Monday, September 27, 2010
As anyone that knows me, or reads this blog regularly knows, it doesn't take much for me to ratchet up the "hate" during any NHL season. The mere sight of a Canadiens jersey is enough to fire me up, and long for the days of the good old bench-clearing brawl. Ditto for Sabres, Leafs, Flyers and to a lesser extent, Rangers gear. As a Bruins fan, the "hatred" of those teams is obvious, and understandable. Particularly when it comes to Montreal, as there is a level of respect for the way they've managed to break my heart over the years. "Back in the day", the losses, while heartbreaking, were somewhat tempered by the fact that they were just good teams, with "honorable" players, for the most part. hate them as you may, it was pretty tough to disrespect guys like Larry Robinson, who was a class act. Sure, Guy Carbonneau was/is easy to hate, but every team in every era has guys like that. Of course, over the years some weird metamorphosis has taken place in La Belle Province. Now diving, cheating, hit and run cheap shot artistry has taken hold. Shame really.
But that's a team thing. My question is, who are the individual players that just get your blood boiling? The one guy in an enemy jersey that single handedly revs up the rivalry to the point where a win is nearly a secondary goal. A guy that, is so low, dirty and flat our embarrassing, despite relative "productivity", you would never want to see in a Bruins jersey? Here's my list, I'd be interested to see how it stacks up to yours. In no particular order (other that number one perhaps), I present the ten CURRENT NHL players I despise.
10: Jarko Ruutu- This guy is the ultimate cheap shot artist, a guy that is never afraid to take advantage of an unsuspecting, vulnerable player. The bigger the star, the more likely he is to unload a "questionable" hit. As evidenced by the brutal hit on Jaromir jagr in the 2006 Olympics, and the cheap shot, after the whistle knee-on-knee hit of Ilya Kovalchuck in 2008. The only thing that keeps this bum from being higher on my list, is because he will *sometimes* drop the gloves and actually answer for his actions. And by sometimes, I mean once or twice per year. Normally, he can be seen instigating a brawl, then hiding behind the refs flashing his goofy Joker-esque grin.
9:Steve Downie- This clown is an accident waiting to happen. From his blatant attempt to injure Sidney Crosby this past March, to the vicious head shot delivered to Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in a PRESEASON game in 2007 (a hit that earned him a 20 game suspension), Downie has demonstrated his lack of class wherever he's played. But at least he's an equal opportunity dirt bag. Downie has also served a 20 game suspension in the AHL, for slashing an official. Not to mention the 5 game suspension he received for a fight/hazing incident with a TEAMMATE in the OHL. He'd be much much higher on this list if he played in the division, or was still a member of the Flyers, as opposed to Tampa.
8:Patrick Kaleta- This pest probably deserves to be higher on the list, but frankly he's so pathetic to watch, I don't want to give him the honor of ranking any higher than 8. The fact that the ever delusional Sabres fan base considers him an "enforcer" is equally pathetic.....and yet another example of why I hate Buffalo. Their fans are beyond ridiculous. But hey, I guess living in that hell-hole, complete with exactly zero championships in anything, is enough to make anyone a little loopy. Kaleta, is generally the first guy to run his mouth....then run to the bench. He's also a world-class diver, which should come as no surprise. Buffalo seems to be taking a page out of the Montreal playbook in recent years. The slightest contact with Kaleta will send him sprawling. Plays and players like this need to be removed from the NHL. It's embarrassing.
7:Chris Neil- Neil is one of those tough choices. He's a guy you hate, but can't always put a finger on exactly why. Then, you watch him play and it all comes back to you. A decent fighter, who stands out from the others on this list in that he will fight anyone, any time. But his constant yapping, whining and inexcusable diving are just too much to leave him off any "pest" list. Neil has come full circle in his career. When he first broke into the NHL, he was nothing more than a fighter. A few years in, he suddenly decided he could score a little. He topped out at 16 goals in 2006, while adding 204PIMS. Decent production to be sure. But still, I prefer my "enforcers" to let their game do the talking, something Neil has never been able to do. His full time mouth, combined with his over acting ways earn him a spot here. Congrats.
6:Scott Walker- Do I really need to mention how Walker earned his spot on this list? Yes, sometimes all it takes is one despicable act to earn a lifetime in my dog house. And there haven't been many acts more gutless than the absolute sucker punch Walker threw on our (beloved) Aaron Ward in the playoffs in 2009. How he didn't get suspended is beyond me, and pretty much sums up what is wrong with the NHL's supplementary discipline system. Even before throwing that punch, he was essentially the third man in, and made his entrance by elbowing Ward square in the face. What a hero you are, Mr. Walker. Not enough bad things can happen to this punk as far as I'm concerned. (and yes, maybe I'm still a little bitter that he, of all people, scored the series clinching goal for Carolina).
At the half way point, and I'm already FIRED UP....the regular season can't get here fast enough!
5: Dan Carcillo. A RAT, period. Carcillo piled up 17 fighting majors last year, which on the surface would seem to remove him from the "pest" discussion. But since this is my "most hated", not "biggest pest" list, he's easily top 5 material. The fact that he only ranks 5th surprises even me. But as usual, this list is fluid, and any of these guys can rise & fall with the tides of the season. The number of bouts this dirt bag piled up last year is slightly skewed once you take a look at some of his hand picked dance partners. There was of course the blatant sucker punch of renowned heavyweight Matt Bradley. And lets not forget his monumental achievement in taking on legendary goon Marion Gaborik. Please. This guy picks his spots with the best of them. Not a fighter? He's your guy. At the end of a long shift? He'll be your huckleberry. Got your head down, and have no idea you're even in a fight? Yep, dance reservation is booked. Beyond the selective fighting is his history of questionable hits, and so many dives it would make a Canadiens fan blush is the fact that EVERYTHING this piece of dirt does is for show. He's an extremely selfish player, who will run his mouth, play to the crowd and take foolish penalties at the worst times. How and why he's considered by some to be a "good teammate" is beyond me. Not sure he knows the meaning of "team", and I'd never want him on mine.
4:Sean Avery- I know, 4 does seem low, doesn't it? But this ass hat's act has gotten so old and tiresome, that it almost seems like old news to rank him any higher. Avery's long list of, shall we say, "unfortunate incidents", has been well documented. From his cheap shotting, constant yapping, turtling and generally running away from nearly every incident he incites, to his ridiculous "look at me" comments off the ice. every part of him and his whole act are just plain played out. Another guy that somehow is considered a decent teammate.....until his act wears thin there, then it's on to the next. I have to believe his act wouldn't play well in Boston, where we prefer our guys to actually back up their words. Shame, because if he lost the circus side-show aspect of his game, he is a decent player. But one not worth all the negatives he brings.
3:Steve Ott- What in the world were the Dallas Stars thinking a couple years ago when they had both Ott and Avery on the same team. I feel bad for every player on that roster that had to put up with their nonsense. And more often than not, pay the price for their shenanigans (just think of poor Matt Niskanen getting filled in by Sheriff Shane Hnidy after Ott spent the night stirring the pot, and not answering for his own actions. To recap that night: Ott threw at least three dirty, very low hits (Yelle, Lucic and Savard). He flat out ran away from and refused to drop the gloves with Thornton, Hnidy or Lucic. That one game is a perfect microcosm of this ass's career. He's been cheap and dirty his entire career. And honestly, he isn't a good enough hockey player to get away with it. I'm still stunned he's been able to stick around as long as he has. A complete embarrassment, not only to the NHL, but to anyone with any shred of pride.
2: Matt Cooke- Obviously his gutless, predatory cheap shot hit on Marc Savard vaulted this gutless, worthless puke to the #2 spot on my list. For sheer violence of action, he should probably be ranked #1. Even without the Savard hit on his resume, he has a long enough history to be a top 5 most hated around the league. In an eerily similar hit to the Savard one, Cooke was suspended two games for a "targeted blow to the head" of Sergei Anisimov of the NY Rangers. Another blind side, head high elbow on a player that had already released the puck. Makes it even more amazing that this piece of trash wasn't suspended for the Savard hit. But Cooke isn't just a one trick pony. In addition to a series of head shots, he's also a bigfan of knee on knee hits (as Eric Cole), Slew Foots (see; Colin Fraser) and extremely late hits on players doing such threatening things as making a line change (as in, Zach Parise). Look these incidents, among many others, up on youtube. It's amazing he's still standing. Although I have to admit, I became a huge Evander Kane fan the day Kane scored a one-punch knock out on Cooke. Good times, should happen on a nightly basis. If anyone deserves to feel the effects of post concussion syndrome themselves, it's this head hunting coward.
Well, after all that ranting through the first 9, who could possibly earn my coveted #1 most hated player in the NHL? It may or may not surprise you....
1: Mike Komisarek- Now, don't let the fact that "Komi" wasn't around to cause much trouble last season cloud your memory of this gutless puke. One of my main criteria is, if you're going to run your mouth, take liberties and "act tough" out there, you had damn well better be willing to answer the bell every time. Komisarek, unfortunately doesn't believe he should be held responsible for anything he says or does out there. And as much as little guys running around acting tough drives me crazy, it's even more infuriating when a big kid acts like a coward. And Komisarek, at 6'4" 225lbs is certainly big enough to go with the big boys. If he's going to play "on the edge", he needs to step up. At the very least, if you aren't going to drop the gloves, SHUT YOUR MOUTH. He's constantly chirping and whining about something. He's big on waiting for the refs to get between him and whoever want to "talk" with him, then start making bug gestures like he's actually interested in going. Please. Everyone knows that is all for show. He really needs to just skate away with his tail between his legs like the beaten dog he is. Even after Lucic pounded him (FINALLY), Komisarek refused to let go of his jersey after the refs stepped in, in some lame attempt to look like he didn't just get his teeth kicked in or something. Of course the fact that all of this transpired while he was wearing a Canadiens sweater made it all the more entertaining. I can only pray that he's healthy this year, because that will put the Bruins-Leafs games over the top. With Komi "doing his thing", and Lucic looking to repent for last season's down year, things could get very interesting. (and with Colton Orr on the prowl protecting "komi", my man McGrattan would be well utilized freeing up Thornton, Lucic, Stuart or anyone else that can get a hold of Komisarek.)
Man, it's only September and I'm already in mid-season hatred form. So that's my top ten as of today. As I said, that's subject to change as the season goes on. Perhaps a new "villain" will appear, or one of these chumps does something even more outrageous. If they do, it's obviously an attempt on their part to climb higher on my list.
Man up and answer the bell,