When it comes to being a professional athlete, there are seemingly countless advantages that come along with the profession. To excel at that level, your sport has to be something that you have been passionate about your entire life and it can be great to watch so many people living out their dreams.
To be a professional athlete, it also takes a great deal of dedication to your craft. There isn’t a notable athlete out there that has not put in some serious time and dedication to all phases of the game. When you make it to the top levels of the NHL, especially in contrast to sports like football with a bigger roster, you are part of an elite group of athletes.
However, to get that far, it does not mean you are necessarily a good person. The history of the NHL is littered with athletes that may have been incredibly talented on the ice, but were incredibly big jerks off of it. While some were able to keep their jerk attitudes to limited to off-ice shenanigans, others transcended this to there on ice persona.
You need to understand that when it comes to being a professional athlete, your life is always going to be in the spotlight. Any mistake that you make gets amplified ten-fold, and it can be even worse if the altercations happen with your teammates. Nothing says you’re a jerk like you’re the only one who cannot get along with your teammates. And if you’ve been moved to a few different teams? The problem may not be them, it’s you.
There are no shortage of different reasons that helped land all of these NHL players on this list, but that’s what helps make them the biggest jerks in the NHL.
20 Brad Marchand
I get it, Brad Marchand, you’re a young, talented, hockey player and you play for a fantastic hockey market in Boston. Like Tyler Seguin, who also played for the Bruins, Marchand is a known lover of the party life. This includes, but is not limited to moments where he gets drunk in public, takes his shirt off, and dances on tables. Nobody likes to see that guy at the bar, and it doesn’t make it any better that he’s an athlete. When it comes to on the ice, Marchand is also a highly emotional person. In 2014, Marchand received some heat for taunting the Canucks by mimicking lifting the cup (the Bruins beat Vancouver in 2011). It led to head coach Claude Julien to state
19 Alex Burrows
As a member of the Vancouver Canucks, Alex Burrows has been involved in a lot of great work off the ice to help raise support in the city of Vancouver. While this list is primarly reserved for only off-ice jerks, Burrows makes a special exception due to the repeated incidents of his on-ice chirping. A recent game that involved Burrows and Patrick O’Sullivan, involved Burrows making several digs at O’Sullivan about his father who was incredibly abusive.
It was only back in November that Jordin Tootoo came out and said that Burrows made digs at him for his battle with alcoholism, as well as verbally attacking Tootoo’s personal life and family.
18 Eric Lindros
Eric Lindros was an incredibly talented player, but was involved in much controversy throughout his career. When he was first drafted by the Nordiques, Lindros made it public (even prior to the draft) that he would refuse to play there blaming both the cities location, the lack of popularity, and the amount of “French-ness” that came along the team. Once he was drafted by the Nordiques, he refused to play until he was eventually traded to the Flyers.
One incident alone, does not a jerk make though. While it was never proven, there were heavy rumors surrounding Lindros sleeping with teammate, Rod Brind'Amour’s wife. This led to an alleged altercation with Lindros.
17 Kevin Stevens
Kevin Stevens had a tremendous career that included two Stanley Cups. While he had some great seasons, including 4 seasons of over 80 points, he had an open addiction problem with alcohol. His former agent described Stevens as being addicted to drinking and often had binge-sessions.
While still in the NHL, Stevens was also arrested for the buying, selling, and using of crack cocaine. On top of that, he also solicited a prostitute and then proceeded to smoke the crack cocaine with her. It’s hard to immediately make the link that someone who does crack cocaine is a jerk, but when talking to police, the prostitute stated
16 Alexei Yashin
I know that it must be incredibly frustrating to be playing on a contract that you feel you have vastly outperformed. The problem with contracts is that they’re pretty set in stone, and if you are going to try and tear up your contract and sit out, you’re going to look like a huge jerk. That’s exactly what Alexei Yashin did when he refused to play for the Senators in the 1999 season. No amount of talent can make up for that kind of head case in the locker-room. Yashin had hopes that he would sit out and then become a free agent. Joke was on him when the league ruled that sitting out a year from all play should not count as a year on your contract and Yashin was forced to live out his contract in the 2000-01 season.
15 Mike Richards
Now I don’t think Mike Richards is necessarily a jerk to fans. But the man has battled some issues, and it’s led to a decline in production and when your addictions are hindering the people around you and the sport you love, it isn’t the best look. Richards has had off-ice issues in his career, but none more prominent then in June of 2015 where he was stopped at the US-Canada border. Richards had possession of a controlled substance, which was allegedly Oxycodone.
14 Aaron Ward
13 Slava Voynov
Slava Voynov’s off-ice issues cost the player significantly in several different areas of his life. When Slava Voynov was charged with a misdemeanour of domestic violence against his wife, it ended his NHL career. The charges required Voynov to spend 90 days in jail, as well as 52 weeks of domestic abuse counselling , 3 years of probation, and 8 hours of community service.
12 Jeremy Roenick
11 Brendan Shanahan
10 Sean Avery
9 Mike Ribeiro
8 Dion Phaneuf
7 Mike Comrie
6 Tyler Seguin
5 Steve Downie
4 Mark Messier
When it comes to Mark Messier, there is no denying the tremendous legacy he left on the game of hockey. He just happened to burn some bridges along the way. One fanbase that has a particular problem with Messier is the Vancouver Canucks, who Messier signed with in the summer of 1997. The first jerk move? Messier demanded he wear the retired #11 which was no longer worn out of respect for the passing of an original Canuck, Wayne Maki, who passed away in 1974.
Then you also consider the fact that the most loved Canuck, Trevor Linden, allowed Messier to become team captain before the season even started. As a Canuck, Messier was lazy and ended up being a horrible signing for Vancouver.
3 Pavel Bure
It is one thing to hold out on your contract if you do not think you are getting paid enough money. I mean that doesn’t really make you a winner in my eyes, but at least it’s reasonable. It can seem a lot more jerk-like if you are being paid well, as Bure was in 1998 by the Canucks, and are still refusing to play. While many people would point to Bure’s attitude towards the end of his time with Vancouver as being a jerk, there is more to it.
One of the most controversial moments of Bure’s career turned out to be false. There was a rumor in the 1993-94 season, which included a Cup run for the Canucks, that Bure was going to withdraw his services for the postseason run citing a want out of Vancouver. The story greatly altered Bure’s public perception in Vancouver, but the winger claims the entire story was fabricated.
2 Evander Kane
1 Patrick Kane
If there is one advantage of Patrick Kane over Evander Kane, it’s that Patrick might be the most talented hockey player in the league and I don’t think people are rushing to hand Evander that title. However, Kane has a known pattern for off-ice problems and no moment was higher than his alleged assault of a cab driver. Kane, only 20 at the time, was with his cousin when they allegedly “punched the cab driver and grabbed money they had handed him after he told them he didn't have twenty cents in coins to give them their change," the report said. Similar to Evander, there is no telling how much truth there is to the story but it definitely does not paint Patrick in a very good light. This past off-season was also marred by controversy for the superstar, as he accused of sexual assault in August. Hardly the reputation you want if you are trying to make yourself not seem like a jerk off the ice.
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