How Players Became Despised around the NHL: Eastern 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?”

Read the Western Conference Edition here



Boston Bruins: Alexandre Burrows

After Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bruins fans had someone new to hate. Alexandre Burrows. In Game 1, during a scrum, Burrows established himself as an enemy after not being punished for biting the finger of Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron.burrows

The next game, the hate of Burrows grew larger after Burrows scored the OT game-winner in a game Bruins fans believed he shouldn’t have been playing in.

With a 2-0 Vancouver lead in the series, Burrows continued his villainous role in Game 3. Late in the third period, Burrows got into it with Bruins’ Milan Lucic, after a few swings at each other, Lucic stuck his bare hand in Burrows’ face, asking Burrows to bite him.
The Bruins would go on to blast the Canucks, 8-1.

With the Bruins up 4-0 in the final minutes of Game 4, Burrows slashed Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas’ stick out of his hand. After Thomas picked up his stick, he gave Burrows a hard slash which started a scrum between the two.

Buffalo Sabres: Milan Lucic

Formerly of the Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic became despised by Sabres fans and much of the Atlantic Division. Since his career started in 2007, Lucic has become known as a dirty player. Between spearing Pavel Datsyuk and many other incidents, there is one play that Sabres fans will always come to mind when Lucic’s name arises. On November 12, 2011, Milan Lucic found himself in the bad graces of Sabres fans everywhere when, on a breakaway, Lucic lost control of the puck. Seeing the opportunity, former Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller skated out to play the puck away from Lucic. Lucic made no effort to avoid Miller and seemed to deliberately cross-check him. Lucic was penalized two minutes for charging.

Carolina Hurricanes: Brooks Orpik

A relatively clean player during his long NHL career, but a few of his dangerous hits came against Carolina.

March 4th, 2006; Hurricanes forward Erik Cole breaks in to the Pittsburgh end, stops at the edge of the circle, facing towards the boards when Penguins defenseman hits Cole from behind, driving Cole’s head into the boards. Cole suffered a compression fracture in his neck. Orpik was penalized with a boarding major and a game misconduct. After the game, Orpik was served a 3-game suspension for his extremely dangerous hit.

Six years later, Orpik took out another young Carolina forward. This time, Jeff Skinner. While this hit looks clean, when you hurt a player as talented as Skinner, fans aren’t going to like it. Especially when Orpik’s hit gave Skinner his second concussion of the year.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter’s 39 games with Columbus didn’t go well. After coming to Columbus in a trade that sent Jakub Voracek to Philadelphia in the 2011 offseason, Carter’s short tenure in Columbus was riddled with issues.

In his last three seasons in Philadelphia, Carter posted 46, 33, and 36 goals, and looked on his way to becoming one of the league’s premier goal-scorers. While, there is no arguing Carter is a supreme talent, you can make an argument that his effort isn’t always there.

During his time in Columbus, Carter reportedly missed multiple practices and seemed to make it clear to fans that he didn’t want to be there. Posting 15 goals and 10 assists for Columbus, Carter was traded to the Los Angeles Kings mid-season for Jack Johnson and a first round pick.

Carter’s sub-standard output, lack of effort, and that Columbus dealt Jakub Voracek to acquire Carter all add up to Carter being booed every time he steps on the ice at Nationwide Arena.

Detroit Red Wings: Claude Lemieux & Shea Weber

Claude Lemieux

One of the greatest agitators and one of the dirtiest players in NHL history, Claude Lemieux was a driving force behind the fierce rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche in the 1990s.

In Game 3 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals, a scrum behind the net gave Lemieux the opportunity to sucker punch Red Wings Vyacheslav Kozlov. But the shot that started the war between Detroit and Colorado happened in Game 6. At 14:07 of the first period, Detroit’s Kris Draper was skating backwards along the boards next to the benches when Lemieux hit him from behind, sending Draper’s face into the top of the boards. Draper suffered a broken jaw, and a broken orbital bone, which required surgery and having his jaw wired shut for eight weeks. Lemieux was given a game misconduct for the hit.

The hit on Draper spawned a long feud between Lemieux and Draper’s teammate Darren McCarty as well as the infamous 1997 Avalanche-Red Wings Brawl.

Shea Weber

April 11th, 2012; in the dying seconds of Game 1 of the first round series between Detroit and Nashville with Nashville up 3-2, Predators center Paul Gaustad won the defensive zone faceoff back to Shea Weber. With Detroit desperate to get possession, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg went in on the forecheck, pinning Weber to the wall. As the clock turned to zero, Weber reached around Zetterberg’s head and smashed it into the glass. Luckily, Zetterberg was not injured and played in Game 2. Weber was fined, but not suspended for the play.

To make things worse, Weber and teammate Andrei Kostitsyn joked about Weber’s smash of Zetterberg’s head during their next practice.

weber smash

Florida Panthers: Brad Marchand

With 39 goals this season, Marchand showed he is one of the league’s best goal-scorers. However, while talented, Marchand chooses to also be one of the league’s dirtiest players which has earned him hatred from around the league, especially within the Atlantic Division.

So what makes Panthers fans hate Marchand?

First, Marchand has enjoyed tremendous success against Florida, putting up 16 goals (5 game-winning goals) and 11 assists in 29 games.

Second, plays like this…

On October 30th, 2015, in the final minutes of a 3-1 Boston win, Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov skated toward the bench and kept the puck in the offensive zone as the Panthers tried to get back into the game. With Kulikov facing the boards, Marchand shoved Kuilkov, sending him face-first into the boards. Kulikov’s nose was broken, but he did not miss any time. Marchand was served a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct but avoided any punishment from the league.

Montreal Canadiens: Zdeno Chara

On March 8th, 2011, after Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty chipped the puck past Chara and skated after it. With Pacioretty clearly not in control of the puck, Chara angled him over the boards and face-first into the stanchion. Pacioretty dropped to the ice and had to be stretchered off the ice. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion and a broken vertebrae.

While not as notable as his hit on Pacioretty, Chara, as a member of the Ottawa Senators  in 2005, took on Senators’ Ivanans to the ice during a fight and while being pried apart by referees, Chara stood up and uppercut a still-down Ivanans.

New Jersey Devils: Sean Avery

Possibly the greatest agitator in NHL history, Sean Avery became hated by Devils fans during his feud with Martin Brodeur. The most notable incident occurring in the 2008 playoffs. In Game 3, with the Rangers on a 5-on-3 power play, Avery parked himself in front of Brodeur with his back to the play. Avery made no attempt to be a part of the powerplay as he just looked to screen Broduer. After the puck was cleared by New Jersey, the Rangers came back and it was Avery who put the puck past Brodeur to give New York the 2-1 lead.

Before Avery’s screen on Brodeur, a previous incident between the two occured when Avery slid into Brodeur and the two exchanged blows.

After New York defeated New Jersey, winning four games to one, Brodeur refused to shake Avery’s hand during the traditional team handshakes. Avery was interviewed shortly after…

New York Islanders: Dale Hunter

April 28th, 1993; the Islanders were dominating the Capitals in Game 6 when Hunter received a pass and immediately turned it over to Islanders forward Pierre Turgeon who scored to give the Islanders a 5-1 lead late in the third.

While Turgeon was celebrating along the boards, Hunter skated over and leveled him into the boards. Turgeon suffered a separated shoulder and missed all but one game as the Islanders made it to the Conference Final before falling 4-1 to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions Montreal Canadiens. Hunter was suspended for the first 21 games of the ’93-94 season, the longest suspension in NHL history at the time.

New York Rangers: Denis Potvin & Sidney Crosby

Denis Potvin

The origin of the infamous Rangers “Potvin Sucks” chant dates back to 1979. On February 25th, 1979, the Rangers were looking the part of a contender and young Rangers forward Ulf Nilsson was becoming an offensive force until Denis Potvin shattered Nilsson’s ankle on a huge check in the corner. Nilsson was lost for the season and was never the same player again.

Sidney Crosby

The hatred for Sidney Crosby is much more recent.

Since entering the league in 2005, Crosby has established himself as the best player in the world as well as on of the most despised players outside of Pittsburgh. You could just say it’s jealousy, but Crosby isn’t exactly a clean player.

As a player of his stature, Crosby definitely seems to get away with a lot more than an average NHL player. For example, on November 29th, 2010, in the first period of a game between New York and Pittsburgh, Crosby and Ryan Callahan became entangled until Crosby broke out by slew-footing Callahan.  No penalty was called on Crosby but somehow Callahan got two minutes for interference.

In his earlier years, Crosby also had a bit of a diving problem.

On March 4th, 2010, while chasing after the puck behind the net, Marc Staal checked Crosby and Crosby went down hard. Staal was called for interference which angered Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who looked to tell Crosby to “quit diving”. Crosby responded by cross-checking Lundqvist which spawned brawl behind the net with Crosby in the middle of it all.

Ottawa Senators: Matt Cooke

Matt Cooke, one of the greatest agitators of this decade, has had a big impact on the career of arguably the league’s best defenseman in Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson.

In a game between Ottawa and Pittsburgh during Karlsson’s sophomore season, Karlsson skated over to the boards to chip the puck out of the Ottawa zone when he was first met by Max Talbot on a clean hit. After the hit by Talbot, Matt Cooke laid a late hit on Karlsson, sending Karlsson face-first into the boards and the down onto the ice. Cooke was given two minutes for boarding.

On February 13th, 2013 at the end of the second period, Karlsson retreated into the Ottawa zone to retrieve the puck in the corner with Matt Cooke in pursuit. Karlsson and the Cooke met along the boards with Cooke’s left skate coming off the ice and cutting Karlsson on the ankle, lacerating his Achilles and ending his season. While it is almost impossible to tell if it was intended, Ottawa fans definitely were not happy with losing their best  player for almost two and a half months.

Philadelphia Flyers: Scott Stevens & Sidney Crosby

Scott Stevens

You can’t talk about Eric Lindros without remembering the bitter end to his career in Philadelphia at the hands (or shoulder) of Scott Stevens.

In Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals between Philadelphia and New Jersey, Eric Lindros skated through the neutral zone with his head down. Lindros had formed a bad habit where he skated with his head down and Scott Stevens was known for punishing players who did so. So when Lindros crossed the blue line, Stevens rotated from his left defenseman position and caught Lindros in the jaw with his shoulder. Lindros, who had returned to the Flyers lineup in Game 6 after sitting out with a concussion, was diagnosed with his sixth concussion as a Flyer and his fourth in five months. Lindros never played for the Flyers again.

Sidney Crosby

This one is obvious.

Call it recency bias, but Flyers fans have hated Crosby for over a decade. Crosby has put up a ridiculous 36 goals and 48 assists in 59 games against Philadelphia, all the while, keeping up his subtly dirty style of play. It’s no secret that Crosby doesn’t like the Flyers and vice versa and it showed during the Flyers-Penguins 2012 first round series.

In a testy Game 3, after the whistle, Crosby poked away Jake Voracek’s glove as he tried to pick it up which spawned multiple fights between the teams.

Later in the same game, with the Flyers up 7-4, Crosby’s actions sent Flyers broadcaster Chris Therien into a frenzy.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Brandon Dubinsky

Currently playing against each other in the playoffs, Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky have a long history. Now a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dubinsky previously played for the New York Rangers, where the rivalry began.

On March 4, 2010, the Penguins and Rangers met at Madison Square Garden. This incident was used before, but from the Penguins point of view, the play is interpreted differently. After being checked from behind by Marc Staal and getting into it with Lundqvist, Crosby was immediately jumped by Dubinsky.

The next season, the rivalry grew. After the first period of another Penguins-Rangers matchups, Dubinsky was interviewed about Crosby’s slew-foot on Ryan Callahan. Dubinsky claimed that Crosby was a complainer, but in doing so, seemed to be complaining himself.

The Dubinsky-Crosby rivalry was absolutely alive, but in 2015, it escalated to new heights.

On November 27th, 2015, Dubinsky now a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets took the rivalry too far. With Crosby battling Dubinsky for position in front of the net, Dubinsky cross-checked the Penguins star in the neck, sending him down to the ice. Dubinksy wasn’t finished apparently as he cross-checked him again as he was down on the ice, breaking his stick in the process.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Brad Marchand & Justin Abdelkader

Brad Marchand

I’m beginning to think people don’t like Brad Marchand.

On February 1, 2017, Marchand took down Anton Stralman with an obvious slew-foot. Marchand, who has mastered the art of the slew-foot, was not penalized or suspended as it was deemed “He was going for the puck”.

Two months later, on April 4th, 2017, Marchand was at it again. As he and Lightning’s Jake Dotchin battled for position in front of the net, Marchand spun around a speared Dotchin in the groin, sending him to the ice in a heap of pain.

Justin Abdelkader

With Detroit and Tampa Bay meeting in the first round of the playoffs in both 2015 and 2016, Tampa Bay has become well acquainted with Justin Abdelkader’s dirty style of play.

On April 15th, 2015 in the final minute of a Game 2 Tampa Bay victory, temper flared and a line brawl was underway. With his teammate tangled up with Lightning’s Andrej Sustr, Abdelkader came to his defense. As Abdelkader reached the front of the net, he was met by Cedric Paquette and Mike Blunden. He was able to get out from the bottom of the pile and started wailing on Blunden with his gloves still on.

At the end of a Game 3 Detroit victory, it was Abdelkader who was again in the middle of a late brawl. With every player paired off, Brian Boyle went after Abdelkader, trying to induce him into a fight but Abdelkader would not drop his gloves as he suffered a hand injury in the previous game.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Brad Marchand & Daniel Alfredsson

Brad Marchand

Oh look, it’s Brad Marchand again.

On November 21st, 2015, after Leo Komarov caused a turnover and made a breakout pass, Komarov was hit knee-on-knee by Marchand. While you can’t quite tell if it was intentional or not, the Maple Leafs seemed to think so as James van Reimsdyk went after Marchand.

Daniel Alfredsson

With about two minutes to play in Game 5 of their 2002 conference semi-final series, Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson and Leafs winger Darcy Tucker raced to the boards to grab the loose puck. As the two reach the boards, Alfredsson drove his shoulder into Tucker causing him to go face-first into the boards. With Tucker down on the ice, Alfredsson drifted into the slot uncovered and scored the game-winning goal, infuriating the Toronto crowd.


8 years later, Alfredsson boarded Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin which looked oddly similar to the hit on Tucker.

On March 16th, 2010 as multiple players fought for the puck along the boards, the puck popped high into the air as Alfredsson closed in on Beauchemin. As the puck came back down, Alfredsson drove his shoulder into the back of Beauchemin, sending him face-first into the dasher.

Washington Capitals: Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr, the ageless wonder, is beloved around the NHL… except in Washington, that is.

As a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jagr helped Pittsburgh dominate Washington throughout the 1990s. In 2001, Jagr left Pittsburgh and joined the Capitals. The Capitals and the 5-time Art Ross Trophy winner agreed to then the largest contract in NHL history at 7 years/$77 million.

However, his tenure in Washington was short-lived and unsuccessful. During his two full season in Washington, Jagr only led them to the playoffs once (lost in the first round). With Jagr unhappy and Washington coming to the realization that their plan to build around Jagr had failed, Washington traded him to division rival New York Rangers at the 2004 trade deadline. To unload Jagr, Washington had to eat a large amount of his contract and in return, Washington received forward Anson Carter.

After the lockout season, Jagr returned to form, scoring 123 points in his first season with New York leaving Capitals fans to wonder, “What went wrong?”.

Now, whenever Jagr returns to the Verizon Center, he is greeted with a sea of boos courtesy of Capitals fans.