/How Players Became Despised by Fanbases Around the NHL: Western Conference Edition

How Players Became Despised by Fanbases Around the NHL: Western Conference Edition

Every fan has that one player that just gets under your skin. Whether it’s through dirty play, whining to the referees for a call, constantly beating your team, or a combination of all three, you just can’t stand them.

So, I took to social media and asked, “Who does your fanbase hate the most?”

Anaheim Ducks: Justin Schultz, Justin Abdelkader & Gabriel Landeskog

There was no definitive answer for Ducks fans, so here are their 3 least favorite opponents:

Justin Schultz

Justin Schultz, Anaheim’s 2008 second-round draft pick, is notoriously hated throughout the Duck’s fanbase for not signing with the team. In 2012, after he had de-registered from the University of Wisconsin, the Ducks had 30 days to come to agreement on a contract with Schultz or trade him. Neither happened as Schultz was reportedly non-responsive during the process and after the 30 days were up, Schultz defected from Anaheim to the Edmonton Oilers.

Schultz’s first game in Anaheim:

Justin Abdelkader

May 4th, 2013 in Game 3 of the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings; Ducks veteran Toni Lydman is retrieving the puck in the corner, meanwhile Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader has Lydman in his sights, Lydman has his back turned, but the Wings’ forward did not let up. As Lydman begins to turn, Abdelkader leaves his feet, making contact with the head of Lydman. Abdelkader was assessed a five-minute major on the play and Lydman would have to be helped off the ice, never to play in the NHL again.

Abdelkader’s hit on Lydman:

Gabriel Landeskog

On March 9th, 2016, in a regular season game between the Avalanche and the Anaheim Ducks, Avalanche captain, Gabriel Landeskog was not penalized for an obvious hit to the head of Simon Despres who had missed 42 games with a concussion the season before. Landeskog was punished with a three-game suspension.

Landeskog’s hit on Despres:

Arizona Coyotes: Dustin Brown

On May 22nd, 2012 during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes, Dustin Brown, who is hated by much of the Western Conference, made new enemies in Michael Rozsival and Coyotes fans everywhere. In overtime, with the game tied at 3, Brown and the Kings were 1 goal away from advancing from the Stanley Cup. With 2:30 left in the first overtime, Michael Rozsival brought the puck into the Los Angeles zone offsides, Rozsival pulled up but Dustin Brown, who was coming across the zone, did not. Brown hit Rozsival knee-to-knee, sending the Coyotes defender to the ice. Brown was not penalized for the play.

Brown’s hit on Rozsival:

Calgary Flames: Ryan Kesler

Flames fans are just one of many fanbases that hate Ryan Kesler. Spending his entire 13-year career in the Pacific Division, he has garnered the reputation of an agitator.  He has been known to dive and give opposing centers a few slashes after a faceoff, making himself an enemy of almost every division rival.

While this did not start Calgary’s hate of Kesler, this moment certainly added to it. On December 29th, 2015, after the final horn of a game with the Flames, Kesler broke an unwritten hockey rule, shooting the puck into an empty Calgary net, which earned him a flurry of punches from Dennis Wideman.

Kesler shoots puck after the horn:

Chicago Blackhawks: Raffi Torres

On April 17th, 2011, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Vancouver Canucks and the Blackhawks, Raffi Torres was in his first game back from a four game suspension.

With 7:50 to play in the second period, Brent Seabrook went behind his own net to retrieve the puck as Torres chased from the other side. With Seabrook facing the other way, Torres did not let up, launching himself at the head of Seabrook. Torres was only penalized two minutes for interference and was not suspended.

Torres’ hit on Seabrook:

Exactly one year later on April 17th, 2012, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Blackhawks, Torres delivered another dirty hit to a Blackhawks player.

With 8:20 to play in the first period, Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa lost the puck in the neutral zone. Torres, coming back on the backcheck, saw the puck go to another Chicago player, swiped his stick at it and then launched himself at the head of Marian Hossa who Torres knew did not have possession.

Torres’ hit on Hossa:

Colorado Avalanche: Todd Bertuzzi

On March 8th, 2004 in the third period of an 8-2 blowout in favor of Colorado, Todd Bertuzzi was on the hunt for revenge on Avalanche forward Steve Moore. Moore, a few weeks earlier, had injured Canucks’ captain Markus Näslund with a hit to the head. After being fighting Vancouver’s Matt Cooke and being bumped all game, Moore came out for a shift about 9:30 minutes in to the third period and was harassed by Bertuzzi all around the ice. After a few jersey tugs, Bertuzzi punched Moore from behind, knocking him out. The loss of consciousness and the weight of Bertuzzi caused Moore to go face-first into the ice before a group of players jumped on top of him.

Stephen Moore spent his last ten minutes in the NHL motionless on the ice before he was stretchered off and taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with three fractured vertebrae and a concussion. He was not released from the hospital until 5 months later on August 22nd.

Bertuzzi was assessed a match penalty and was suspended for the rest of the 2003-04 season for his cheap shot.

Bertuzzi cheap shot on Steve Moore:

Dallas Stars: Corey Perry

While no one can deny Corey Perry’s talent, he has also gained the reputation of a dirty player. Over his career, Perry has done many things that have crossed the line. Most notably, his high hit on Jason Zucker, spearing Evgeni Nabokov and elbowing Claude Giroux and Jonathan Cheechoo. For Stars fans, a particular moment that justifies their hatred of Corey Perry was his spear on Stars captain Jamie Benn in Game 2 of the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Corey Perry spears Jamie Benn: 

Edmonton Oilers: Chris Pronger

Chris Pronger is one of the best defenseman of all-time and a Hockey Hall-of-Famer, but boy did he really screw over the Oilers.

After the 2004-05 lockout, the Oilers struck a trade with the St. Louis Blues to acquire 11-year veteran Chris Pronger and Michael Peca in exchange for defenseman Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch as the Blues tried to rid contracts to make it easier to sell the team.

Pronger made an immediate impact with the Oilers, putting up 12 goals and 44 assists in the regular season, leading the Oilers to a 41-28-13 record and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. While the Oilers eventually lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes, the future looked bright in Edmonton.

Just four days after the Game 7 loss, Chris Pronger wanted out of Edmonton. Through his agent, Pronger requested a trade for personal reasons. The story was that his wife was unhappy in Edmonton but there was a rumor Pronger had impregnated a local news reporter swirling around.

Eventually, Pronger was traded to the Anaheim Ducks where he led them to the Stanley Cup Championship the following season. With the sight of Pronger winning a Stanley Cup, Chris Pronger had officially become the most hated man in Edmonton.

Pronger’s Return to Edmonton Press Conference:

Los Angeles Kings: Corey Perry

Perry makes an appearance for the second time as Kings fans can’t stand the Ducks forward either.

On March 5th, 2016, early in the first period of a division matchup between the Kings and Perry’s Ducks, Perry was at it again. After an icing, Perry and Tyler Clifford collided along the boards and the two threw a few jabs at each other. While Perry was being escorted to the penalty box, he pushed Kings defenseman Luke Schenn, starting a huge brawl between the teams while Perry watched from the penalty box.

Perry starts line brawl:

Recently, on February 25th, 2017, Perry tripped up Kings captain Anze Kopitar after the whistle. While the trip didn’t look intentional, the Kings didn’t seem to like it.

Perry trips Anze Kopitar after play:

Minnesota Wild: Gabriel Landeskog

The Avalanche captain makes his second appearance on this list after multiple run-ins with division rival Minnesota Wild.

On February 28th, 2015, in the final three seconds of a 3-1 Minnesota win, Landeskog threw a punch at Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu while the two were on the bench.

Landeskog punches Koivu on the bench (1:24):

The next season, on November 5, 2016 in the third period of a 0-0 tie between Colorado and Minnesota, Landeskog got into it with Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. While searching for the puck in Dubnyk’s crease, Landeskog makes contact with Dubnyk which Dubnyk responds with a slash on Landeskog’s shin. After the slash, Landeskog retaliated with a slash of his own and the two throw punches before both teams arrive on the scene.

Landeskog & Dubnyk exchange punches:

Nashville Predators: Ryan Suter

Once a beloved player in Nashville, Suter is now a villain in the eyes of Nashville fans. Suter was drafted by the Predators in 2003 and began playing for the Predators in 2005, forming a dominant defensive pairing with Shea Weber.

In the 2012 offseason, after Suter had expressed his desire to return to Nashville and it looked like a mega deal would be struck between the two. However, on July 4th, 2012, Suter declared independence from the Predators and signed with division rival Minnesota Wild on a 13-year, $98 million. Nashville was not even given the chance to match the offer.

Nashville fans were rightfully upset that one of their homegrown players left them (to a division rival no less). Now, every time Ryan Suter returns to the Bridgestone Arena, he is showered with boos whenever he takes the ice.

Predators fans “welcome back” Ryan Suter:

St. Louis Blues: Duncan Keith

The 2-time Norris Trophy winner is one of the best defenseman in the league and has an illustrious career but not without garnering the hate of multiple fanbases, most notably; the St. Louis Blues fanbase. While Keith has been suspended multiple times for extremely dangerous plays such as: Keith’s elbow on Daniel Sedin in 2012, his slash to the face of Jeff Carter in the 2013 Western Conference Finals, and a high-stick to the face of Charlie Coyle.

But one of the biggest reasons that St. Louis fans hate Keith is for a play that Keith had no part in. It was Keith’s reaction to the play that makes Blues fans’ blood boil.

On April 19th, 2014 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between Chicago and St. Louis, Chicago’s Brent Seabrook lied out Blues forward David Backes with an extremely dangerous hit. Seabrook was penalized and suspended for the hit. But it was Duncan Keith saying “Wakey wakey Backes” taunting an unconscious Backes that infuriated Blues fans.

“Wakey wakey Backes”:

After the game, Keith was asked if he made those remarks and he said he had no recollection of saying such thing; adding fuel to an already blazing fire between him and Blues fans.

San Jose Sharks: Dustin Brown

Hated by many teams in the Western conference, Dustin Brown has earned the spot for being the most hated player for the Sharks fanbase.

On December 19th, 2013, Dustin Brown was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a knee-to-knee hit on Sharks young forward Tomas Hertl. Hertl had to be helped off the ice and missed a month recovering from his injury.

Brown’s hit on Hertl:

csnknee

In 2015, Brown took out another Sharks star, Logan Couture, this time with a headbutt.

On October 7th, 2015, early in a game between the Sharks and Kings, Logan Couture carried the puck through center ice. Brown, who was back on defense, suddenly stopped skating backwards and launched himself, leading with his head, into Couture’s face. Couture. Couture remained in the game and Brown was not penalized nor was he punished by the league.

Brown’s hit on Couture:

Vancouver Canucks: Mark Messier

What don’t Canucks fans hate about Mark Messier? When I say Canucks fans hate Mark Messier, they really hate Mark Messier. Lets look at why:

  • His dirty hit on Trevor Linden in Game 6 of the ’94 Stanley Cup Finals
  • He scored the game-winning goal against the Canucks in the ’94 Stanley Cup Finals

After the Canucks won Game 6 to send the series to a Game 7, it was Messier who scored the game-winning goal to make it 3-1.

Messier’s game-winning goal:

  • He underperformed as a Canuck

In the summer of ’97, a 36-year-old Messier signed a 5-year, $30 million contract with Vancouver.

Over his three seasons in Vancouver, Messier finished with 52 goals and 110 assists in 207 games. During his tenure, the Canucks never made the playoffs and only finished over .500 once in 1999-00 before he was paid to leave the team.

  • He demanded to wear #11

Upon his arrival in Vancouver, he demanded to wear the number 11 which he had worn his entire career, but the number 11 was unofficially retired by the Canucks in memory of Wayne Maki after he died in 1974.

  • Trevor Linden gave him the captaincy

Before the 1997-98 season, Canucks captain Trevor Linden relinquished his captaincy to Messier which did not go over well with Canucks fans.

  • Had to be paid the Canucks after he left

Due to a clause in his contract, after he left the Canucks, Messier was entitled to a portion of the franchise’s profit if the franchise increased in value during his contract.

Winnipeg Jets: Corey Perry

Corey Perry is just unlikable, his dirty playing style, just like Kings and Stars fans, has rubbed Winnipeg’s fans the wrong way. Not to mention, Perry has had a lot of success against the Jets, scoring 13 goals in 19 games between the Ducks and Jets.

Winnipeg fans chant “Katy Perry”:

On January 21st, 2014, in the dying seconds of a 3-2 Jets wins, the Ducks went offsides. Even after all the other players stopped skating, Perry took the shot on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec anyway.

Corey Perry shoots after the whistle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IRFI-jT6bo

Dean is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan (note the Carson Wentz photoshop) and an aspiring sportswriter. He is a student at Millersville University where he is studying sports journalism. The primary way of contacting Dean is at this email: deansnock@gnghockey.com.