You know what I love about hockey? I love the way certain players just piss me off. I know that sounds crazy, but I really do. “Hating” other teams and players, which isn’t real hate (usually), is fun. It gets your blood pumping and your juices flowing, and that makes you feel alive.
Can players in other sports do that? Sometimes, sure. But not quite as often. The NHL has players whose sole reason for being in the league is to piss people off. You don’t see that in the NBA, NFL, or MLB.
If you aren’t buying any of this, that’s fine. I could try to construct a nuanced argument for why it’s the case, but that’s hard, and you don’t want to read a 2,000 word essay anyway. Instead, I’m just going to provide you with a list of players that make NHL fans clench their fists and scream at the TV until every vein in their forehead is about to pop–a list that you couldn’t do quite as easily for the other leagues, and one that people will surely disagree with…which will only drive my point home.
Ready to start? Then let’s go.
I didn't want to put John Scott too high on the list and risk overreacting to the headshot he recently delivered to Loui Eriksson. But this guy has been an enforcer in the NHL for years, and now he's just getting plain dirty. And yeah, I'd like to punch him in the face.
17. John Scott (Sabres)
Scott Harnell is a good hockey player, and I'd probably love to have him on my team. But man does he piss me off. Last year he led the league in stick violations—i.e., slashing and crosschecking penalties. Douche.
16. Scott Hartnell (Flyers)
How can you hate a cute little 5'9" hockey player like Danny Briere? Because, despite his size, he's a pretty nasty guy. If your stars were going up against him all the time, you'd hate him.
15. Danny Briere (Canadiens)
If Sidney Crosby weren't the best hockey player in the world he wouldn't be so annoying. What makes people want to punch him in the face is all the hypocrisy. He'll whine about getting slashed and mistreated, then he'll do the same thing to other guys. JUST SHUT UP AND PLAY HOCKEY BEFORE I SLAP THE PEACH FUZZ OFF YOUR FACE!
14. Sidney Crosby (Penguins)
I said I want to slap the peach fuzz off Crosby's face, not sweep the leg. Steve Downie is one of the biggest pricks in all of sports. In addition to beauties like this, he also received a 20-game suspension for this. Yes, he's more mature now, but I still want to punch his face every time I see it. (I don't, of course, because I only see it on television.)
13. Steve Downie (Avalanche)
Steve Ott is one of the NHL's greatest agitators, an expert at getting under people's skin. Obviously.
12. Steve Ott (Sabres)
This clip is Kaleta in a nutshell. Charging, head-butting, and diving? This is the kind of player you might actually hate. (Like, hate hate. Not sports hate.)
11. Patrick Kaleta (Sabres)
Sedin is so talented and dangerous. He can be a joy to watch....until someone from the opposing team bumps into him, at which point he falls to the ice grabbing his face.
Seriously, he does this sort of thing all the time. He's an embarrassment to the league.
10. Henrik Sedin (Canucks)
Jordin Tootoo has gained a reputation as one of the NHL's biggest cheap shot artists. He does crap like this all the time. People hate him and wish terrible things to befall him, and I don't blame these people.
9. Jordin Tootoo (Red Wings)
Here was have a clip of P.K. Subban diving. However, what really makes you want to punch him in his face is all his chirping. The kid just never shuts up. Ever. You just want to slap him silly with his own glove.
(That being said, off the ice P.K. seems like a pretty cool guy.)
8. P.K. Subban (Canadiens)
This is all you need to know about Mike Ribeiro. Yes, he's a good hockey player who averages just under 20 goals a season. But this is why people do and always will hate him.
7. Mike Ribeiro (Coyotes)
From the dirty knee-to-knee hits to the flamboyant goal celebrations, the Great Eight's exuberance is just too much. Too, too much. I would very much like to punch him in the face.
6. Alex Ovechkin (Capitals)
Honestly, you could include half the Boston Bruin's team on this list. They, along with the Vancouver Canucks, have the most annoying, face-punch-worthy rosters in the NHL.
However, just saying "Boston Bruins" is cheating, so I singled out Brad Marchand. As you can see in this brilliant video starring Bruins coach Claude Julien (who I'd also like to punch in the face), Marchand is THE WORST.
5. Brad Marchand (Bruins)
It's not just that Carcillo is a dirty player. It's the way he plays dirty. This video (in which Don Cherry is in rare form) really says it all.
Speaking of Don Cherry, sometimes I'd like to punch him in the face, too.
4. Daniel Carcillo (Blackhawks)
Is there a bigger headhunter scumbag piece of garbage in the league than Raffi Torres? I'm not even sure he has a soul, that's how dirty he plays. Just ask Brent Seabrook. Or Marian Hossa. Or Jarret Stoll.
Matt Cooke cleaned up his game. He saw the light. Why can't this guy?
3. Raffi Torres (Sharks)
It's rare that a person's entire character (as a hockey player, at least) can be captured so thoroughly in a short video clip. And yet that's what we have here. This clip is Maxim Lapierre: the biggest pest in the NHL.
2. Maxim Lapierre (Blues)
If Lapierre is the NHL's best pest, Burrows is a close second. He gets the overall edge on this list, however, because he doesn't just annoy. He also flops, whines, and most famously, bites.