Thursday, December 5, 2013
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - The Five Most Hated Players in the NHL
Is Sidney Crosby on this list? Tune in to find--no, God no, he's not on here. C'mon now.
Good morning, hockey fans! Last week we carved up the Stars' four biggest turkeys of 2013. This week, we're going to finally chuck the rancid week-old leftovers in the garbage disposal and flip the Golden Switch of Hate. Primarily because, in a game Dallas had zero business winning, this happened. (Warning: NSFW if you work in Illinois)
Yes'm, the Stars' undrafted sophomore pest Antoine Roussel is starting to make a name for himself in the rough-and-tumble Western Conference. He is the perfect example of the player hockey fans absolutely loathe: while any brainless slug can thug it up on the ice, tugging on enforcer jerseys or throwing cheap shots, it takes a certain special kind of player to piss off an entire fan base by playing on the edge all game... and then scoring the game-winning goal.
On the road.
In a game where his team was outshot 50-18.
Yes, the mythical Effective SuperPest. While Roussel still needs a few more epic anti-hero games like that to join this elite handful of professional vein-poppers, here are the five most hated (non-Crosby) players in the NHL.
#5. Steve Ott - Ott is the model of the modern professional pest. This is a guy who, yes, throws cheap shots, dives, whines to the refs, and engages in extracurricular activity after the end of every shift. But Ott takes his role on the team to a new level: this is a player who went out of his way to learn curses in a half-dozen languages, just to spread the love around a la internacionale. This is a guy who pores over opposing forwards' stat sheets, so he can get under the skin of guys whose PPG or faceoff percentages are slacking.
More importantly, Ott --like the rest of the guys on this hallowed list-- gets results. Any Tootoo or Kaleta or Scott can throw blindside hits on unsuspecting star players. But do they score? Do they kill penalties? Do they score hat tricks?
No, of course not. But Ott does. He put up 24 points in 48 games in his first year as a Sabre, and had 39 points in 74 games the year before that. All told, Ott has scored 97 goals in his career, and a whopping 16 of them have been game-winners. He's also a faceoff champ, skates like a demon escaping hell and finishes his checks. Fans love those pin-your-ears-back type players, and Steve Ott is undeniably a fan favorite in both cities he's played in. Unfortunately, he was recently made captain of the Sabres, which kindof ruins the fun and knocks him down this list. After all, "captain" is a respectable position: giving Ott the C is like putting the thief in charge of the entire dungeon raiding party.
#4. Alex Burrows - While he's not quite the massive chode he was when the Canucks were actually relevant, Burrows is that rare type of superpest that combines late hits and timely goals with being the guy that totally does not deserve his good luck. Being third fiddle on the Sedin line --while presumably "protecting" them, although reliable video evidence of that is rarer than Bigfoot balloon fetish movies-- Burrows is that guy in every 80s flick who is rich, popular, handsome and going out with the hottest 36-year-old chick in high school. The fact that his comeuppance never comes after two hours, much less 586 NHL games, just makes the hatred all the seethier.
#3. Brad Marchand - Has there ever been a more punchable face in the history of sport? That's a rhetorical question, of course: no. No, there has not. Not even in men's tennis. Marchand is the supremely irritating little punk kid in elementary school that wears a hoodie in the food court, listens to screamo on his expensive headphones and responds entirely in monosyllabic grunts when you tell him to stop smoking out on the hood of your truck. A Boston-Tough (tm) guy who skates away from the s**tstorms he starts, he fights, on average, once a year --against noted meat-fisted barbarians like Mike Ribeiro and Matt Niskanen.
What makes Marchand even more insufferable is his ridiculous 15% career shooting percentage, which has allowed him to combine bush league-level agitation with incredibly important goals at critical times. Marchand already has 16 playoff goals in just three seasons, and, combined with his deceptive ability to avoid spending time in the box (just 27 PIMS in 45 games last year, while scoring 18 goals and 5 game-winners) makes him one of the most infuriating players to watch.
#2. Corey Perry - Oh, Coreycoreycorey. What is left to be said about you, that hasn't already been said about outdoor chili festival portopotties? Perry is like that kid in elementary school whose mom, or dad, or hermaphroditic combination of both was the principal --if he ever got caught and punished for anything, you sure as hell never saw it happen. Perry is a 99th level cheap shot artist, following up every after-the-whistle hit with the same "Who, me, ref? Surely you can't be serious! That's just ketchup spraying all over the ice!" look on his smug face. He's arguably the second-best diver in the league, and regularly picks fights with pugilistic heavyweights like Pavel Datsyuk (Perry should just come out and admit that he's trying to work his way through every active Lady Byng winner before he retires), and worst of all...
He scores. A lot. He once put up 50 goals in a season, and while everyone outside of the Anaheim front office knows full well that he will never approach that lofty height again, he's still good for 30-35 goals a season, with a healthy dose of game-winners --99% of which are probably on the road, scored just minutes after he chirped the ref after running the home team's goalie. He would be the prototypical "you love to have him on your team"-type player, but since he'll never play for anyone but the Ducks, and they have no real fans, it follows logically that 100% of NHL fans hate the guy like they hate spilling scalding Wendy's coffee on their newborn son. Making it worse is that he seems to have an awesome sense of humor, and that the Ducks drafted him with Dallas' pick in the 2003 draft (hey, the juries are still out on BJ Crombeen and Vojtech Polak). But even that level of hate doesn't reach the ambrosial realms of the top peckerwood on this list...
#1. Dustin Brown - Combine all the worst traits of the guys above on this list, multiply them by the number of grains of sand on Jeremy Pivens' private beach, throw in a sprinkling of Hollywood starlet vapidness and mix it all in the most undeserved Stanley Cup bowl of all time and you'll get Dustin *%^$ing Brown. Brown's primary crimes against humanity --besides having the most punchable face west of the Pecos-- is his relentless, dogged campaign to draw tripping calls on Every. Single. Shift. He makes the Italian League soccer guys look like a forest of Ents. When any opposing player skates within ten feet of him, he drops faster than a gunshot victim on Jupiter. His dives have become so powerful that geologists warn Southern Californians to stay inside during Kings games to avoid the lethal aftershocks. He dives a lot, is what I'm saying.
And the refs, inexplicably, buy it almost every time.
Brown is like that kid in second grade with snot perpetually running down his nose who punches the first grade girls in the back of the head before running away to tell the teacher that you started it. You protest with righteous indignation, but all the teacher sees is another crying little girl and snotfaced Dustin's s**t-eating grin. You take your timeout stoically, hoping that Brown will punch another girl in the back of the head while you're under lockdown so as to prove your innocence, but Dustin is smarter than you, and spends the next hour laughing and coloring right in front of the teacher.
Damn him. May the blooddrinking parasitic worms of a thousand camel sphincters infest his tear ducts until the heat death of the universe, you think you say to yourself, just as Dustin overhears you and gets you in trouble again for saying bad words.
Beyond the whining, diving and skating away from fights, Dustin Brown has something none of the rest of these guys has: a Stanley Cup team that he "captained." Now, any moron with a working set of eyeballs can tell you straightaway that the Kings were a hopeless mess when Brown was captain, especially in the playoffs, until Mike Richards arrived.. Suddenly, Richards is there, and the Kings become one of the top possession teams in the league, whereas before that the only time you heard "LA King" and "possession" together was right before a judge handed out 700 hours of community service. Nevertheless, the Kings have chosen to pretend that Brown is still the "captain" of the Cup-winning Kings, despite all evidence to the contrary, and that means brainless imbeciles will forever associate Dustin Brown with Great Leadership. Because all of life is unrelenting cosmic horror and there is no god, you see.