Sometimes famous people are jerks. There are thousands of stories of stars everywhere, be it actors, singers, or athletes, who donate their money, time, and other resources to those in need or who just have huge hearts. There are equally as many who would scoff at the idea, thinking of non-famous people as being lower than them. North American professional sports have their fair share of these types of athletes. They put themselves first, not thinking about the consequences for their teams or fans. There are notorious jerks in each pro league: the NBA has Kevin Garnett, the NFL has Terrell Owens, and MLB has Pete Rose. The following list will count down 15 of the top jerks, past and present, that the NHL has to offer. Be it extramarital affairs, assault charges, loud-mouthing teammates and fans, or purposefully injuring other players, each player on the list has done something incredibly distasteful over the course of their career.
15 Ryan Kesler
Kesler is undoubtedly one of the top five most hated men in today’s NHL. The centreman knows all the right ways to get under the skin of his opponents, their fans, the media, and sometimes even his own teammates. Kesler has a reputation as a slimy guy, specifically because of his time in Vancouver.
There are numerous stories of fans who met him at bars or around the city and he would be incredibly rude, cocky, and even try to steal some guys’ girlfriends with cheesy lines about his abs. Another rumour, albeit a completely unproven one, is that the Michigan native fooled around with ex-teammate Cory Schneider’s wife at one point. Kesler is a s**t disturber both off the ice and on it, and deserves his reputation as one of the most loathsome men in the NHL.
14 Brendan Shanahan
Shanahan has done God’s work transforming the once-lowly Toronto Maple Leafs into a young-gun factory. Fans can see that he is a very serious man and is often very blunt to the media. While this is viewed by some as him being a jerk, there is no question that his actions in the mid-'90s constitute his spot on this list.
In the early-1990s, Shanahan played on a line with Craig Janney as teammates on the St. Louis Blues. A year or two down the line, it was revealed that “Shanny” was sleeping with Mrs. Janney on the sly. Craig and his wife Catherine divorced and she ended up staying with Shanahan, marrying him and even having three children with him. The whole ordeal led to Shanahan being traded from the Blues to ease tensions in the dressing room. In short, with one selfish action, Shanahan split up a marriage and a hockey team. What a jerk!
13 Tie Domi
Tie Domi was one of the most beloved Maple Leafs of the 2000s. The diminutive scrapper wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves with anyone at a time when the NHL was full of no-skill goons. The Canadian winger managed a paltry 245 points in 1,020 games to compliment his 3,515 career penalty minutes. While there are lots of stories of NHL enforcers actually being loveable guys (such as John Scott), Domi does not fit into that category.
He was suspended on a number of occasions for cheap shots, such as a behind-the-play elbow that concussed Scott Niedermayer and a sucker punch that left Ulf Samuelsson unconscious. Domi was also unfaithful to his wife, allegedly cheating on her with a politician, which led to their divorce. More recently, in 2012, the 47-year-old stole a Swedish coach’s camera which was recording a Canadian team’s practice (which is perfectly legal) and when confronted, he gave the camera back with no battery. Tie Domi is just as much of a meathead off the ice as he was on it.
12 Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel is mostly known for his run with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the five years he was with the club. Kessel was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015 and in the 2015-16 season, as well as the 2016-17 season, Kessel was part of two Stanley Cup Championship wins with the Penguins squad. In his two seasons with Pittsburgh, he posted 129 points in 164 games but he has been known to make many questionable decisions on and off the ice.
Kessel has been known to be a cancer in the dressing room. He was lazy and a poor example as a veteran Leafs player when he was with the organization. Being the selfish and out-of-shape player he was and still producing fairly strong numbers, he set poor examples for the younger fans who looked up to this star sniper. There have also been numerous times when Kessel was snappy to the media. On the ice, he is notoriously known as a whiner and a diver, which are both not attributes that the NHL is proud of.
11 Mike Comrie
Mike Comrie is probably more famous for marrying actress and singer Hilary Duff than he is for his hockey career. However, he did have a respectable run. Over ten NHL seasons, the Edmontonian recorded 365 points in 589 games before being forced to retire following hip surgery in 2012. Comrie has had his fair share of controversy both during his career and after it.
While most of the allegations against him have never been proven, there is no reason why they would be made up, and therefore Comrie lands on our list of jerks. Firstly, in 2003 while playing with his hometown Oilers, Comrie allegedly slept with goaltender Tommy Salo’s wife while the Swede was away from the team. Second, his former wife, Hilary Duff, filed for divorce from him in 2015, meaning that he was likely not a great husband or father to the couple’s child, Luca. Finally, Comrie has recently been accused of sexual assault. Although the evidence does not seem to be enough to convict the 36-year-old, the story of what he may have done is absolutely treacherous, but the case will unfortunately be dismissed.
10 Aaron Ward
Aaron Ward is a former NHL defender who is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion. Ward was seen as a solid defender who played on the top defensive pairing with the Boston Bruins. During his 13 seasons, he had pretty underwhelming statistics, posting only 151 points in 839 games. Alongside this, he was said to have problems with teammates as well as problems outside of hockey.
After winning a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 season, Ward became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the New York Rangers. It was rumoured that Ward and the Rangers’ captain, Jaromir Jagr, had an argument on the bench that was caught on camera. Ward only lasted a year before being traded to the Bruins. In 2010, Ward became an analyst for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During this time, a question about Jagr’s game-play one night arose, and the answer given by Ward was clearly aimed at making Jagr look bad, showing Ward’s personal grudges are more important to him than professionalism. Most recently, in 2015, Ward was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors. One was assault on a female, believed to be his wife Kelly. Although these chargers were dismissed in 2016, it is likely it could have happened, making him a prime candidate for this list.
9 Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin has indeed blossomed into one of the top young snipers in the league. He has posted 427 points in 508 games, and in the most recent NHL season, led his fellow Dallas Stars teammates in points. Although his performance on the ice is notable, he has been known to be quite the party animal off of it.
Especially in his young age, but even leading up to now, Seguin has been publicly exposed as an immature, hard-partying womanizer. His partying habits could even be one of the reasons he was traded from Boston to Dallas in a blockbuster 2013 deal. One simple Google search of “Tyler Seguin Partying” will turn up dozens of photos that will make you immediately realize why he belongs on this list.
8 Slava Voynov
Slava Voynov is a 27-year-old player who had an impressive rookie season with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12. This defender was a solid player who posted respectable plus-minuses every season with the organization. Although he had a fairly promising career as a defender with the Kings, his personal life proved the type of person he was.
In 2014, Voynov was suspended indefinitely pending an investigation by the NHL after being arrested on misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Voynov plead not guilty to the charges he was faced with. It was said that he was accused of choking, kicking, and punching his wife, Marta Varlamova. In 2015, Voynov had a reduced charge sentencing him to 90 days in jail and three years probation alongside needing to attend counseling. For the behavior he exhibited towards his wife he’s lucky that they only sentenced him to 90 days as opposed to nine years. He was taken in by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and made the decision to return to his native Russia, where he now plays in the KHL.
7 Eric Lindros
Eric Lindros’ Hall of Fame career was cut painfully short due to concussion problems. The superstar centreman played just 760 career games, but managed to put up an impressive 865 points over that span. However, he became one of the most hated men in the history of French-Canadian sports before his NHL career even began.
The London, Ontario native was selected first overall in the 1991 Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques. Upon his selection, he refused to even put on the Nordiques jersey for photos and eventually held out for over a year on signing his entry-level deal with them. This was because of the team’s lack of a winning culture, their distance from his hometown, and the fact that he didn’t want to have to learn French. He was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a multitude of players, picks, and cash, but the blatant refusal to play for Quebec made Lindros look like an absolute jerk. Imagine if Auston Matthews had refused to play for the Maple Leafs because they were a Canadian team...riots would have ensued!
6 Alexei Yashin
Alexei Yashin was seen as the Ottawa Senators’ brightest young star, scoring 79 points in his rookie season. In his time with the NHL, he was a fairly good player when he wanted to be. Unfortunately, he was viewed as quite a lazy jerk after being a two-time captain for two NHL teams, the Sens and the New York Islanders.
When he was with the Sens, the organization had a new player who signed one of the largest rookie contracts in history and let’s just say Yashin did not like this. He refused to honour his contract for the 1995-96 season, unless the terms were renegotiated to make him the team's highest paid player. Off-the-ice life in Ottawa was quite awful as well. Yashin pledged to give a million dollars to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to produce the 1998-99 season program. He made a condition that for this donation they needed to pay his parents $425K in consulting fees. The centre denied the donation and this incident further hindered his relationship with the Ottawa public. Simply put, his whiny personality and selfish nature are the main reasons he has been placed on this list of jerks.
5 Patrick Kane
If you are even a casual hockey fan, Patrick Kane’s image may have come into your head when you read the title of this article. The uber-talented winger has been the subject of a few criminal investigations and is known for being a cocky, hard-partying jerk in his free time.
The first big issue came in August of 2009. Kane was just 20 at the time and he and his cousin were arrested and charged with assaulting a Buffalo-area cab driver, leaving him with a broken nose, glasses, and ripped clothes. Then, after he had said that the process helped him to “mature,” a video surfaced of him online in 2012 partying. He was wasted and acting like a jerk, even passing out at a bar. Finally, Kane was then accused in a sexual assault case. The news of the incident took up headlines across the hockey world for quite some time before he was eventually acquitted. Now 28, Kane has hopefully grown up, but it is sad that one of the most talented wingers in the NHL has his reputation tarnished by his numerous off-ice incidents.
4 Steve Downie
Steve Downie’s jerk-like behaviour began before even entering the NHL. He was drafted 29th overall in the league’s entry draft in 2005 to the Philadelphia Flyers, who obviously had high hopes for the hard-working winger.
Not long after being drafted to the NHL, Downie was suspended for an on-ice altercation with one of his teammates. Downie cross-checked him in the face without warning, knocking out three of his teeth, and then proceeded to fight him. This altercation occurred because the young player refused to take part in a hazing incident lead by the veteran, Downie. Once Downie entered the NHL, his behaviour did not change. In his first full NHL season, the Ontarian was involved in an incident where he checked a player into the boards while both feet were off the ice. Due to the extent of the victim's injuries, Downie was suspended for 20 games. After this incident, the rest of his career was based around pitiful behaviour both towards officials and players which lead to his spot on this list as a total jerk.
3 Evander Kane
Evander Kane is near the top of this list for a reason. The 25-year-old has proven that, when focused, he can produce at a solid pace, putting up 300 points in his 496-game career. Despite this, he has constantly been the target of headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Kane, like a number of other on this list, has let his stardom get to him. He parties like an immature kid and apparently can’t control himself when it comes to the ladies. The Vancouver native has racked up a number of assaults, sexual assault, and criminal trespassing charges during his career. He is known as a locker room cancer and was likely traded from the Jets to the Sabres because of that fact. Kane’s cockiness is summed up in one image, posted to the left winger’s Twitter account in 2012, in which he can be seen holding one stack of money up to his ear like a phone and looking at another stack in his hand, all while standing on a balcony overlooking the Las Vegas strip. This was posted shortly after Kane had been the target of tabloids detailing his attitude issues. Seems like a really good way to silence the critics!
2 Sean Avery
Sean Avery is a former NHL left winger who is notoriously known for his controversial behaviour on and off the ice. Avery was seen as a goon who did not have much respect for the game. He produced an astonishing 1,533 penalty minutes in his 580-game career, telling of the type of player he was.
During his time in the NHL he had no filter - whatever he thought, he said. The first controversial incident was when ‘The Avery Rule’ was created by the NHL. This is when such persons would receive a minor penalty if they used the screening tactic that Avery used against Martin Brodeur in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. After winning the series, Brodeur refused to shake Avery’s hand and when Avery was asked about it, he said “Fatso forgot to shake my hand.” The next outrageous public remark he made was the "sloppy seconds" comment. He said “I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that’s about, but enjoy the game tonight.” This was another comment that showed he had absolutely no filter or class, creating a bad rep for himself. Each incident shows his goon-like behaviour, indicating he has no respect for the game, and making people in the NHL as well as fans think of him as a total jerk.
1 Jeremy Roenick
Roenick was one of the best centremen of his time and has become a regular analyst on NBC Sports. The former Shark, King, Flyer, Coyote, and Blackhawk posted 1,216 points in 1,363 career NHL games, making him one of the most consistent scorers in league history. However, Roenick is known as a brash, self-loving man, which has become more and more evident over the years.
If “J.R.” has an opinion on something (and you better bet he does) you will likely hear it, presented in a bullish and often controversial way. The Bostonian’s twitter account is a very interesting place, and his tweets make it hard to believe that any TV network would want to be associated with him. One of Roenick’s most public displays of idiocy came during the 2004-05 lockout. Roenick was just one of many players complaining about the length of the lockout and the terms that were being fought over between the NHL and NHLPA. Fans thought that Roenick, who at that time had accumulated over $46M in career earnings, was being a bit ridiculous for complaining about the play stoppage and subsequent salary freeze. They labelled him a “spoiled whiner” and he shot back, telling them to “kiss my ass.” Jeremy Roenick’s picture should be in the dictionary next to the word “jerk.”