Ranking the 10 Most Hated Players in NHL History

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IJuly 13, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Hated Players in NHL History

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    There have been many hated players throughout NHL history, but this list contains the 10 most disliked players.

    These players can be disliked by fans, opposing players, officials, coaches or even their own teammates.

    Players on this list are ranked based on the intensity of the hatred against them, how many people hated them and the reason for that hatred. The player's place in NHL history is also a factor.

    Feel free to comment and discuss other players you feel deserve to be on this list. Again, say why you feel your choice belongs in the top 10 and who you would have them replace on the list. Keep in mind it's difficult to limit the list to just 10 players, as there are a lot of hated players throughout NHL history.

10. Sidney Crosby

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    Very few hockey fans will argue that Sidney Crosby is not one of the best players in hockey these days, but very few will also disagree that he is probably the most hated.

    Google "Sidney Crosby hate" and you will get 607,000 results. Most call the Penguins' captain a whiner, a diver or a complainer.

    There's even an "I Hate Sidney Crosby" page on Facebook with more than 2,600 likes that includes "photos" and plenty of comments from fans discussing why they dislike Crosby.

    The bottom line is that fans of the other 29 teams love to hate Sidney Crosby, and it's probably in large part due to jealousy.

    Say what you want about Crosby, but nearly all fans would love to have a player as talented and as productive (when healthy) as Sid the Kid on their team.

9. Claude Lemieux

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    Claude Lemieux was considered one of the best clutch players of his time, but he was also one of the most hated for the way he got under the skin of opposing players and for crossing the line to dirty play.

    One of Lemieux's most infamous moments came during a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames when Lemieux allegedly bit Calgary forward Jim Peplinski.

    In 1996, Lemieux checked Detroit's Kris Draper from behind and Draper crashed face first into the boards. The result was a broken jaw, a broken nose and a broken cheekbone along with a concussion. It also went a long way to solidifying an often ugly rivalry between the Avalanche and the Red Wings for the next decade. Lemieux received a two-game suspension for his actions.

    The bottom line is that the Buckingham, Quebec, native was an agitator, a pest and often played dirty, but he was willing to do nearly anything to help his team win a hockey game.

    The result was four Stanley Cups for three different franchises and the anger and hate of opposing players and fans throughout the NHL.

8. Chris Pronger

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    It's obvious why Chris Pronger was hated in Edmonton. Right after helping lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, the big defenseman demanded a trade out of town. The Oilers haven't been back to the playoffs since, and the fans in Edmonton hate Pronger as a result.

    Elsewhere across the league, Pronger was disliked primarily for the way he played the game. The 6'6", 210-pound native of Dryden, Ontario, played a physical game that often crossed the line and caused injury to opponents.

    The most infamous incident took place in March 2008 when Pronger was suspended eight games for stomping on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.

    Pronger was also suspended by the NHL twice in the 2007 playoffs, including once in the Western Conference Final for a hit on Tomas Holmstrom and once in the Stanley Cup Final for a blow to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond.

    In total, Pronger was suspended eight times by the NHL before concussions and other injuries put his career in serious jeopardy.

    Pronger's career may be over, but he remains one of the league's all-time most hated players.

7. Marty McSorley

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    Marty McSorley was always a tough guy, an enforcer or a goon, depending on who you asked.

    McSorley played both forward and defense, but what he did best was defend teammates, most notably Wayne Gretzky. He played with The Great One in both Edmonton and Los Angeles and was known as his bodyguard.

    But McSorley earned a permanent spot on this list with an incident that took place during the final game of his NHL career.

    On February 21, 2000, McSorley was suspended indefinitely by the NHL after clubbing Vancouver's Donald Brashear in the head with his stick. Brashear suffered a serious concussion.

    This blatant attack resulted also resulted in criminal assault charges being brought against McSorley. He was sentenced to 18 months probation. He never played another game in the NHL again.

6. Matt Cooke

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    Can a hockey player truly change the way he plays the game? Some fans have been asking that about Matt Cooke, who will join the Minnesota Wild this fall after spending the past five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Cooke was a first-class agitator and a true pest. His game is to antagonize opposing players and draw them into retaliations that result in power plays for his team.

    Unfortunately, Cooke has often crossed the line with his own actions, resulting in fines, suspensions and even the inspiration for a change in the rules.

    One of Cooke's most infamous hits came in 2010 when he landed a blow to the head of Boston's Marc Savard. Cooke was not suspended, but the hit helped put pressure on the league to abolish head shots.

    Some of Cooke's own teammates, including veteran Bill Guerin, would not support him after the Savard hit.

    Cooke later was suspended for a vicious hit from behind on Fedor Tyutin of Columbus and an elbow to the head of Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers.

    After those two incidents, Cooke vowed to change his ways, but he still remains a player disliked by most fans and many players around the league.

5. Dale Hunter

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    Dale Hunter was a player everybody like to have on his team but nobody like to play against.

    He played for the Nordiques, Capitals and Avalanche and amassed 3,563 penalty minutes in 1,407 career NHL games. He topped 200 penalty minutes in a season 11 times in his NHL career.

    Hunter's most infamous moment came in Game 6 of a playoff series between the Capitals and Islanders in 1993. Pierre Turgeon of the Islanders stole the puck from Hunter and scored a goal that all but clinched the series for the Islanders. Several seconds after the play was over, Hunter attacked Turgeon and separated his shoulder.  The league suspended Hunter for the first 21 games of the next season, the longest suspension up until that point.

    It was a career-defining moment for Hunter and the incident he is best remembered for, which helped land him a spot on this list.

4. Eddie Shore

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    Two generations of hockey players grew to hate Hall of Famer Eddie Shore: those that played against him and those that played for him when he later owned the Springfield Indians of the AHL.

    As a player, Shore was one of the toughest and meanest players of any era. His famous hit on Toronto's Ace Bailey ended Bailey's career and nearly killed him. The two later shook hands while Shore was playing in a benefit game to help raise money for Bailey and his family.

    He also famously fought two teammates in practice for grudges he held against them when they used to play for an opposing team.

    As the owner of the Springfield Indians, Shore was known for pinching pennies and being extreme with his players both in practice and when it came to treating injuries.

    Shore represents "Old Time Hockey" in the movie Slap Shot, because he was tough, he was mean, and he was hated.

3. Dave Schultz

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    In the 1970s, there was no team hated more than the Broad Street Bullies, and there was no player on those Flyers teams hated more than Dave "The Hammer" Schultz.

    Schultz and his teammates took fighting and physical hockey to a new level. They used intimidation as a tactic to beat more talented hockey teams and win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. The Flyers were the first expansion team to win a title.

    In his biography, The Hammer: Confessions of a Hockey Enforcer, (co-written with Stan Fischler), Schultz described how he would prepare for games by envisioning his fights against opponents' top enforcers while still in his hotel room.

    Schultz would not let the rules or the officials stop him. He certainly didn't win all of his fights, but he rarely backed down from one, either.

    In 1973-74, Schultz scored 20 goals and accumulated 348 penalty minutes as the Flyers won their first championship. In Game 7 of the semifinal against the Rangers, he badly beat up Dale Rolfe, which helped give the Flyers momentum in a 4-3 win.

    A year later, he set an NHL record that still stands when he was assessed 472 penalty minutes in 76 games as the Flyers won their second straight title.

    Schultz finished his NHL career with 2,294 penalty minutes in 535 NHL games. He was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2009.

2. Ulf Samuelsson

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    Swedish-born defenseman Ulf Samuelsson was the most hated player in the league for much of his 16-year NHL career.

    Opposing players say Samuelsson often went for the knees when he hit, and Mike Modano of the North Stars even accused Ulf of deliberately trying to injure players.

    When told he was hated, Samuelsson told Jon Scher of Sports Illustrated, "I don't care. That's my job."

    While there were many examples, the most infamous incident of bad bahavior by Samuelsson came in the 1991 Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins when he hit Boston winger Cam Neely in the knees. Neely never fully recovered from the injury and was never the same player again.

    It made Samuelsson, who was already hated in many cities around the league, public enemy No. 1 for fans in Boston.

1. Sean Avery

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    Sean Avery was the most hated hockey player during his NHL career. He was hated by fans, opponents and even his own teammates at times. He was also disliked for his actions and attitudes both on and off the ice.

    Avery's most infamous moment off the ice came while he was a member of the Dallas Stars in 2008. He called the media over and held an impromptu press conference to say another player was taking his "sloppy seconds" for dating one of his ex-girlfriends. The result was a long-term suspension and a demand from the league that he get counseling. At that point, many of his own teammates wouldn't support him.

    On the ice, Avery actually caused the NHL to instantly change the rule book after he intentionally lifted his stick to try to screen New Jersey's Martin Brodeur during a 2008 playoff game. Avery put his back to Brodeur and raised his stick to block the goalie's vision. Although there was no rule prohibiting it, the league immediately deemed it "unsportsmanlike conduct."

    Avery retired during the 2011-12 season after the Rangers sent him to the minors. The fact that he was so disliked around the league probably contributed to the early end of his career.

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