Patrick Kaleta: The NHL's Ultimate Agitator

Matthew Hogan@MattNHLHoganAnalyst IMarch 21, 2010

ATLANTA - JANUARY 14:  Steve Montador #4 watches as Patrick Kaleta #36 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates after scoring a goal against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on January 14, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Love to play with him, hate to play against him.

When the Buffalo Sabres drafted Patrick Kaleta with the 176th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, they knew that they were getting a hard-hitting grinder who may put up 10 points a season, but they didn’t know they were drafting the league’s best agitator.

From Kaleta’s bone-crushing hits to his overly elaborate goal celebrations (see picture), he knows just how to get under the opposing team's skin.

He’ll line another player up from the other side of the ice and knock them through the boards. Once he collects his first hit, then the first part of his job is done—he has let the other team know that he’s on the ice.

Once an opposing player takes exception to one of Kaleta’s hits, or one of his goalie poke-checks, or one of taunts, then the second part of his job is done—he has begun to agitate the other team.

Here, have a look at such an instance .

Once an opposing player takes a penalty on Kaleta’s behalf, then his job is complete.

In his first three seasons in the NHL, Kaleta has done something very special for the Northeast-leading Sabres. He has led the league in penalties drawn in all three seasons.

In the 2007-08 season, Kaleta led the NHL with an average of 5.0 penalties drawn per 60 minutes. Last season, Kaleta led the same category again, averaging 4.9 penalties drawn per 60 minutes.

This season has been no different for the 23-year-old native of Angola, New York. Kaleta currently leads the NHL averaging 4.0 penalties drawn per 60 minutes.

Kaleta was thrown right into his role as an agitator in his very first NHL game, back on Feb. 22, 2007—an historic game in Buffalo Sabres’ history.

The February game happens to be the same night Ottawa Senators’ forward Chris Neil took out then Sabres’ captain, Chris Drury, with a late hit that knocked Drury out of the game.

After a couple of smaller scuffles, Head Coach Lindy Ruff put out Kaleta, along with Andre Peters and Adam Mair, to mix it up with Ottawa’s top line.

You really have to see for yourself .

Kaleta got to drop the gloves with Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips in a night that he will never forget.

Whether he's just throwing a hit or finding a way to get entirely too close to the opposing goaltender, well after the whistle has blown, Kaleta has quickly become the league's top agitator.

From his first night in a Sabres’ uniform, Kaleta has become a fan favorite in Buffalo—and he is hated by fans everywhere else he goes.


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