The NHL is similar to every other professional sports league in many ways.
There are a number of superstars that are more talented, more famous and more beloved and hated compared to most other players across the league. We're often told that if we have a lot of haters, then it's usually a good thing in that others are jealous of what we're great at.
That definitely rings true to the NHL. Find us some of the best players in the world that don't have any enemies. Sure, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are the best players of their era, and both tend to avoid controversy on and off the ice. But people simply hate them for being too good.
But some NHL stars are hated by certain players for different reasons. Dirty hits, insults, cheap shots -- it all goes on. Here is a look at 15 NHL stars...and their number one hater.
15 Shea Weber: Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik Zetterberg is one of the classiest players in the NHL and isn't one to call out other players, but he has every right to feel some form of hatred towards Montreal Canadiens' star defenceman, Shea Weber.
In the opening round of the 2012 playoffs, Weber's Nashville Predators faced Zetterberg's Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the playoffs. In the final seconds of Game 1, Weber took Zetterberg's head and smashed him face first into the glass. Weber somehow avoided suspension and was only given a $2,500 fine.
To make matters worse for Detroit, Nashville wound up winning the series. Throw in the fierce rivalry between these teams when they were in the Central Division, and it's easy to see why Zetterberg didn't like playing against Weber.
14 Taylor Hall: Oscar Klefbom
Taylor Hall was drafted first-overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2010. He was widely expected to help the franchise turn its fortunes around, but Hall wasn't quite able to lead the Oilers out of the Western Conference basement. After years of loading up on first-overall selections, Edmonton traded Hall to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Adam Larsson last offseason.
Of course, Edmonton is in the playoffs now -- thanks in large part to the rise of Connor McDavid. Hall expressed his disappointment with the trade, and Oilers blueliner Oscar Klefbom called him out last summer.
Klefbom reportedly said that Hall "never played his best" against some of the league's toughest teams. We're guessing Klefbom and Hall didn't have a great working relationship in Edmonton, which is why the former waited a while to finally call out his old teammate.
13 P.K. Subban: Mark Stone
Back in 2013, a poll from Sports Illustrated showed that P.K. Subban was the NHL's most hated player. The Nashville Predators star defenceman hasn't done much to repair his image among his peers since, though.
A lot of players really don't like Subban -- who has gotten into multiple fights and shouting matches with different players. However, it's safe to say that Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone probably feels more distaste towards Subban than any other player.
During a 2015 playoff game between the Habs and Senators, Subban slashed Mark Stone across the wrist with his stick. Stone did finish the series, but the injury took a toll on his team. Montreal won the series and Subban avoided a suspension. Don't tell us that Stone has forgotten about the incident, because he's probably having a tough time forgetting what Subban did to him. And rightfully so.
12 Zdeno Chara: Max Pacioretty
Zdeno Chara has used his size sparingly in the NHL. At 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds, Chara is the tallest player in league history. He's always been able to bully his way through opponents, but he took it way too far on March 8th, 2011.
In that game, Chara and Max Pacioretty got tied up -- and the Bruins captain pushed the Habs star into a stanchion. Pacioretty was stretchered off and suffered a concussion and fracture to his 4th vertebra. Amazingly, Chara avoided suspension and his Bruins would go on to beat the Habs in the opening round of the playoffs.
Though Pacioretty said it was "part of the sport" (per Yahoo! Sports), the reality is his Canadiens and Chara's Bruins have a fierce rivalry. Pacioretty is a classy player, but we're sure he's not going to get over Chara almost ruining his career any time soon.
11 Milan Lucic: Ryan Miller
Milan Lucic is one of the NHL's premier power forwards, and one of the best agitators. He can score 20-30 goals a season, but Lucic is also great at finding drawing enemies with opposing players. Logan Couture and Dale Weise are among some of Lucic's enemies, but Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller seems to be his biggest hater.
Let's go back to a 2011 meeting between Miller's Buffalo Sabres and Lucic's Bruins. In this game, Miller came out to play the puck -- only for Lucic to bull him over with a pretty devastating and dirty hit.
When asked by reporters about the incident after the game, Miller called Lucic a "piece of (expletive)", and said he was "gutless". We're guessing these two aren't going to be golf buddies when they're both retired down the road.
10 Duncan Keith: Daniel Sedin
Duncan Keith has been a backbone of the Chicago Blackhawks dynasty. He's a two-time Norris Trophy winner, three-time Stanley Cup champion and has two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada. But playing at high level for all these years led Keith to forming some personal rivalries with Vancouver Canucks players over the years. None stand out more than Daniel Sedin.
The Canucks and Blackhawks met in a 2012 regular season game, with the playoffs just weeks away. Keith dished out a vicious elbow to Daniel's head, leading to a concussion:
He was given a five-game suspension, but the Canucks took the biggest punishment from the hit. Without Daniel for the first three playoff games against the Los Angeles Kings in round one, Vancouver's offence stalled completely. By the time Daniel returned, it was too late and L.A. shocked the Presidents' Trophy winners in five games.
So we'll go ahead and guess Daniel doesn't like Keith much to this day.
9 Patrice Bergeron: Alexandre Burrows
The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins met in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and the hatred between the two clubs was real. Vancouver was an undersized yet faster and more skilled team. Boston, with the likes of Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, were a bunch of goons who bullied the Canucks roster with ease.
During a scuffle between the two teams in 2011, Patrice Bergeron shoved his hand in Alexandre Burrows' direction. The Canucks forward then bit the finger of Bergeron, but was able to avoid suspension for the incident. Burrows instantly became a top enemy in Boston. Steve Buckley from the Boston Herald called the lack of suspension "an insult" to fans' intelligence.
You really have to hate a guy to bite his finger.
8 Joe Thornton: Drew Doughty
The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings naturally have a fierce rivalry. They're been in the Pacific Division together, they're both from the state of California and they're among the top teams in the Western Conference most years. So when these teams met in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs, you could sense the rivalry between these two.
San Jose appeared destined to rid themselves of their rivals, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the first round. However, the Kings rallied from the deficit and took eliminated the Sharks -- en route to their second championship in three years.
After the Kings completed the comeback, Drew Doughty took a shot at Sharks' captain and franchise star, Joe Thornton (according to the Winnipeg Free Press, via NESN.com):
“Once we won that first game of the San Jose series, we kind of had a feeling we were going to come back and win that series...and you could see it in their eyes and their team and their captains and leaders that they were worried about us coming back. So we don’t want to give these guys any life.”
Oh, and it's worth mentioning Doughty's first NHL fight came against Thornton back in 2012. These two really aren't friends, even if they won gold together for Canada in 2010.
7 Sedin Twins: Dave Bolland
As we mentioned above in the Keith slide, Vancouver and Chicago had quite a rivalry for a few years. The players kept getting into fights, as the teams met in the playoffs three years in a row from 2009-2011.
Though Daniel and Henrik Sedin are among the top scorers of this generation, Blackhawks ultra pest Dave Bolland had a knack for getting under their skins and shutting down their offensive ability. Bolland (per WGN Radio, via Sportsnet), took a classless shot at the twins:
"We’d be sure not to let them on our team. And, yeah, they probably still would be sisters. I think they might sleep in, like, bunk beds. The older one has the bottom one, the younger one’s got the top."
Canucks' head coach Alain Vigneault came to the defence of the twins, saying Bolland's "IQ is probably the size of a birdseed...And he has a face that only a mother could look at," according to Jason Botchford.
Though Bolland hasn't been on the Blackhawks in four years, we're sure he hates the Canucks twins to this day. His legacy will always be the guy who found ways to get frustrate them.
6 Evgeni Malkin: Blake Wheeler
Evgeni Malkin is a hard guy to hate. He's a two-time Stanley Cup champion, has a pair of scoring titles along with a Hart and Conn Smythe Trophy to his name. That being said, Malkin found a way to become enemies with Winnipeg Jets star Blake Wheeler. During a meeting earlier this year between the clubs, Malkin dished out a dirty headshot to Wheeler:
Malkin avoided a suspension, though the hit couldn't have been any more dirty if you ask me. Determined to get his revenge, Wheeler made it clear how much he wanted to get back at Malkin when the teams met a short few weeks later:
The Penguins won both games, but at least Wheeler made it clear how much he hated Malkin by getting revenge on him. We're sure things will be tense when the two meet from here on out.
5 Jonathan Toews: James Neal
You won't find a lot of people who hate Jonathan Toews. He's a three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada and owns a Conn Smythe Trophy. He's so big in Manitoba that there's a lake named after him. Toews has also earned a ton of respect across the league for being 'Captain Serious' -- one of the best leaders in the NHL.
But don't tell that to James Neal, a star on the Nashville Predators. These two got into a fight earlier this past season. On top of that, the Blackhawks and Predators are both powerhouses in a loaded Central Division. Toews' team eliminated Neal and the Penguins in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs.
Nashville countered by sweeping the top-seeded Blackhawks in the first round -- with Toews being held to one goal this series. We're sure that these two still have plenty of chapters left in their heated one-on-one rivalry.
4 Brad Marchand: P.K. Subban
If you read my article about 15 NHL players who hate Brad Marchand, then you won't be surprised to see why P.K. Subban is listed as Marchand's top hater here. We are talking about arguably the two most hated players in the NHL, here.
Subban and Marchand were bitter rivals when the former was on the Montreal Canadiens all those years. These two stars faced off in both the 2011 and 2014 playoffs and had to get in each others' faces as often as possible. These two men have gotten into multiple fights, and there was once an incident where Marchand speared Subban in the groin.
According to CBS Boston, Marchand also told the media just how much he doesn't like Subban:
“Subban was asking me to fight. Three or four guys asked to fight him, and he’s running scared from Horty. But he comes after the smallest guy on the team. It just shows you what kind of character they have there.”
The main downside of Subban being traded to Nashville was that we won't get to see him and Marchand go at it more than twice a season now.
3 Alexander Ovechkin: Evgeni Malkin
Many consider Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby to be the best one-on-one rivalry in the NHL. For one, they're both former first-overall picks who turned long-time losers into Eastern Conference powerhouses. Both have scoring titles and Rocket Richard Trophies to their names. Crosby and Ovechkin have also faced off twice in the postseason -- with the Pens winning both series en route to Stanley Cup victories.
However, Crosby and Ovechkin have downplayed the rivalry -- but it's Crosby's teammate, Evgeni Malkin -- who has the ultra hatred towards Ovechkin.
Reports indicate that the two were once close friends, but an incident in 2007 ruined the relationship between both Russian stars. In the 2007 offseason, Ovechkin allegedly punched Malkin's agent at a nightclub in Moscow. Ovechkin also tried to deliver an ugly hit on Malkin during a 2008 game -- but 'Geno' got out of the way. Neither party made eye contact with the other during the NHL Awards ceremony, either.
Don't expect these guys to rekindle their relationship any time soon.
2 Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning
Connor McDavid is on his way to becoming the best player in the NHL, but he's already starting to learn that veteran players will do anything possible to get under his skin. Through his first two regular seasons, nobody has done it more than Philadelphia Flyers tough guy, Brandon Manning.
When Edmonton and Philadelphia faced off early in McDavid's 2015-16 rookie season, Manning crashed into the boards as he got tangled up with Manning. McDavid broke his collarbone and missed 37 games. McDavid accused Manning of doing it intentionally and called him "classless". When the teams met earlier this season, McDavid scored and began to trash talk the whole Flyers.
Even if Manning didn't do it on purpose, we're sure he didn't appreciate McDavid taking savage shots at him like that.
1 Sidney Crosby: Brandon Dubinsky
Brandon Dubinsky played for the New York Rangers from 2006-07 to 2011-12, as the Blueshirts and Pittsburgh Penguins were developing a strong rivalry in the Atlantic Division. Naturally, the two teams didn't like each other one bit, but Dubinsky's rivalry with Sidney Crosby has gone off the charts since he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2012 offseason.
Dubinsky's Blue Jackets faced the Penguins in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs, but Crosby's Pens prevented Columbus from winning its first postseason series. During the 2014-15 season, Dubinsky took the rivalry to another level by cross-checking Crosby at the neck.
According to Sportsnet, here's what Crosby said when asked about the hit:
“I’m not surprised. If I was going to get one of those shots it would probably be from him.”
The two players also got into a scrap back in the 2014-15 season. Given how the teams are Metropolitan Division rivals, we're sure the end of this Crosby and Dubinsky rivalry is far from done.
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