Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta remains suspended this week, ineligible to return to action until next Sunday after his dangerous hit from behind on Brad Richards. The incident led to renewed debate over whether Kaleta now deserves the title of the NHL’s most despicable player.
There’s not exactly a shortage of competition. Whether it’s Matt Cooke, Raffi Torres, or Daniel Carcillo, there are plenty of players these days who can leave fans tearing their hair out. Whether you’d prefer to call them agitators, pests, flat-out dirty, or just stains on the game, chances are you’re not alone in screaming at your TV whenever their smirking faces appear.
But this post isn’t about them. After all, each of today’s NHL villains is simply following in the footsteps of those who came before them. So today, let’s pay tribute to the previous generation. These 10 players may no longer be in the NHL, but their legacies helped lay the groundwork for players like Patrick Kaleta, who make the game what it is today.
1. Sergio Agüero: The Quiet Neighbor
Triangle Blog Brother/Rankonia Writer Emeritus Chris Ryan nominates Agüero, who is this week’s hero:
"Are we underrating Sergio Agüero? He isn't as prone to fireworks or setting off fireworks as Mario Balotelli and he doesn't have a deep, unquenchable love of golf like Carlos Tévez, he just scores goals. Alex Ferguson called Manchester City the noisy neighbors. But the only time there is a noise surrounding the Argentine, nicknamed "Kun" (King), is when he scores. And what a sound he created Sunday.
Dale Hunter has radically altered the Washington Capitals.
He’s slashed the ice time of the club’s franchise forward, Alexander Ovechkin. He’s taken a team that used to be the exemplar of run-and-gun hockey in the modern NHL and converted it into a buttoned-down, defense-first bunch.
Hockey’s Three Stars of Comedy is a monthly feature that will recognize the three NHL personalities from around the league who produced the most comedic fodder for fans. It will appear every month during the regular season, unlike Eric Staal.
The Honorable Mentions
Craig Smith, Nashville Predators
Experts agree that there are three unbreakable records in hockey: Glenn Hall’s 502 consecutive games played in goal, Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 career points, and Patrick Stefan’s “worst choke job while all alone in front of an empty net.”
While he didn’t quite reach Stefan’s level, Smith came close against the Maple Leafs. Alone and just inches outside of the crease, Smith managed to not only miss the net but somehow fire the puck into the upper deck. He then went to the bench and delivered one of the best “Please take the camera off me so I can try to swallow my own tongue” looks of all time.