Friday, August 7, 2009

Hockey Hell voting: The Centers

Ok folks, time to get this thing started. This week we will take a look at 3 of the most unholy men ever to patrol NHL ice at the center position. Take a few moments to read over their list of qualifications, and cast your vote in the poll to the right. Voting will be open until next Friday.

If you're wondering what this is about, go to this post for an explanation of the rules.

"If you can't be good, at least be good at being bad."

Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers


- Was the captain and embodiment of the Broad Street Bullies mystique, leading a parade of brawlers which set the NHL's image back 50 years.

- Most famous play: sparking an international incident with a shameful slash to the ankle of Russian star Valeri Kharlamov in the '72 Summit Series.

- Only days later, butt-ended Czechoslovak captain Frantisek Pospisil in what the New York Times called "what might be the dirtiest play ever captured on film".

- In an NHL-USSR exhibition in 1976, Clarke contributed to an embarrassing display of goonery that led to the Soviet team abandoning the ice in protest.

- Canadian hockey hero (and Summit Series teammate) Paul Henderson once said to a reporter that dirty play was Clarke's "trademark".

- Fourth all-time in PIM for the Flyers, which is saying something.

- Once described his Flyers as "20 guys without brains".

- One of the longest-tenured GMs not to win a Cup -- only Bob Pulford has a worse record.

- Made perhaps the most damaging trade in NHL history, acquiring Eric Lindros in exchange for numerous players who would become the centerpiece of two Cup runs in Colorado. What's more, the arbitrator who awarded Lindros to the Flyers was the granduncle of none other than Todd Bertuzzi. Birds of a feather...

- Defended a medical staff that advised Lindros to board a plane instead of receiving treatment for a collapsed lung. If Clarke had had his way, Lindros probably would have died.

- Generally credited with causing Lindros to devolve from "The Next One" into a fuzzy-brained fourth liner.

- As GM of the '98 Olympic team, he tapped utility winger Rob Zamuner but passed on national legend Mark Messier.

- In that same year, he passed over veterans such as Gretzky, Yzerman and Bourque for the captain's "C"... instead giving the honor to his pet project with the Flyers, young Eric Lindros.

- Replaced Roger Nielson as coach... while Nielson was on a leave of absence for cancer treatments. Was quoted as saying, "We didn't tell him to go get cancer... he went goofy on us."

- Burned through 6 coaches in 5 seasons, blaming each for the Flyers' playoff failures.

- Gave Derian Hatcher a job, even after the rest of the NHL had wised up.

- Rated by as the 4th worst GM of all time... in any sport.

- Recently called the renaissance of hockey in Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago "embarrassing" for the league.

Dale Hunter, Washington Capitals/Quebec Nordiques


- Nickname: "La Petite Peste".

- Holds the league record for playoff PIM, and is second in regular season history. Taking both numbers together, he finished a mere 127 PIM behind Tiger Williams for the all-time title.

- Holds the franchise PIM record in both Washington and Colorado.

- Holds the record for playoff games without winning a Cup.

- But his most famous record of all: After committing one of the most egregious cheapshots in league history, Hunter received a precedent-setting 21-game ban from newly-minted commissioner Gary Bettman. The replay is still a Youtube favorite for all the wrong reasons.

- Known around the league as a butcher with his stick.

- Played a key role in the infamous Good Friday Brawl between Montreal and Quebec. Near the 7:00 mark of the video, you can see him pounding on his own brother.

- Then there's this.

- To acquire Sakic from Quebec, Washington traded away the draft pick that would become Joe Sakic.

- Of all career 1000-point scorers, Hunter took the longest to accomplish the feat.

- When the Caps retired his number in 2000, they presented him with a symbol of his accomplishments -- a penalty box from the old Capital Center.

- As a coach, Hunter was fined or suspended by the CHL a total of 4 times during a single span of 12 months.

- During that period, he was also arrested for DUI. The charges were dismissed on a technicality.

Ken Linseman, Bruins/Flyers/Oilers/Leafs


- One of the great nicknames in hockey: "The Rat". Bobby Clarke coined it.

- Wore #13.

- Played for both the Flyers AND the Bruins.

- Probably the first "super pest" to be recognized as such.

- Charged and convicted of assault for kicking a player in the forehead with his skate during junior-league play.

- Later, he was fined $200 for attempting to kick Montreal's Robert Picard during a scuffle. Yes, that's two kicking incidents in the same career. Eat your heart out, Chris Simon!

- Before going pro, he engaged in a high-stakes legal squabble with the WHA. The battle ended when his family filed a restraining order against the league, allowing him to play. This was the grounds for the WHA's raiding of under-20 players such as Gretzky, Messier and Gartner, an unprecedented blow to the NHL's talent pool.

- Called the Lady Byng trophy an "embarrassment".

- Particularly well known for running his mouth nonstop at opponents, but only occasionally dropping the gloves to back it up.

- Traded twice in one day.

- Fought Dean Kennedy under the stands at the Edmonton Coliseum. Kennedy required stitches because Linseman used his stick during the fight, and slammed Kennedy's head onto the concrete floor.

- Bit the the Oilers' Lee Fogolin in the face. Fogolin required a tetanus shot.

- No need to go into detail about what happened here.

- Yet another player known for his liberal use of the stick.

- Scored 3 series-clinching goals in 1984 alone, including the Cup-winner, making him the Claude Lemieux of his time.

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Nuuuuugs said...

Tough choice. I really wanted to go with Dale, but there's no disputing Bobby's record.

Unknown said...

Clarke is one of the biggest bastards in NHL history. I think you have to go with him.