When it comes to professional sports, it doesn't get much tougher, grittier or more physical than hockey. Large, muscular athletes skate around at high speeds looking to make an impact in a sport where body checking is a tactical, advantageous strategy and where willing fight participants will only be punished with five minute penalties.
It stands to reason, then, that tensions can often tend to run high and emotions may boil over to send things beyond the accepted levels of physicality. Even in a sport as rough and tumble as hockey, there is a defined, tacitly understood code of proper on-ice behavior. Actions like stick-swinging and dirty, blind-sided hits can fuel plenty of animosity between opponents (and sometimes teammates). Off the ice, plenty can happen to bring about a rift, with the rink often serving as a therapeutic space that actually allows beefs to play out in a way few other sports allow.
In these 20 heated player feuds, whether they stemmed from something that took place on the ice or off, one simple scrap or body check wasn't enough to bring tensions to a simmer. We don't know what happened behind closed doors to bring these conflicts to a head (well, in some cases we do), but what we do know offers enough reason to include these 20 spats among the NHL players who hate each other.
20 Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty
19 Ryan Kesler and R.J. Umberger
18 Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton
17 Mike Richards and P.K. Subban
16 Eddie Shack and Larry Zeidel
15 Ulf Samuelsson and Cam Neely
14 Bill Guerin and Brett Draney
13 Mikhail Grabovski and Sergei Kostitsyn
12 Milan Lucic and Ryan Miller
11 Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin
10 Lyle Odelein and Matthew Barnaby
9 Keith Primeau and Bob Probert
8 Sean Avery and Darcy Tucker
7 Eric Lindros and Scott Stevens
6 Maurice Richard and Ted Lindsay
5 Dino Ciccarelli and Claude Lemieux
4 Tie Domi and Ulf Samuelsson
3 Cal Gardner and Ken Reardon
2 Sean Avery and Martin Brodeur
1 Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore
Few NHL rivalries wind up in a court room, but then again, few also begin with such a vile and blatant attack as the one levied on Steve Moore by Todd Bertuzzi on March 8th, 2004. Late in an ugly, fight-filled game between Colorado and Vancouver, Bertuzzi was sent onto the ice for the Canucks with a clear intent to engage someone in a fight. He zeroed in on Moore (who had hurt Markus Naslund weeks earlier), who tried to skate away until Bertuzzi attacked from behind, punching and then landing atop a defenseless Moore. The hit fractured three vertebrae in Moore's neck and ended his NHL career. They would spend years embroiled in court battles, as Bertuzzi faced criminal charges while also being tried in a civil suit. The civil suit was settled out of court in 2014.
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