Some types of NHL players who are more embraced by their team's fanbase than others. Fans love players who have character, who are perceived to be working harder than everyone else and who don't shy away from playing a physical game. Fans also love players who have personality and say interesting or sometimes controversial things, rather than the sad, tired cliches we hear everyday about giving "110%". Most importantly, fans love winning. Even the least skilled, uninspired, boring hockey player can sometimes garner praise if his team is winning.
That can all change if a team starts losing. Fans become angry and need somewhere to direct that anger. Rather than take all of their frustration out on the entire team, fans typically pick one player to subject to their scorn. Often times an overpaid player, an underachieving defenseman or a struggling goaltender bares the brunt of it. Fans will boo, chant, or even threaten a player out of sheer frustration.
Of course fans hatred of a player isn't always tied to the team's success. Sometimes the hatred is built up over time by contract holdouts, faking of injuries, off-ice problems or a prolonged period of uninspired and unproductive play. Sometimes the hatred is based on a history of disdain that began when the player was on another team. The fifteen players on this list have all, at one point or another, been subjected to the vitriol of their own team's fans.
Being hated by the people who are suppose to support you can't be easy. The effects of it have had varying results. Some players took it to heart and were never the same, some players didn't get bothered by it and continued to play their own game, and some players managed to find their way out of the fans' doghouse and back into their good graces. Here are the top fifteen players who were hated by their own team's fans:
15 Brad May - Colorado Avalanche
Prior to Todd Bertuzzi's March 8, 2004 attack on Steve Moore in which he sucker punched the Avalanche forward, broke his neck and ended his NHL career, it was Bertuzzi's teammate Brad May who said - jokingly he claims - that the team had put a bounty on Moore's head. So when the Avalanche signed May to a two-year, $1.3 million deal prior to the 2005-06 season, it left a sour taste in Avalanche fans' mouths. May was booed for much of his one plus seasons in Colorado, before he was traded to the Ducks at the 2007 deadline.
14 Tim Cheveldae - Detroit Red Wings
During parts of six seasons between the pipes for the Detroit Red Wings, Tim Cheveldae became the fans' favorite whipping boy for the team's lack of playoff success. Cheveldae's regular season numbers were decent enough - he posted a 38-23-9 record in 72 starts in 1991-92 - but his inability to win in the postseason irritated fans. When Chris Osgood emerged as the team's next starting goalie, Cheveldae was shipped to Winnipeg.
13 Uwe Krupp - Detroit Red Wings
The German born Uwe Krupp, whose triple overtime goal in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup Final gave the Avalanche the Cup, joined the Red Wings for the 1998-99 season on a four year, $16.4 million contract. Krupp was limited to 22 games in his first season with the Red Wings due to a back injury. While he was suppose be rehabbing his injury, it was discovered that Krupp was racing his dogsled. The team and its fans were livid and Krupp was suspended while the Red Wings tried to void his contract.
Krupp missed two full seasons and filed a grievance for the $8.2 million he was owed during those two years, eventually winning about half of it. He returned to the team to play eight games and two playoff games during the Red Wings' Stanley Cup winning 2001-02 season, not enough games to get his name on the Cup.
12 Shayne Corson - Everywhere
Shayne Corson managed to be hated almost everywhere he went during his 19-year NHL career. Corson began his career in Montreal where his dirty play and several bar fights led to three suspensions during the 1991-92 season. The team and its fans grew tired of Corson's act and he was traded to the Oilers in the summer of 1992. The Oilers' record was atrocious during his three seasons in Edmonton and fans reached their breaking point when Corson was involved in a fight with teammate Jason Arnott over who was credited with an assist. Following the incident Corson was stripped of his captaincy and head coach George Burnett was fired.
The following offseason Corson joined the St. Louis Blues where he was involved in another captaincy controversy before being dealt back to Montreal. In the summer of 2000, Corson signed with the Maple Leafs. In Toronto, Corson, his brother-in-law Darcy Tucker, and Travis Green formed a faction that divided the team's dressing room. Most fans in Toronto continued to support Corson, but turned their feelings for him turned to hatred after he abandoned the team during the 2003 playoffs. He signed with the Stars towards the end of the following season and played 17 games and five playoff games with Dallas before retiring.
11 Patrice Brisebois - Montreal Canadiens
The former Montreal Canadiens defenseman was popular in his early days in Montreal and was a member of their 1993 Stanley Cup winning team. He signed a three year, $12 million contract in 1999 and eventually the expectations that came with an annual salary of $4 million were too much for him to live up to. Brisebois was booed mercifully whenever he touched the puck during his latter years in Montreal, prompting GM Bob Gainey to call out the team's fans. “We don’t need those people, we don’t want those people, they’re jealous people, yellow people" said Gainey, before later adding, "Our message to them is to stay away. We don’t need you.”
Brisebois even received throat slashing gestures and was sometimes yelled at on the streets of Montreal. Years later he would admit that his treatment in Montreal sent him into a depression and it was "the worst period of his life".
10 Jason Arnott - Edmonton Oilers
Jason Arnott was drafted 7th overall by the Oilers In 1993 and posted 33 goals and 68 points while finishing second in voting for the Calder during his rookie campaign. During Arnott's sophomore season he was involved in the confrontation with Shane Corson and became a focal point of disdain for media and fans for his "off-ice issues".
Arnott's play was inconsistent over the next two seasons and after getting out to an awful start to the 1997-98 season fans grew angrier with him. He was then dealt to the New Jersey Devils where he would go on to his lone Stanley Cup victory in 2000.
9 Petr Nedved - Everywhere
Several contract holdouts and failure to live up to expectations led to Nedved being booed throughout his career. Nedved began his career in Vancouver and broke out with 38 goals and 71 points in 1992-93, but irked fans after a playoff series loss to the Los Angeles Kings when he asked his idol, Wayne Gretzky, for his stick. Nevded further hurt Canucks fans when he sat out the majority of the 1993-94 season in a contract dispute. Nedved joined the St. Louis Blues for 19 games and four playoff games before he was dealt to the New York Rangers.
In New York, Nedved struggled and after posting 23 points in 46 games he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins, Nedved enjoyed the best year of his career, posting 45 goals and 99 points in 1995-96 followed by 10 goals and 20 points in 18 playoff games. After two seasons in Pittsburgh, Nedved drew the ire of Penguins fans when he sat out two seasons in another contract dispute.
Nedved was dealt back to the Rangers in a deal for Alexei Kovalev and was not only booed when he returned to Pittsburgh, but was also booed by Rangers fans for the majority of his second stint with the team. After leaving the Rangers, Nedved bounced around with the Oilers, Coyotes, and Flyers to end his career.
8 Bryan McCabe - Toronto Maple Leafs
McCabe was a top pairing defenseman for the majority of his seven seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but despite scoring a career high 68 points in 2005-06 he struggled to adjust his physical game to the rules of the new NHL. After signing a five year, $28.75 million extension, McCabe's play quickly dropped off and he became Leafs Nation's favorite whipping boy.
McCabe often found himself making costly decisions at costly times, like scoring an overtime goal in his own net. Fans' disdain for McCabe only grew during the 2007-08 season when he, along with four other players - dubbed the "Muskoka 5" - refused to waive their no-trade clauses. McCabe did eventually waive his clause in the summer of 2008 and was traded to the Florida Panthers, but he was still booed relentlessly when he made his first return to Toronto.
7 Alexei Yashin - Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators Russian star first drew the ire of fans when he missed the beginning of the 1995-96 season due to a contract dispute. Yashin earned his way back into their good graces and fans were ready to fully embrace him after he announced his intentions to donate $1 million to the city's National Arts Centre. The donation was later canceled after it was revealed that it was contingent on Yashin's parents receiving $85,000 per year in consulting fees.
After a career high 94 point season in 1998-99, Yashin was held scoreless in the team's first round sweep at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. Yashin then demanded a new contract and sat out the entire 1999-00 season in protest. Yashin was sued by fans during his holdout and by the time he returned for the 2000-01 season, the relationship could not be repaired. Yashin finished with 88 points, but once again disappeared in the postseason. At the 2001 draft he was dealt to the New York Islanders where he received a 10 year, $87.5 million contract and played five tumultuous seasons before being bought out.
6 Alexei Kovalev - New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens
Alexei Kovalev is one of the most skilled forwards to ever play the game, but his perceived laziness and sometimes questionable decision making always left fans wanting more. This made him equally loved and hated no matter where he went. There are two notable incidents involving Kovalev that upset his fans. In the 1995 playoffs, as a member of the New York Rangers, Kovalev feigned injury, lying on the ice in pain while Joe Sakic went up the ice and scored a goal for the Nordiques that was waived off due to the "injury".
In the 2004 playoffs, as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, Kovalev took a slash to the hand in overtime and quit on the play, leading to a Glen Murray game winning goal for the Bruins. His strong play usually led to fans re-embracing him, but some still dislike Kovalev.
5 Ken Hodge - Boston Bruins
Ken Hodge was part of one of the worst trades in NHL history when he was traded with Phil Esposito from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Boston Bruins. In nine seasons with the Bruins, Hodge scored 289 goals and 674 points in 652 games. He posted 40 or more goals three times, including a 50 goal campaign in 1974-74. Yet for all of his production, Hodge was never welcomed by Bruins fans and was booed no matter how often he scored.
"Sometimes, I feel like telling them all to go to hell," said Hodge. "But I figure the boos come from people who just don't understand? I gather that the people feel I'm not aggressive enough. But I don't think you have to run around crashing into people to qualify as a hockey player."
4 Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Canucks
Luongo was an all-star goaltender for much of his tenure with the Canucks, but his inability to win a Stanley Cup in Vancouver frustrated fans. When Loungo's play unraveled in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, he shouldered most of the blame for the loss to the Bruins. Cheers of "Lu" quickly changed to boos at Rogers Arena and fans were on board with management's efforts to trade Luongo and hand the goaltending reigns to Cory Schneider.
Luongo was able to rebuild his image, due in large part to his humorous Twitter account, @strombone1, and a number of sketches that aired on TSN. When the Canucks failed to deal Luongo at the 2013 trade deadline and Loungo expressed his frustration, saying "my contract sucks" fans became sympathetic to his plight and most supported him until he was finally traded to the Florida Panthers.
3 Larry Murphy - Toronto Maple Leafs
Larry Murphy had a Hall of Fame career on defense, but when he was traded to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 1995 the team's highest paid player quickly became the scapegoat for all of their problems. Murphy posted 100 points in 151 games for the Maple Leafs, but he was booed every time he touched the puck. He was practically given away to the Detroit Red Wings at the 1997 trade deadline for future "considerations" and went on to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in Detroit.
2 Sergei Federov - Detroit Red Wings
It's easy to forget now given his recent induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but Sergei Federov wasn't the most liked player throughout his NHL career. Federov joined the Detroit Red Wings in 1990 and instantly became one of the league's top players, producing 79 points as a rookie. He went on to win the Hart and Selke Trophies following a 120 point 1993-94 season. He won a second Selke Trophy after 107 points in his 1995-96 season. Still, much like Kovalev, there were times when Red Wings fans felt like he was capable of more.
Fans' frustration with Federov turned to hatred when he sat out the beginning of the 1997-98 season and said he would never play for the Red Wings again. Federov signed a six year, $38 million offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes, but Detroit matched it and the Russian star returned to help the Red Wings pick up their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 1998. Federov played five more seasons with Detroit and won another Stanley Cup in 2002.
Some fans re-embraced Federov while others continued to question his work ethic. In the summer of 2003, he upset the Red Wings faithful once again when he rejected two contract offers and bolted for Anaheim. For the remainder of his career, Federov was booed whenever he returned to Joe Louis Arena.
1 Mark Messier - Vancouver Canucks
The Moose may be the second leading scorer in NHL history but for fans of the Vancouver Canucks he'll always be the most hated player in the team's history. Messier began his three year stint in Vancouver by being given the number 11. Messier had worn it throughout his career, but the number was unofficially retired by the Canucks following the death of Wayne Maki. The fact that Messier was given the number without permission from the Maki family upset fans. Next Messier took control of the team's dressing room which led to longtime captain and fan favorite Trevor Linden handing his captaincy to Messier. While the team on the ice struggled, head coach Tom Renney was replaced by Mike Keenan who soon replaced Pat Quinn as general manager as well. Under Keenan, Messier was given full control of the dressing room and many fan favorites, including Linden were traded away.
Messier wasn't just hated in Vancouver for his off ice antics, on the ice he appeared to be lacking effort in his play and his statistics seem to back that up. In three seasons in Vancouver, Messier never posted more than 60 points. He returned to the New York Rangers following the 1999-00 season and immediately posted a 67 point season. To make matters worse for the Canucks, in the summer of 2013 Messier won a $6 million grievance against the team for money he believed he was owed.