There are plenty of professional hockey players that are not only tremendous players but tremendous people. As well as being clean players on the ice, half of the individuals on our list have done all they can to help make the community around them better and stronger. Many have reached out to work with children who suffer from disabilities and use their financial success to help make a difference that will last much longer than their NHL career. Their reputation of being a “sweetheart” is something that they should absolutely hold close to their heart.
That isn’t the case for everyone that laces up a pair of skates. Many players in the NHL could be considered “heels” if they were thrown into the WWE. Dirty hits, after the whistle scuffles and problems off the ice are just some of the pitfalls that help make it apparent who the 8 biggest jerks are in the NHL. Included are the players voted on by both the fans and players as the dirtiest in the league. While several of our players are still active in the league, we did do some digging to track down some of the biggest contributors on both sides of the puck from across the history of hockey.
These are the 8 NHL Players Who Are Jerks (And 7 Who Are Sweethearts).
15. Jerk: Raffi Torres
When Raffi Torres finally announced his retirement from hockey in 2016, we’re sure there were many people who were wishing he had announced it years prior. Especially considering the end of his career was defined by the multiple game suspensions he received from the league.
This includes him having the distinction of having the longest ever suspension – at 41 games – after his illegal hit on Jakob Silfverberg back in October 2015. The length of Torres’ career (which started as a 5th overall pick in 2000) should prove he obviously had some value as a player, but any team that had him knew it may have only been a matter of time before he had stepped out of line.
14. Sweetheart: Tyler Seguin
Many stars on our list have been touched by tragedy in their own lives and it has caused them to want to give back. This is the case for Tyler Seguin who saw one of his best friends become a quadriplegic at a young age.
Seguin has since started “Seguin’s Stars”, an organization which brings wheelchair bound individuals to a Dallas Stars game where they sit in a luxury suite, get the chance to meet Tyler and at times other players, and in the process get a life-changing experience. Seguin also works actively with the Boys and Girls Club of Dallas as well as the After School All Stars of Dallas.
13. Jerk: Brad Marchand
As a fan of the Vancouver Canucks (who also just happens to live in Vancouver), I have a particular disdain for how the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs ended. It was bad enough to lose, much less to the Bruins. Then to see the city destroy itself was also far from ideal. But perhaps the worst of it all was seeing the arrogant Brad Marchand “skate off into the sunset” and enjoy his summer.
Marchand hasn’t just earned his scorn from Vancouver fans. When the Canadian newspaper “The National Post” asked fans in March 2016 who they felt was the dirtiest player in the league – Marchand came in at #1. Unfortunately for fans, Marchand’s talent on the ice means he probably isn’t going away anytime soon.
12. Sweetheart: Brent Burns
Brent Burns may be known for his fantastic ability to grow a beard. But as big as his beard can get, his heart may be even bigger. Burns’ constant contributions to his community have allowed him to be the recipient of the NHL Foundation Award – which he was given in 2015.
Burns’ big beard has also worked its way into charitable efforts, including raising tens of thousands of dollars through shaving it off at events like the one we have pictured for you above. There aren’t many more people in the league that you should have more respect for than Burns and it was tremendous to see his 2016-2017 season get capped off with the James Norris Memorial Trophy to add to his collection.
11. Jerk: Zac Rinaldo
While the fans may think Zac Rinaldo’s former teammate is the dirtiest player in the league, that was not the consensus of the players themselves. When asked back in March 2016, 25% of the players came back with the answer of Zac Rinaldo.
The results probably didn’t upset him too much, especially when you consider he was also awarded that dubious honour the previous year as well. Let’s hope the fact that Rinaldo is playing for Arizona this year will cause him to re-think his game. But considering his recent time in the AHL saw him get served with a suspension for intent to injure, we wouldn’t count on it.
10. Sweetheart: Erik Karlsson
It’s hard not to love Erik Karlsson. On top of being one of the most talented players in the league, his hair game is always on point. Karlsson isn’t a single man, however, as he tied the knot with his long-term girlfriend Melinda Currey this past summer. We should be jealous of him, but there’s also plenty of reasons to admire him.
But Karlsson did something even more important this summer. Karlsson took to Instagram to promote Lonely Whale, a company that seeks to help promote educational awareness in regards to the world’s oceans. Part of their cause is to try and get people to stop using plastic straws, something Karlsson was happy to support in a tongue-in-cheek online campaign recently.
9. Jerk: Matt Cooke
Matt Cooke bounced around on a variety of teams throughout his NHL career. But wherever Cooke was lacing them up, he was sure to earn the scorn of the players on the opposing bench. Not to mention the fact that it didn’t seem to take long into any game before Cooke started doing some antics that seemed like they were crossing the line.
There’s an aggressive hockey player and then there’s a dangerous one, and it’s hard to argue that Cooke didn’t fall into the latter. Putting the health of your fellow professionals at risk with your play is unacceptable and something that the NHL has also documented through numerous suspensions. The league is much safer with Cooke out of it.
8. Sweetheart: Daniel And Henrik Sedin
When it comes to our next entry we have not one, but two people. Though to be fair, could you imagine how awkward it would be if Daniel was super generous with his money and Henrik was all stuck up and greedy? Talk about opposites!
But thankfully for the people of Vancouver, the Sedin twins have been incredibly generous and grateful over the years for the opportunity the city gave them. This includes donating money to the local hospital, as well as opening up their own foundation – aptly named the Sedin Family Foundation. Among their projects are Clubhouse 36 which is an out-of-school program which seeks to make individuals grow up to be confident and healthy.
7. Jerk: Bob Probert
Bob Probert is a great example of someone who loved to embrace the physical side of hockey. But his love of throwing down on the ice wasn’t what landed him a spot on this list. Probert had several incidents off the ice that were far from clean. This includes a moment where he was confronted for breach of peace, which led to him resisting arrest and getting into a confrontation that included him assaulting a police officer. Probert also struggled with a substance abuse problem at times, including once admitting to snorting a narcotic that he had dumped into a toilet. On perhaps a lighter note, Probert did make an appearance in the comedy The Love Guru.
6. Sweetheart: Patrice Bergeron
There aren’t many teams in the NHL that rub me the wrong way more than the Boston Bruins. But while their agitators earn a spot on our list, so too does the hard-working centre Patrice Bergeron.
Since 2006, Patrice Bergeron has met hundreds of children that have been given the opportunity to see a Bruins game in a luxury suite and then meet with the Bruins’ star. The program, titled “Patrice’s Pals” has helped work with some of the biggest charities and organizations in the Boston area. Bergeron took home the NHL Foundation Award for his contributions at the end of the 2013-2014 season.
5. Jerk: Radko Gudas
It’s clear that the Philadelphia Flyers don’t mind the physical play that Radko Gudas brings to their blue-line, having signed him to a 4-year contract in June 2016. But both fans and players may very much mind as both groups stated he was one of the dirtiest players in the league when asked in March 2016.
His most infamous hit may have been when he crunched the head of Mika Zibanejad back in December 2015 which we’re sure was still in the mind of voters. Gudas received a 3 game suspension. It wasn’t the last time, as Gudas also was given 6 games in 2016 for targeting the head of Austin Czarnik during a preseason game. We’re sure if Gudas steps out of line again that the league won’t be afraid to drop the hammer.
4. Sweetheart: Theo Fleury
If we wanted to be fair, Theo Fleury could probably land himself on both sides of this list. Fleury has a well-documented past of partying and blowing stacks of cash on things that only ended up bringing more pain than pleasure to his life. But while that may be looked down upon, we have to give Fleury a tremendous amount of credit for being able to turn his life around as well as for his willingness to document his story, as he did with his book Playing with Fire. While not an excuse, Fleury was also sexually assaulted as a youth by his coach and his ability to push through those tough experiences should also be commended. Fleury also annually hosts a hockey camp to help inspire youth players. It’s rare we see a player turn it around, and we’re glad Theo Fleury has.
3. Jerk: Corey Perry
There isn’t much argument that can be made that against Corey Perry’s skill as a hockey player. There aren’t many players who are more talented, but there also aren’t too many players in the league that get under people’s skin like Perry. Perhaps that’s part of his game, but if it is, it doesn’t discredit people’s opinion of him.
But when you consider Perry has several incidents of plays that some would consider dirty and always seems to be in that post-whistle scuffle, you can understand why there may not be much argument to be made as to why he doesn’t deserve a spot on this list. He is also notorious for pulling stunts to get under opponent’s skin, from stealing sticks to spraying water at them. Let’s hope the rest of his playing career isn’t going to be a mixed bag of amazing plays and ones that make you shake your head in anger.
2. Sweetheart: Kelly Chase
Kelly Chase might not be the most accomplished player on our list, but his contributions to the world make him impossible to overlook. It’s Kelly Chase who helped bring together the Gateway Special Hockey Program which helps developmentally disabled individuals participate in organized hockey, which lead to him receiving the King Clancy Memorial Award in 1998.
Started in the 1990s, the program has continued to grow including the St. Louis Blues (whom Chase played for) allowing the players to utilize the arena for at least one special day of the year – which will also often include thousands of fans to cheer along. The NHL made sure to immortalize his contributions to the game of hockey by creating the NHL Foundation Award in his honour.
1. Jerk: Mike Danton
There are several people on our list who are jerks but that behaviour mostly refers to how they’ve acted on the ice. For Mike Danton however, who played from 2000-2004, it’s his off-ice actions that made him a perfect fit for a list like this.
Danton was arrested in 2004 after attempting to hire a hitman to “take out” his agent. While his original sentence was 7 and a half years, he did manage to get parole in 2009. That probably doesn’t make you feel too much better about Danton though! It’s hard to say he would have been found innocent, but it was later revealed that Danton’s lawyer had never actually graduated law school. At least he has stayed away from the spotlight since the incident.
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