If you go around asking people in the hockey world which team has the most passionate fan base, a large majority of them will bring up the fanatics that cram into the Bell Centre during Montreal Canadiens home games.
They will likely also note that Canadiens fans can be as fickle as they are enamored with Les Glorieux.
Many a Montreal Canadien has stepped onto the hallowed Forum or Bell Centre ice only to find an angry mob raining down on them from every angle, rather than an admiring fan base cheering them on. Expectations are as high as they are anywhere in the league - and in the sporting world, for that matter - so it can become difficult to please the Montreal crowd at times.
Even legends have been unable to escape the wrath of the impatient Habs faithful - we needn't remind Montrealers of the ugly Patrick Roy debacle - and while they are easily forgiving, they are just as likely to never forget a bad goal let in, an untimely penalty or a particularly bad stretch of hockey.
They say Montreal can be the best place in the league to play hockey, but it can just as well be the worst. Aside from the sometimes irresponsible expectations placed on the players and coaches, there is the intense media scrutiny and the heavy burden of history that can weigh even the brightest stars down.
The names on this list will likely not surprise you and some may leave a sour taste in your mouth. While each situation is fairly unique, one constant remains throughout; these players, at one point or another, were loathed by a fan base that can reach both ends of the emotional spectrum with ease - loving and warm one night, nasty and unforgiving the next.
20 Patrick Traverse
When a player makes the claim that he only played in the NHL for a certain amount of time - in this case about 300 games - because there are 30 teams in the league, you know that player probably didn't make much of an impact during his time in the big leagues.
19 Carey Price
No need to do a double take here. While Carey Price has become the most beloved Canadiens player of the last decade and perhaps the best player in the entire National Hockey League, there was a time where Price was the city's black sheep - the high draft pick destined to become a bust while late draft pick Jaroslav Halak was blossoming into a star.
18 Marcel Hossa
If you had to narrow it down to one reason in particular as to why Montreal Canadiens fans hated Marcel Hossa, it was likely because he was not his brother, Marian. Hossa came to the Habs with expectations of replicating what his brother had been able to do in the NHL up to that point, but the younger Hossa was never able to establish himself at the highest level. Habs fans are still bitter that their team passed on Marian many years ago but had no problem reaching for Marcel.
17 Mariusz Czerkawski
Like many who have donned the Habs jersey over the years, Mariusz Czerkawski came to Montreal with high expectations after three strong years with the New York Islanders. Czerkawski was a complete flop in Montreal and Habs fans let him know it on a daily basis. Czerkawsi became the team's whipping boy in the papers and on talk radio, and it was only a matter of time before the Polish Prince was on his way out of town.
16 Janne Niinimaa
15 Matt Higgins
14 Jason Ward
Jason Ward carved out a niche as a grinder, at best, but he was drafted by the Canadiens to fill an offensive role as the 11th overall pick. Ward was never able to do so in Montreal and deservedly drew the ire of the fan base relatively quickly. To make matters worse for Ward, the player the Canadiens passed on - and the player taken one pick later by the Ottawa Senators - was Marian Hossa, who is riding out a Hall of Fame career in Chicago after establishing himself as one of the top offensive players of the 2000s while playing for the Senators.
13 Ryan O'Byrne
This entry might be a little off the radar, but there's no doubt that there were a lot of people who had a serious hate-on for Ryan O'Byrne during his time with the Canadiens.
12 Georges Laraque
11 Jocelyn Thibault
I almost feel bad slotting Jocelyn Thibault into this list. It's not his fault he played on some less that stellar Habs teams. It's not his fault that he was a French Canadian goaltender playing under the brightest possible spotlight for a French Canadian goaltender. And, most of all, it's not his fault that he was the goaltender tabbed as Patrick Roy's replacement.
Did Habs fans care about any of that? Not one bit.
10 David Desharnais
Read the entire paragraph before flipping out, Habs fans.
Today, David Desharnais is a serviceable and, for the most part, effective center for the Habs. He has put up solid point totals since earning a full-time spot on the Habs top-two lines and has developed a good chemistry with captain and top scorer Max Pacioretty that head coach Michel Therrien can lean on from time to time.
However, for a good chunk of time several years ago, Desharnais was the Montreal faithful's whipping boy. His struggles were well documented by both the English and French media and fans across the city were calling for Desharnais' benching, demotion, or even shipment out of town.
Add to the fact that Montreal mayor Denis Coderre tweeted that the Habs should send Desharnais down to Hamiton on a one-way flight added fuel to the fire and while many defended Desharnais, the majority of the city piled on and sided with the newly-minted mayor.
As it turned out, the controversy sparked Desharnais, who turned his season around and has been decent since. Don't get it twisted, though - you can't go a day listening to Montreal sports talk radio with at least one or two fans calling in with the sole purpose of shredding Desharnais.
9 David Fischer
The fact that David Fischer made this list says a lot about how big of a bust he was. Not only did Fischer never come anywhere close to making the National Hockey League, he barely had a cup of coffee in the American Hockey League before moving on to play in Europe.
Fischer stands out because he's one of the few Habs busts that the casual Habs fan will bring up when discussing the team's lack of success at the draft table during the early parts of the 2000s. Fischer was not only a massive bust, he was taken two picks ahead of Claude Giroux, who has not only become a superstar but was also playing down the road from the Bell Centre with the Gatineau Olympiques. Fischer, meanwhile, was an NCAA player with the University of Minnesota - Bob Gainey went through an NCAA phase for a few years during the mid 2000s.
Several did not pan out.
8 Alexander Perezhogin
7 Tomas Kaberle
It was a running joke for awhile that Tomas Kaberle had been so bad in Carolina that the Habs might be able to get him for cheap to help a struggling power play - but it was nothing more than a running gag for most Montrealers...until one fateful morning when it wasn't just a joke anymore.
6 André Racicot
5 Rene Bourque
Habs fans have a way of trying to justify trades before the player they are acquiring even finds out about the trade himself. The Mike Cammalleri for Rene Bourque deal was a fiasco from the get-go, as Pierre Gauthier traded the fan favorite Cammalleri for Bourque in the middle of a game. Bourque had scored 27 goals in a season before, though, so he should be able to do that in Montreal, if not better right?
4 Doug Wickenheiser
Doug Wickenheiser was doomed from the start.
It's hard enough to be the first overall draft pick and come into a city like Montreal during the years following three separate dynasties in three separate decades. Wickenheiser was expected to pick up where those before him had left off, but the centreman was unable to fill the large shoes of the likes of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and countless others.
3 Sergei Samsonov
2 Patrice Brisebois
1 Scott Gomez
There was no question that Scott Gomez was going to own the top spot on this list - and it wasn't even close. In one of the most ill advised trades in franchise history, Bob Gainey shipped out top prospect Ryan McDonagh (among others) for Gomez. While Gomez was key in attracting big name free agents in the summer of 2009, his stint in Montreal will be remembered more for the ire he drew from Habs fans and his seemingly never-ending goalless drought that stretched over two seasons.
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