They’re the players we love to hate. None of us would shed a tear if they were no longer in the NHL. They take every liberty they can on vulnerable players. They never seem to deliver clean body checks. They’d rather blindside a guy, take a cheap shot or go after players smaller than them. Whatever the case may be, they just aren’t very likeable hockey players.
Hockey is a physical sport. Guys won’t be faulted merely for playing physical, but there is a fine line that these guys seem happy to cross. They don’t seem to respect the code of where and how you can hit other players. Their rap sheets are ugly, showing multiple suspensions and solidifying their negative reputations around the league.
These are the 10 dirtiest players currently in the NHL.
10) Alexander Ovechkin
Being one of the league’s most talented players doesn’t give you a free pass from this list. Alexander Ovechkin delivers hard hits, but regularly takes them too far. He’s delivered blindside hits, knee-on-knee hits and hits from behind.
He’s been suspended three times in his career, but his longest suspension was merely three games. The one everyone remembers most is his boarding penalty on Brian Campbell back in 2010 which resulted in a broken collarbone for Campbell. Ovechkin was suspended just two games for that hit.
There’s no denying that Ovechkin is at his best when he’s delivering some physical play on top of his scoring ability, but sometimes he goes too far or simply goes dirty.
9) Steve Ott
He’s one of the biggest agitators of his era and he really is willing to go to extreme lengths to live up to that. For goodness sake, look at the footage. He actually licked another player. If that’s not dirty, I don’t know what is. You don’t know where that tongue has been.
Ott has been a useful player in his career. He’s very good at faceoffs, he kills penalties and he even had a 22-goal season with Dallas a few years ago.
Ott has served multiple suspensions in his career. Back in the 2007-08 season, he was banned for three games for a hit to the head of Jordan Leopold.
In 2009, he received a one-game suspension for eye gouging Travis Moen, then of the Anaheim Ducks. Ott claimed it was accidental, but given his style of play, he’s just one of those guys you have a tough time believing.
8) Maxim Lapierre
Maxim Lapierre has played for four different teams over the last five years but his style of play never seems to change. He was a dirty player when he was a Montreal Canadien. He was a dirty Duck in Anaheim, a dirty Canuck in Vancouver and is a dirty Blue now.
He’s only been suspended twice, once back in 2010 for a hit from behind on Scott Nichol and this past season for hitting Dan Boyle from behind. Don’t let the short rap sheet fool you though; Lapierre is dirty.
He constantly flaps his gums on the ice, never owns up to it and constantly embellishes. When it’s time to face the music, he turtles away when asked to fight. He constantly delivers late hits, hits from behind, and does basically everything other than manning up.
Who knows what terrible things he’s saying on the ice to get under his opponents’ skin. What a player wouldn’t give to get one great shot at him…
7) Cody McLeod
Cody McLeod’s hit from behind on Niklas Kronwall early this season vaulted him up this list, but that’s not the only reason why he’s here. McLeod was suspended five games for this incident, but you might recall his boarding penalty for taking out Jared Spurgeon.
There was also his knee hit on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who didn’t even have the puck, thus no one can say it was a hockey play.
We know that the NHL has a deeply flawed system when it comes to handing down suspensions, and shockingly, McLeod’s only suspension was for his hit on Kronwall. This is the kind of player who should be suspended more.
Now that he has been suspended, he may be more likely to receive more if he continues to play the way he does, given the NHL’s tendency to crack down on “repeat offenders”.
6) Brad Marchand
You know a player is bad when his own team’s fan base can’t defend what he does. Brad Marchand is the kind of player you’d want to lock in a cage with a wolverine. His physical play never seems to be kosher, bordering on dirty at best and riddled with blatant cheap shots at worst.
Marchand never stops yapping and his constant diving just irks every player and hockey fan. Unfortunately for him, his reputation is coming back to haunt him, as we saw in this year’s playoffs. Referees have him under a microscope and his reputation is now working against him.
Marchand has only been a full-time NHLer for a few years, but he has already become one of the league’s most hated players.
He was suspended five games for clipping Sami Salo back in 2012. He was fined $2,500 for slew-footing Matt Niskanen and suspended two games for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head.
That might all be forgivable if Marchand wouldn’t dive or embellish so much. Heck, it seems he doesn’t even know how to make it believable. We’ve seen multiple instances where he’s selling an injury to the refs and holding the wrong body part! Even some of the dirtiest of soccer players wouldn’t dream of doing what Marchand does.
5) Steve Downie
Steve Downie came into the NHL already having established a bad rep as a dirty player and it didn’t take him long to live up to that billing. Back when he was in the juniors, he cross-checked his own teammate Akim Aliu and later fought him for refusing to take part in a hazing. Real classy, Downie.
He constantly delivers questionable hits and his most reckless one goes back to a preseason game in 2007. That’s right; Downie clearly showed an intent to injure another player, in preseason game. In the hit on Dean McAmmond he charges from multiple strides away and leaves his feet to deliver the hit. He was suspended 20 games.
In an AHL game, he was suspended 20 games for slashing a referee, back in 2009. Guess he wants to injure everybody.
He was at it again this year, charging defenceman Roman Josi. He wasn’t suspended, though he clearly launched himself into Josi. He was merely given a two-minute infraction on the play. It still leaves him with five instances in which he’s been fined or suspended.
4) Dan Carcillo
There aren’t many things that Dan Carcillo can seem to do right on the ice nowadays. In his team’s playoff series against Montreal, he was suspended 10 games for putting his hands on a referee, which is automatic.
Carcillo has 10 times as many penalty minutes as he has points in his career. He dives and is a reckless hitter that doesn’t offer much else to the game. The Rangers are probably better off with him suspended.
In terms of his play, his signature suspension was seven games for his hit on Tom Gilbert back in 2012. He was called for boarding and there was poetic justice, as Carcillo suffered a knee injury himself on the play, ending his season.
With his suspension in these playoffs, Carcillo has racked up six career suspensions. Take a bow, Dan.
3) Raffi Torres
Raffi Torres is a hard-nosed player. He doesn’t dive, embellish, fight or even have many stick infractions. However, he’s known for the act most frowned upon by modern hockey fans; head-hunting.
Had Torres been playing in a different era, perhaps he’d be celebrated, but things have changed in the NHL. Predatory hits don’t endear a player to fans.
We remember his hit to the head on Marian Hossa in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was initially suspended 25 games for the incident, later appealed down to 21. Either way, he clearly left his feet to hit Hossa, going for the head.
Last year, he was again suspended during the playoffs, for a hit on Jarret Stoll for an additional 10 games. The fact that he was a repeat offender played a factor in him getting 10 games. All his suspensions seem to be for a hit targeting the head.
2) Patrick Kaleta
You name it, Patrick Kaleta does it; diving, charging, head-butting, he’ll do it all. Kaleta has a long track record and his list of suspensions doesn’t tell the whole story.
Kaelta’s longest suspension came early this season for a hit to the head on Jack Johnson. He wasn’t penalized on the play but received 10 games. He’s been suspended four times and fined once. However, look at Kaleta play and I promise you won’t like him.
Oh yeah, and since when is there head-butting in hockey? Well, being the innovator he is, Kaleta has done it more than once.
1) Matt Cooke
As soon as Matt Cooke delivered his knee-on-knee hit on Tyson Barrie, he went back up to the top spot. While he hadn’t had any infractions in quite a while, this player’s reputation will not escape him and he deserves every bad thing said about him. He’s scum. There’s no nice way to say it.
He’s gutless and every general manager who has signed him should be ashamed of themselves.
His six suspensions should be more and is a testament to the shortcomings of the NHL’s disciplinary department and player safety. No one should be defending this player. An apology a few years ago doesn’t fix what he did, or what he may continue to do as NHL teams apparently still seem to be interested in his services.