The 10 most loathsome NHL players

ST. PAUL, MN - MARCH 3: Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild voices his displeasure while linesman Ryan Galloway separates him from a member of the Calgary Flames during the game on March 3, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - MARCH 3: Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild voices his displeasure while linesman Ryan Galloway separates him from a member of the Calgary Flames during the game on March 3, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Which NHL players do you hate the most? 

Ask the question, and you’ll hear names like Milan Lucic and Corey Perry, i.e. players that draw your ire but ones that you'd take on your team in a heartbeat. Pests like Brad Marchand have their virtues too, when they're on your side.

There’s a difference, then, between players that you hate and players that you loathe.

The irredeemable player is loathsome. The fraudulent or counterfeit player is loathsome. The player that skirts the rules, plays injuriously and doesn’t do anything to balance that out is loathsome.

The Puck Daddy brain-trust debated this topic recently, and came up with this list of The Top 10 Most Loathsome Players in the NHL.

(Please note: We tried to keep this list restricted to on-ice/hockey-related reputations, understanding that Slava Voynov, Semyon Varlamov and others who have engaged in loathsome off-ice behavior are likely atop your own lists.)

And here … we … go.

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 06: Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (r) celebrates his powerplay goal at 11:51 of the third period against the New Jersey Devils along with Phil Kessel #81 (l) at the Prudential Center on February 6, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 06: Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (r) celebrates his powerplay goal at 11:51 of the third period against the New Jersey Devils along with Phil Kessel #81 (l) at the Prudential Center on February 6, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

10. Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs

Bozak isn’t exactly hated. Just disrespected by 30 fan bases, who see him as the poster-child for bad analytics, unearned ice time and a mediocre player being carried by his superstar friend, the Johnny Drama to Phil Kessel’s Vinny Chase. Now, after the Leafs were unable to move him, we’ll see what Bozak does on his own, baby bro …

Arizona Coyotes' Mike Smith gives up a goal to Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat, of the Czech Republic, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Arizona Coyotes' Mike Smith gives up a goal to Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat, of the Czech Republic, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

9. Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes

Smith’s had critics for years claiming he was a fraudulent goalie living off one good season (2011-12) who was exposed in last season’s 42-loss campaign. He’s also the most unrepentant diver in the NHL, and perhaps the greatest argument for making goalies fair game.

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  John Scott #20 of the San Jose Sharks walks back to the locker room after warm ups against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium on February 21, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: John Scott #20 of the San Jose Sharks walks back to the locker room after warm ups against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium on February 21, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

8. John Scott, Arizona Coyotes

Fun fact: 60-percent of tremors in California are the continuing aftershocks from the collective eye-roll from of Sharks fans after Doug Wilson signed Scott last summer. He’s seen as a Neanderthalic relic by most fans, with little redeemable hockey skill. But anyone that wears a T-shirt that features himself scoring one of his rare goals can’t be all bad.

Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro talks with reporters Monday, April 27, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Although the Predators rebounded after missing the playoffs the past two years, they lost the opening round of the playoffs 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro talks with reporters Monday, April 27, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Although the Predators rebounded after missing the playoffs the past two years, they lost the opening round of the playoffs 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

7. Mike Ribeiro, Nashville Predators 

Even if we leave out the civil suit for sexual assault he just settled, Ribeiro remains a player whose behavior saw him run out of Glendale and whose has a career of FIFA-quality diving. Some Predators fans are willing to stomach it all in the name of second-chances and points at center. Others … not so much.

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16:  Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets reacts after the announcement of a Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks, using video replay, resulting in a 3-2 Ducks lead during the third period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets reacts after the announcement of a Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks, using video replay, resulting in a 3-2 Ducks lead during the third period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

6. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

Another entry in the “widespread disrespect” category, even after a respectable season for a playoff team. Pavelec’s status as perhaps the worst starter in the NHL has been well chronicled. The best that can be said for his status with Jets fans is that they tolerate him.

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 20: Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after he scored a goal in the second period of their game against the Los Angeles Kings in Game Two of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 20, 2014 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 20: Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after he scored a goal in the second period of their game against the Los Angeles Kings in Game Two of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 20, 2014 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

5. Raffi Torres, San Jose Sharks

Torres gets a scintilla of sympathy for his injury issues in the last year, but that doesn’t erase the fact that he’s a suspension waiting to happen who’s administered more head shots than a yearbook photographer.

NHL--Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta and WWE wrestling superstar Rob Van Dam RVD.
NHL--Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta and WWE wrestling superstar Rob Van Dam RVD.

4. Patrick Kaleta, Buffalo Sabres 

Kaleta crosses the line more than a clumsy bowler, with the illegal hits and the head butting and the general disregard for opponents. He’s amassed nearly 20 games of suspension from the NHL, and the Sabres asked him to make “significant changes to his style.” He’s a free agent now, and getting character building press and recognition for being a LEGO enthusiast.   

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 11: Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild gets tripped up by Dmitrij Jaskin #23 of the St. Louis Blues on April 11, 2015 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Holly Jo Swan/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 11: Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild gets tripped up by Dmitrij Jaskin #23 of the St. Louis Blues on April 11, 2015 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Holly Jo Swan/NHLI via Getty Images)

3. Matt Cooke, Minnesota Wild

Every time you figured Cooke has become that dynamic fourth-liner and special teams player who, at the very least, endeared himself to his current fans, he does something like the Tyson Barrie hit and all the memories of the Marc Savard incident come flooding back. As the Minnesota City Paper headline stated after Cooke was bought out by the Wild: “DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON YOUR WAY OUT.”

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 18: Steve Ott #9 of the St. Louis Blues gets physical with Jordan Schroeder #10 of the Minnesota Wild in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 18, 2015 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 18: Steve Ott #9 of the St. Louis Blues gets physical with Jordan Schroeder #10 of the Minnesota Wild in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 18, 2015 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

2. Steve Ott, St. Louis Blues

At one point, a prototypical pest in the NHL: One that played on the edge and did some very good things outside the agitation game, like winning faceoffs. But now he’s a perfect storm of suck: a player whose antics are now longer justified by his contributions. It’s possible he’s hated more by Blues fans than the other 29 fan bases.

Philadelphia Flyers center Zac Rinaldo looks up as he is being held back by linesman Andy McElman and will be charged with a 10 minute game misconduct penalty during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Philadelphia. The Canucks won 4-0. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Philadelphia Flyers center Zac Rinaldo looks up as he is being held back by linesman Andy McElman and will be charged with a 10 minute game misconduct penalty during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Philadelphia. The Canucks won 4-0. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

1. Zac Rinaldo, Boston Bruins

There are very few things on which the hockey world can agree. Everything from shootouts to outdoor games to the fancy stats to Gary Bettman, our lives are filled each day with small wars fought over any and all subjects.

Which is why talking about Zac Rinaldo is such a breath of fresh air, because the overwhelming consensus is that he’s atrocious.

NHL fans viewed him as a stone-handed knucklehead inexplicably holding down a roster spot. Flyers fans called him an “embarrassment.” When the Bruins acquired him, columnists noted he was “not someone who’s made hockey teams for his ability to play hockey” and questioned what the hell the team was thinking.

Rinaldo says “changing for the better will happen,” so maybe he ends up endearing himself to Bruins fans and changing the minds of his league-wide critics.

Or he’s suspended after opening night. One of the two. 

That's our list ... who makes yours?

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