When it comes to an NHL career, a lot that can go wrong. One of the biggest deterrents to a career that lives up to your expectations, is the hope that you will be able to stay injury free. There are countless players whose potential was never able to be reached because they were unable to stay healthy.
That being said, an injury is hardly something that we could consider as a terrible decision. It's not as if it was an active effort, but there are other deterrents that can hinder any promising career. You may be a talented player, but you are only as good as the contract that you have signed. Are you being paid like one of the best players in hockey? That's fantastic, and a wonderful accomplishment, but let's hope you can live up to your salary. For players that often sign lucrative deals and can't live up to them, their future in the NHL as a whole (much less as a starter) can be called into question.
As a result, you need to make sure that you have an agent that is able to consider both your current playing situation and what your future with the club will look like.
Another deterrent to any promising hockey career may be your inability to be a clean hockey player on the ice. There is nothing wrong with playing with a bit of an edge, but some players take that part of the game too far and it can completely ruin your legacy and future in the league.
It's hard to classify suspended players as making 'one move', as they are often repeat offenders and as a result are punished even more severely for their transgressions.
For whatever reason landed these individuals on the list, these are 15 of the biggest mistakes (at least at the time) that these NHL players made.
14 Cristobal Huet
Cristobal Huet was a solid goaltender for the Montreal Canadians. If not for their upcoming prospect Carey Price (who turned out to be okay), Huet could have had a long and successful career with the Canadiens. Unfortunately for Huet, he was traded to Washington, where he also put up stellar numbers before signing a big deal with Chicago in the offseason. Huet’s career never really took off in Chicago, he played decently, but battled for time with Nikolai Khabibulin. When Huet was named the starter, entering the 2009-2010 season, he still ended up losing that job to Niemi by the time the season ended. Now, Huet is now playing in the Swiss league in order to help relieve the Blackhawks of some cap issues. Sure Huet got paid, but I am sure this is not where he envisioned himself being after signing a huge contract.
13 Alexei Yashin
Alexei Yashin is an incredibly talented hockey player. Gifted offensively, he was a major party of some solid Ottawa teams and even some Islanders teams before retiring. Unfortunately, Yashin is also an incredibly huge cancer off the ice. His decision to holdout on the Ottawa Senators in 1999 ended up costing him a season in hopes of reworking his contract. That didn’t work and all it did was cost Yashin 12 months of hockey. Yashin then got traded to the Islanders where he played till 2007. When the Islanders bought out his contract, Yashin’s agent exclaimed that they were keen on potentially returning to Ottawa. Yeah right! Shocking to no one, Ottawa passed and Yashin ended up finishing his career in the KHL.
12 Wade Redden
There was a time when Wade Redden was one of the steadiest players in the NHL. After playing over a decade in Ottawa, Redden signed a six year deal with the New York Rangers. While the deal looked promising for Redden, it ended up being the worst decision of Redden's career as he struggled to excel with his new team. Within a few years of his contract, Redden was spending his nights in the AHL. His expensive contract finally came to an end when he was bought out in 2013, but that was long after Redden had anything left in the tank.
11 Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzgalov has always seemed like a bit of a character to the media and while that is great for a soundbite, it may not be great to have as a teammate. Bryz was a playing well for the Coyotes, winning 36 games in his last season there before becoming a free agent . When he left the team to sign a nine year deal with the Flyers, talk started leaking of Bryz being a little difficult behind the scenes and it became evident that him leaving was a huge benefit to the Coyotes. This is never what you want to hear about your player that you signed for nine years! Bryz failed to live out his contract and only played two years for the Flyers. Since then, Bryz bounced around with the Oilers, Wild and the Ducks which is hardly the security you hope for when you sign on for nine years.
11. Ryan Malone
Ryan Malone was an excellent hockey player for the Penguins and the Lightning for several years. When he signed a one year deal with the Rangers, there was speculation on what Malone would bring to the ice. It turns out that Malone's biggest issue was not on the ice, but off it. Malone got caught driving under the influence and under possession of cocaine in April of 2014. The arrest brought to light a troubling addiction for Malone that involved both alcohol and drug abuse. After appearing in six games with the Rangers, Malone told the team that he was no longer interested in playing. It is always unfortunate when a career is marred with personal issues.
10 Sean Avery
There is no doubt that Sean Avery is one of the most agitating players to ever step on the ice. With a variety of antics, including some questionably dirty plays, Avery's reputation in the locker room led to him being bounced around the league. One of Avery's worst antics came as a member of the Dallas Stars. Sean Avery had previously dated the actress, Elisha Cuthbert, who was then dating Dion Phaneuf. After Avery referred to Cuthbert as his sloppy seconds, the league suspended him for six games. Dallas was just one example of Avery being immature and irresponsible off the ice, and it was an attitude like this that significantly hindered his ability to be an effective player in the league.
9 David Clarkson
One of the things that has made the Maple Leafs bad is their awful cap management. This is perhaps best personified by their signing of Clarkson to an outrageous $36.75 million contract (over 7 years). Sure Clarkson got paid, but he also only had 26 points in 118 games in Toronto. Given that Clarkson was coming off of a Devils team that had just reached a Stanley Cup final, we cannot imagine he was thrilled when the realization set in that he was stuck with an awful team with an awfully hard contract to move. He's since been moved to Columbus, but hasn't found much more success there and has become a bit player for the team.
8 Raffi Torres
Raffi Torres doesn't have ‘one worst career’ decision move. Torres is an antagonist, but the fact that he's a dirty player has sunk him as a player. There is nothing wrong with being a pest, but Torres has significantly injured players in the past and as a result has never been able to find a consistent team in the NHL. Torres current team, the Sharks, is his seventh since being drafted in 2000. Torres’ latest altercation occurred this past October with an illegal hit on Ducks player Jakob Silfverberg. The league disciplined Torres 41 games for the incident. If Torres sees the ice again, one more toe out of line and that will be it for his career.
7 Marty McSorley
Marty McSorely was actually a pretty talented hockey player. McSorley debuted in 1983 and continued playing in the NHL until the 1999-2000 season. An incredibly long career, that is completely erased when you think about how it ended. I had no idea McSorely played that long, all I knew was that he took his stick and swung it across Donald Brashear’s head. The incident led to McSorely being suspended for the remainder of the season and effectively ended his career and ruined his image. McSorley was also convicted of assault with a weapon and received 18 months probation. It didn’t matter what Marty did that first decade in the NHL, as it was all ruined by one awful decision.
6 Dany Heatley
Dany Heatley used to be one of the top offensive talents in the league. Heatley was the top rookie for the Atlanta Thrashers (a now non-existent franchise) in 2002, but a driving accident completely altered his career. In 2003, Heatley was driving with teammate and close friend Dan Snyder. They lost control of the car and Snyder unfortunately passed away six days later due to injuries sustained. Heatley went on to have a fantastic career for several seasons, but the incident led to him requesting a trade out of Atlanta and forever changed the image and legacy of Heatley as well as the future of hockey in Atlanta.
5 Chris Simon
Chris Simon is not an awful hockey player, but he ended his career in an awful way. Never a clean player, Simon had been suspended eight times throughout his career. With the Islanders in 2007, Simon took his stick and took a two-handed baseball swing to the face of Ryan Hollweg. Obviously, that wasn't legal and it led to a 25 game suspension for Simon which also involved missing playoffs. Simon clearly did not learn from this lesson and in December of that year, was suspended for 30 games after attempting to injure Jarko Ruutu. The last suspension effectively ended his NHL career, as he was then traded to Minnesota where he played 10 games.
4 Slava Voynov
Slava Voynov is a talented hockey player and would have had a long career in Los Angelas. After three successful years, including some playoff heroics, Voynov signed a 6 year contract extension that was worth $25 million. Voynov's poor decision came off the ice when on October 20th he was arrested on domestic abuse charges. Once this was made apparent to the league, Voynov was suspended immediately and will likely not return to the league. No talent in the world can excuse something like that and it is another example of a promising career being cut short.
3 Jesse Boulerice
Jesse Boulerice was never an outstanding hockey player. Drafted in 1996, Boulerice played hockey until 2010 but spent most of his career in the AHL. One thing that made sure Boulerice didn't have much of a career was his wreckless play on the ice. In 2007, Boulerice, who was playing for the Flyers at the time delivered a check to the face of Ryan Kesler in a game in which his team was already leading, 7-3. The check was deemed vicious enough to warrant a 25 game suspension for Boulerice, which effectively ended his NHL career.
2 Anson Carter
There is something incredibly frustrating when you look at the career of Anson Carter. Carter had some strong years at the start with Bruins and Oilers, before failing to make a splash with the Rangers and Capitals. Then, Carter looked like a genius when he signed a 1 year deal to play with the Canucks. Alongside the emerging Sedin twins, Carter had the best year of his career notching 33 goals. Carter then made an awful decision to not re-sign with the Canucks citing contract disputes. Instead, Carter signed with Columbus and then was traded to Carolina. Carter could have been an everyday player in Vancouver, but instead only played 64 more games in the NHL after turning down their offer.
1 Todd Bertuzzi
Todd Bertuzzi was a top tier power forward in the league and watching the west-coast-express with him, Naslund and Morrison was always a great treat. However, Bertuzzi’s decision to punch Steve Moore in the back of the neck is by far the worst decision that anyone has made in NHL history. The punch severely injured Moore and ended his playing career. It led to a lengthy suspension for Bertuzzi, that included missing some playoff action. While Bertuzzi was able to find success for teams outside of Vancouver, he was never the same and the incident forever marred his career.