McSorley to answer to.

    Possibly the second-best fighter of his time, only to Bob Probert, McSorley's mean streak was well known and often got him into trouble.

    That didn't matter to McSorley though, his job was to make you think twice at all times.

Chris Chelios

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    Chris Chelios is a fantastic defenseman that played for a long time.

    As he got older, Chelios relied more on good positioning and solid stick work, which he always had anyways.

    In his younger days he also had quite the mean streak, especially if you were going towards the front of his net.

    Chelios was simply so strong that he could really clear anybody from out in front of the net that he wanted to.

Bobby Clarke

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    Bobby Clarke was captain of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s and a more perfect representation of what his team was like could not be found.

    Clarke played with a mean streak a mile wide and was an inspiration to his teammates as a result of it.

    Though his accomplishments with the Broad Street Bullies of the Flyers were numerous, Clarke might be best known for the slash on Valeri Kharlamov that broke his ankle during the 1972 Summit Series.

    Those games were an eight-game "good will" series that sure didn't seem to have a lot of good will within them.

Matthew Barnaby

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    Considered by man as the greatest agitator of all time, mean is one of the best words to describe Matthew Barnaby.

    Barnaby would fight with his fists and with his mouth every single game.

    He played a dirty game and talked an even dirtier one, which was bound to get under the skin of everybody, even if they were on his own team.

    When Barnaby played for Buffalo, teammate Rob Ray couldn't stand him (see 7:11 of the video above).

    Given the fact that both Barnaby and Ray were fighters, it makes one wonder exactly how far things went in the locker room.

Rob Ray

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    I'm convinced that Rob Ray would do this to a guy walking the wrong direction on the street, this guy is just that mean.

    I really do hope that Ray took up being a security guy as ESPN tried to help him do in the '90s.  

    That would be a match made in heaven.

Mark Messier

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    Mark Messier was a great player but was also one of the meanest and dirtiest.

    Don't take that the wrong way, Messier was incredibly skilled and had the ability to impose his will on games.

    There's a reason this guy was a part of six Stanley Cup winning teams.

    At the same time, when Messier wanted to, he could be one of the meanest guys on the planet.

    When you least expected it, Messier could take a run at you similar to the one he took at Mike Modano.

Ron Hextall

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    Ron Hextall was another goalie that made a habit of being mean.

    Hextall surpassed 100 penalty minutes in a season three times in his career.

    Think about that, a goalie that manages to take over 100 penalty minutes is incredibly rare.

    Hextall wasn't just mean, the guy bordered on being completely crazy at times.

Scott Stevens

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    Scott Stevens was one of the meanest hitters that also managed to mostly stay within the rules of the game.

    You always had to know when Stevens was on the ice, otherwise you would quickly be on the ice.

Ted Lindsay

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    "Terrible" Ted Lindsay is widely considered one of the best left wingers to play the game of hockey.

    He had the good fortune of playing on the same line with Gordie Howe and played the game largely the same way Mr. Hockey did.

    You have to be a pretty mean fellow for people in the league to call you "Terrible" as your nickname.

Billy Smith

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    Billy Smith was one of the best big-game goalies that every played the game.

    He was also one of the meanest sons of guns that ever put on a set of goalie pads.

    Smith was well known for the way that he would punish players for standing anywhere near his crease.

    He'd slash them, punch them, tackle them, do absolutely anything he could think of to make a player think twice about coming near his crease.

    One of the things Smith is best remembered for is his slash on Wayne Gretzky in Game 1 of the 1983 Stanley Cup Finals.

Bryan Marchment

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    Bryan Marchment was another guy who made a name for himself with his fists, mostly.

    Stars fans remember him in a less-than-fond manner thanks to hits like this and the one he laid on Joe Nieuwendyk.

    You never really wanted to go into the corner against Marchment because you would likely catch an elbow or his stick up high.

    Mean and dirty.

Joey Kocur

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    Joey Kocur played on the Detroit Red Wings at the same time as Bob Probert did.

    That is easily one of the scariest things that anybody on any team would ever see as a literal one-two punch.

    Kocur was just as mean as Probert and just as apt to fight.

    Probert gets most of the notoriety from that team, but Kocur was no slouch himself.

Dale Hunter

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    Dale Hunter was one of the biggest pests on the planet that had a tendency to occasionally snap.

    The moment he is best known for is taking a horrendous cheap shot on Pierre Turgeon after Turgeon scored a big goal.

    Hunter was known for taking many "liberties" during his day.

Dave "Tiger" Williams

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    Dave "Tiger" Williams is one of the best energy players that every played in the NHL.

    Tiger was best known for his fighting and penalty minutes, of which he took more than 3,000 in his career, but Tiger was also able to score.

    He broke the 20-goal mark four times in his career, broke the 30-goal mark once and was close to the 20-goal mark five other times in his career.

    Williams is also in the record books as the player who took the most penalty minutes in a career (3,966) and averaged just over four penalty minutes a game.

    In addition to his toughness and mean streak, Williams also knew how to celebrate a goal.

Gordie Howe

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    Mr. Hockey is one of the greatest ever to play the game.

    The long-time all-time scoring leader of the game was another player that had a big mean streak in him.

    He was vicious when reminding players not to mess with him and his elbows became infamous in his time.

    He may have been one of the meanest guys out there, but everybody on the ice respected him.

Ken Linseman

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    Not so affectionately known as "The Rat," Ken Linseman made a name for himself with slashes and spears after and away from the play.

    People can make the argument that Linseman was far dirtier than he was mean, but it definitely takes a mean guy to take as many cheap shots as Linseman did.

Tony Twist

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    Tony Twist was another guy that was just a scary man.

    He looked very under control and calm until he got hold of you. Once he got hold of you then you were done for.

    He was so strong and meaner than hell. 

Eddie Shore

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    Eddie Shore played in a different era of hockey and is best remembered for injuring Ace Bailey.

    The incident nearly killed Bailey, who endured several surgeries on a fractured skull before finally stabilizing.

    Shore played through several injuries himself throughout his career and was a fearless defender during his time.

Bob Probert

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    If Bob Probert isn't the meanest guy ever to play the game of hockey, he was easily one of the scariest.

    Probert might be the greatest fighter ever to play in the NHL and was easily the best fighter of his era.

    People who wanted to make a name for themselves as a fighter knew that the road to being considered a big-time player went straight through Probert.

    He wouldn't back down from anybody and made some of the biggest and meanest men in hockey wish they hadn't gone toe-to-toe with him.


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