The Most Hated Players in NHL History
There you are in the locker room getting pumped up for another NHL game. You’re sitting there tying your skates, taping your socks, strapping your shoulder pads and you proudly put on that professional jersey that you have dreamed about all your life. Standing at the door you can hear the crowd screaming loud and now the adrenaline is flowing through you at an incredible speed. You get to lead your team on the ice and reality sets in. Everybody in the arena hates you; maybe not as person but certainly as a hockey player.
People prove this with signs, finger gestures, throwing garbage and of course, many creative yelling comments. The opposition and their fans contemplate how to murder you and your own teammates only like you because you are on their team.
This top 10 list is based on the players who have earned the right for either that one stupid moment in their professional life or for the career of pestiness, annoyance and grit that defined who they are on the ice. The word “respect” no longer linked to or from these players and will they never have a chance to regain it.
Also, there is no one on this list that played prior to the 1980’s since hockey was different then and everybody hated everybody for no reason besides the fact that they were on the other team.
The bottom line is that every player on my list is either hated for their agitation or for those famous moments when they forgot to think.
And now, we will not keep you waiting...
#10 – Todd Bertuzzi
Oh Todd. What the hell happened?
Bertuzzi went from being the best power forward in the league to the biggest fool with one sucker punch. Back in March of 2004, Big Bert decided to get revenge on Colorado Avalanche’s Steve Moore for his apparent attempt to injure Markus Naslund the month before. His revenge was with a full body right hook to the side of Moore’s head from behind. If the punch didn’t knock him unconscious, it was Bertuzzi’s 240 pound frame that did when it fell on Moore’s noggin.
It was all downhill after that. Not only did every player and fan in the league lose respect for him but Bertuzzi lost it in himself. After failed stints in Florida, Anaheim and Detroit, it looks like his signing with Calgary is his last hope.
#9 – Mike Ribeiro
A very highly talented player and yet, Ribeiro is known as a punk. This guy will run his mouth like he is a heavyweight but rarely got into a fight with guys smaller than him. It’s not his mouth though that has put him on this list; it’s Ribeiro’s love of disrespecting others.
When he was playing with the Montreal Canadiens in the 2004 playoffs against the Boston Bruins, he got tangled up with Martin Lapointe at center ice. With Montreal winning and only 33 seconds left in the game, Ribeiro literately went down from the tangle as if he got shot in the shoulder with a shot gun at point blank range. He was on the ice screaming, squirming while holding his shoulder for a good 15 minutes until he got up on his own power to still have the energy to challenge the entire Bruins bench.
Just as the league was beginning to reconsider their thoughts of Ribiero, his disrespect continues. During the 07-08 playoffs, his Stars were playing the Red Wings and after the final whistle blew he decided to baseball bat Chris Osgood in the chest. Though it wasn’t hard, the intent was there.
#8 – Darcy Tucker
If not in the league, Tucker should never go to Long Island all alone. Back in the 2002 playoffs, he pretty much ended the career of Mike Peca with a knee on knee body check. No penalty was given and Tucker even skated away with a grin on his face. Plus, the guy just has that filthy halo around his head that no one likes.
#7 – Dale Hunter
Hunter is #2 on the all-time penalty minutes list behind Tiger Williams and will always be remembered for one of the dirtiest plays ever. Pierre Turgeon had scored a playoff series winning goal in overtime to beat Hunter’s Capitals. Instead of skating to the locker room, Hunter blindsided Turgeon into the boards, separating his shoulder.
#6 – Sean Avery
Good ole’ Avery. He sure does his job well as one of the leagues best nuisances. Avery has the biggest mouth in the league and rarely drops the gloves. He is commonly heard making comments about player’s personal lives, even at one point being accused of making fun of Jason Blake’s cancer ordeal.
Avery even openly said that all French players hide behind their visors and cannot play hockey. When the slightly bigger Ian Laperriere of the Kings challenged Avery to defend his comments, Avery did what he did best; skate away.
There have incidents where he has gone out of his way to agitate players followed by a dive when the ref was looking. How can we forget his “waving of the stick” in front of Martin Brodeur in last season’s post-season. You need earmuffs when playing against this guy.
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#5 – Chris Simon
Simon used be a solid offensive contributor but he always had a dirty side. He has done every bad thing in the league at least once which has led to his eight suspensions equalling over 65 games.
Simon has used a racial slur against Mike Grier and blatantly cross-checked Peter Popovic in the face for minor suspensions. He did some serious time for deliberately two-handing Ryan Hollweg in face in a sort of retaliation and then to finish his NHL career, Simon thought it would be wise to stomp on Jarkko Ruutu’s leg when he was on the ground.
There is no question that Simon always backed up his stupidity and would drop the gloves with everyone. The point is that no one wanted to be on the ice with him, not even his teammates.
#4 – Matthew Barnaby
Barnaby invented and perfected the agitator role in the NHL. During his time in the league, fans loved to hate him but hated to love him at the same time. He would “ice” goalies, pretend to use his stick as a weapon but more annoyingly, he would never shut up.
When it came down to it, he would fight any middleweight contender at any time. What made him different was when he was an obvious underdog in a fight, he would simply hold on for the ride with his famous smile and throw a surprise punch for fun. Heaven forbid if he won a fight because he would let everyone know with his excessive celebrations.
#3 – Darius Kasparitus
Kasparitus was always a hard worker who made the hip-check famous. For this, he was hated. Many thought his checks were late, dirty and were only attempts to injure. He was one the few to really get under the skin of Mario Lemieux but no one could do anything about it.
One of the most famous things Kasparitus has done was give Eric Lindros a major concussion that took Lindros out for nearly two months. He was also one of the few players that you would not want to be in the corner with; he was known to give a face wash or two.
#2 - Bryan Marchment
This guy was suspended 13 times in a span of 12 seasons. Every time Marchment was on the ice, you knew someone was going to get hurt and you knew it wasn’t going to be from a clean body check. Marchment was consistently injuring players with his dirty hits, most of them knee on knee.
He has given serious injuries to players like Mike Modano, Paul Kariya, Pavel Bure and even partially collapsing a lung of Mike Gartner’s. It was always a mystery why teams wanted to sign since he was nothing more than useless tool.
And my winner for the most hated player in NHL history goes to…
#1 – Claude Lemieux
Do I really have to tell you why?
Lemieux has never been shy to do what it takes to win a game or a fight. He has even attempting to bite off an opposing player’s finger in the middle of scuffle for some reason. Lemieux wasn’t even liked among his own teammates, except in the playoffs where he excelled. Ultimately, the playoffs were also where he made his mark as the dirtiest player in history.
It was during a playoff battle between his Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings. Lemieux decided it would be fun to violently body-hammer Kris Draper into the boards, leaving Draper needing reconstructive surgery to fix his injuries. The injuries included a broken jaw, a broken nose, a broken cheekbone and a severe concussion. This of course led to a very famous line brawl and to an immediate suspension.
We all knew that a retaliation was coming but just not sure when. Finally, nearly a year later Darren McCarty’s initial revenge was countered by a "turtled" Lemieux. After the very next whistle, the two did tango with Lemieux holding his own against the heavyweight.
With everyone around him hating him and some even plotting his murder, Claude Lemieux is well deserved to be the most hated player in NHL history.
Most Hated Players with Honorable Mention:
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
Find all of Kevin's Best of the NHL articles here at Pro Hockey Fans!
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