Hockey players are some of the most coordinated athletes on the planet. Sure, every sport likes to make that claim but let's look at the logistics. They're skating 20 miles an hour while controlling a 1 by 3 disc, and at any given moment someone can take their head off with a bone crushing hit. There's barely any stopping or lulls in the play, as sometimes 3-4 minutes can elapse before a stoppage in play. As fans, we've been privileged to see some moves out there that are simply poetry on ice. For example, anytime Patrick Kane takes a penalty shot, everyone is on their feet anticipating his "wizardry." Alex Ovechkin's goal against Phoenix where he managed to put the puck in while he was sliding on his back is another moment that will be etched in fan's minds forever. Having said all that... there's also been some epic fails!
There has been some blunders that you have to see to believe. Moments that these players (and one ref, and one fan) would like to be buried in the archives and never seen again. Naturally, we're going to look at them over and over. Here are the top 20 epic fails in the NHL!
20 20. Dion Phaneuf Trips
Let's start off with everyone's favorite whipping boy, Mr. Dion Phaneuf! It seems like ages ago that Phaneuf was dawning a Flames uniform. In this unfortunate miscue (for him), he's trying to engage Canucks forward Jarko Ruutu in a fight, but Ruutu sneakily put his stick between Phaneuf's legs and he ended up going for an embarrassing tumble. Commentator, Greg Millen was beside himself with this one. The best part is that Phaneuf had to go do the walk of shame, as he passed the Canucks bench to pickup his equipment. For extra comic relief, listen to the song Yakety Sax in the background and put Phaneuf's fall on repeat. Alright, we're done for now, Dion.
19 Claude Lemieux Gets Dummied
In the 2008-2009 season, Claude Lemieux decided to make a comeback to the game of hockey, despite having been retired for five years and being 43 years old. To his credit, he didn't embarrass himself out there...until this happened. Lemieux decided to mix it up with the much younger and bigger Theo Peckham of the Edmonton Oilers and just got dummied. Peckham fires off right hands in succession and lands every single one as Lemieux slowly falls to the ice. Thankfully, the linesmen intervened to save Lemieux from more punishment, but the salt in the wound was when Lemieux tried to throw two punches of his own in the scrum that ensued and Peckham proceeded to laugh in his face. Ah well, at least he didn't turtle this time.
18 Vesa Toskala Lets In A 197 Footer
Vesa Toskala had some tough times with the Leafs. Not as tough as Andrew Raycroft, but still far from a success. In this video, the Isles were on the penalty kill and Rob Davison shoots the puck the length of the ice in an attempt to clear the zone, except it went right by Toskala and into the net. The puck bounced a multitude of times and eluded poor Vesa's mitt. Commentator (and former goalie) Greg Millen always seems to say the right thing to make it even more hilarious: "FOLLOW THE TENNIS BALL, 1,2,3,4,5 BOUNCES!"
17 Curtis Joseph Loses his Mind
The man they call "Cujo" was more furious than the dog in the movie here. He felt that he was interfered with, but referee Mick McGeough (pronounced Magoo, which is more appropriate in his case) didn't see any such interference. Joseph was incensed and went right after the official but slipped, fell and ending up taking both himself and Mr. Magoo (oh yeah, we're sticking with Mr. Magoo) out. Cujo was not given a suspension for his freak-out, but as James Duthie so eloquently put it: "because it's worse than a suspension, the embarrassment of having that clip played over and over on TSN."
16 The Most Violent Fight Of All-Time
Fighting is a part of hockey and it's not going anywhere. This is not to say that there are not good reasons for eliminating it, but the audience loves it, as it helps draws ratings, particularly in the States. When two combatants square up, everyone is on their feet in excitement. During a heated gamed between the Sens and Habs, Aaron Downey and Brad Norton decided to drop the gloves. This one was a bit of a disappointment...
15 Don Koharski Gets Owned
There are times where referees get reprimanded for poor performances. For example, if the league is not happy with the way certain refs have been calling the games, then they will not be officiating any playoff games. Basically, the referees get disciplined in private and it's very rare that the league will publicly blame them for anything. This is one of the rare instances where the ref got owned and was shown absolutely no support by the league.
Devils' coach Jim Schoenfeld goes after referee Don Koharski (post game) after losing game three of the conference final against Boston. It appears that someone else shoves Koharski or Koharski himself just simply falls. An enraged Koharski gets up and yells: I HOPE IT'S ON TAPE! Accusing Schoenfeld of shoving him to the floor. Schoenfeld matter-of-factly replies: "You're crazy, good...cause you fell, you fat pig! Have another doughnut!"
The NHL decided not to suspend Schoenfeld for this fiasco. To surmise, Koharski got chased after a game, embarrassingly fell to the floor (by himself), then got called a fat pig and got zero support from the league. That's an epic fail in our books. 1-0 Schoenfeld!
14 Ryan O'Byrne Scores In Own Net
Poor O'Byrne never really recovered from this mishap. There was a delayed penalty called against the New York Islanders and O'Byrne was controlling the puck. For whatever reason, he slid it into a gaping net as Price was pulled for the extra attacker. It's puzzling as to what was going through O'Byrne's mind at that moment. He claimed that he wasn't aware that there was a delayed penalty being called and assumed that Price was still in the goal, and was trying to play the puck back to him. That's great, but...O'Byrne (and any of the Habs defence for that matter) have used that play a grant total of zero times. This one still baffles a lot of people.
13 Niclas Wallin Scores in His Own Net
Alright O'Byrne, we're going to do you a solid and make everyone reading this list forget about how poor your "own goal" was because Niclas Wallin's was far more ridiculous! For one, there was nobody on him as he had the time to make a full loop and gather momentum. He also put the puck RIGHT in the center of the net as if that was his desired target all along. To top it all off, he doesn't even appear to show an ounce of remorse, as he even gives his teammate a pat on the shins as if everything went according to plan. At least O'Byrne had the decency to act embarrassed. Shame...
12 Kovalchuk Schools Crosby
This one could be a bit lower on the list, but it gets amplified because we get to see the face of hockey get Punk'd. This incident occurred in Sid's rookie year in the league as he and Ilya Kovalchuk were in a spirited battle. Finally, Kovalchuk cools off but Crosby continues to whack and hack away as 17 just takes it. Finally, the refs had seen enough and sent Crosby to the sin bin. Kovalchuk ended up burying a goal on the power play and his response was classic.
11 Rick DiPietro Gets Flattened
DiPietro will go down as (bar none) the most injury plagued goalie to ever play in the NHL. He became the butt-end of every joke because he had a lucrative 15-year contract and was constantly hurt. It wasn't only common goalie style injuries either (hip, groin, knee), as he had terrible luck. One time, he even got hurt as the backup goalie when a puck flew into the bench and smacked him on the jaw. When the man they called "DiPi" finally rehabbed his injuries and was ready to hit the ice, he was met with a Brent Johnson left hook. You can even read Di Pietro's lips as he hits the ice as he mutters: "You're a southpaw? F***!"
10 Dennis Wideman's Shootout Attempt
This is the funniest shootout attempt there is and the funniest there ever will be in the competition. There had to be an imaginary banana peel under Dennis Wideman's skate or something as he even got some serious air time here. We don't have any statistics to back this up, but we'll assume thta Wideman's number was never called again during the shootout. Fail!
9 Marc-Andre Fleury Falls
Let's set the stage, it's game one of the Stanley Cup Finals vs. the mighty Detroit Red Wings. It's the biggest game of Fleury's career (at that point). He runs through the tunnel, full of energy like a bat out of hell...and then blows a tire, oops. It had to hurt his ego even more when the kids in the Red Wings sweaters were pointing and laughing. Fleury's biggest in-game blunder came in the gold medal game at the World Juniors, but this one tends to fly under the radar. Naturally, we had to bring it up.
8 8. Martin Brodeur Scores On Himself
He will go down as the best puck handling goalie of all-time, and quite possibly the best goalie of all-time, but even the best make mistakes. In the Stanley Cup Finals vs. Anaheim, Brodeur went to handle the dump in but dropped his stick and managed to deflect the puck into his own net. To Brodeur's credit, the gaffe didn't seem to deter him as the Devils went on to win the series and the cup in seven games. Martin Brodeur finished his career with three goals, maybe four if we count that one? Just teasing, Marty.
7 Patrick Roy Statue Of Liberty Play
Another French Canadian goalie makes a fool of himself in the playoffs! This one took place in the 2002 Conference Finals against none other than the Avs arch nemesis, the Detroit Red Wings. Roy made a spectacular diving save and decided to "put a bit of mustard on it" (showboat), as he's been known to do. Except this time it backfired...really backfired. Of course, Roy did the exact same thing when the opportunity presented itself again.
6 Fan Gets What He Deserves!
We're going to shift gears here and take a look at the best epic fail by a fan at an NHL hockey game. As Steve Sullivan explains, he gets clipped with a high stick which resulted in him having a bloody nose, as he was bent over tending to the blood with a towel, he heard a fan taunting him. Sullivan got sweet revenge on this fan like no other player has before (with a little help from Karma).
First of all, he managed to score two short handed goals right after the incident and then justice ensued. Patrick Roy flicked the puck over the glass and the same fan that was heckling Sullivan got hit right in the mug and started bleeding profusely. This was too good of an opportunity to pass up, Sullivan had to go pay him a visit! Not even beating a fan with his own shoe tops this one.
5 Ty Conklin Screws Up
You might be wondering why Ty Conklin was in nets during the Stanley Cup finals. It's because Dwayne Roloson actually went down with a knee injury earlier in the game and Conklin took his spot. Miscues like that behind the net happen once in a while, but Conklin really picked the absolute worst time to get confused. His gaffe obviously didn't instill much confidence in his coach as Roloson was out for the series but Craig MacTavish opted to go with Jussi Markkanen for the remainder of the even game series. Mac-T has gone on record (several times) saying that if Roloson hadn't gotten hurt, they unquestionably would have won. Bitter much?!
4 Keith Ballard Rocks Tomas Vokoun In The Head
Seriously Ballard?! Not only did he smoke his own goalie with his stick, but he even gave the post a wack after to finish the job and ensure that his stick was broken. It's not unusual to see a hockey player go into a blind rage, but not that blind. It took a minute to sink in but Ballard did actually feel terrible after the fact. He looked like he just wanted to bury himself under the ice and hide as Vokoun was being carried off on a stretcher.
3 Tommy Salo's Infamous Salt Lake City Moment
This fail didn't happen in an NHL game but it involved an NHL player, so we're counting it! Tommy Salo will never live this one down. During the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the powerhouse Swedes were up 3-1 against Belarus in the quarter finals. The only reason it was so close was because Belarus goaltender Andrei Mezin was having the game of his life. Regardless of the Swedes domination, Belarus continued to chip away and managed to tie the game 3-3. What happened next was one of the most bizarre goals of all time as Vladimir Kopat simply slapped the puck on net from near center ice. Salo misjudged it and it bounced off his head and into the net. That was the game winner and elimination for Sweden.
2 "Patrick Stefan You Should Be Embarrassed"
This game was over! Patrick Stefan picked Marc-Andre Bergeron's pocket and with 11 seconds left, all he had to do was guide the puck into the open net. His eyes weren't on the puck, he flubbed his backhand and then proceeded to fall on his butt. But even at that, what were the chances that the Oilers would take the puck up all the way up the ice and score with only 11 seconds left? This is one of those plays that if you saw it in a movie, you'd roll your eyes because it's too ridiculous. Patrick Stefan, you should be embarrassed indeed!
1 Steve Smith's Defining Moment
Smith was a more than serviceable defenceman throughout his career, making stops in Edmonton, Chicago and Calgary. Unfortunately, he will be remembered for his costly mistake in game seven of the Conference Finals against Calgary, as it just may be the most influential gaffe of all time. With 14:46 left in a 2-2 game, Smith had the puck behind the net and accidently banked it off Grant Fuhr's skate and into the net. Edmonton couldn't rally and Calgary was off to the Stanley Cup finals. To this day, it has to be a very pill to swallow.
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