Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hockey Hell: Inaugural Inductions

This week the US Hockey Hall of Fame released the names of four honorees for 2008 -- Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and Cammi Granato. Better selections could not have been made; these four players represented the best of USA Hockey over the past two decades, both individually and as key players on Olympic and World Cup teams.

There could be no better time than this to announce the inaugural Hockey Hell Class of 2008. The purpose of Hockey Hell is to recognize those players whose are the true villains of the game. In hockey there’s a code of honor that transcends the rulebook, and fortunately the vast majority of players respect that code… those who don’t are sent to Hockey Hell. Qualification is based upon dirtiness, notoriety, famous cheap shots, “pest” factor, and my own personal disdain.

Without further ado, I introduce the 1st Line of players to be inducted into Hockey Hell:

C - Sean Avery
No player in the "New NHL" could be considered a better candidate for Hell membership than Sean Avery. In fact, he might be the most despicable athlete currently competing in ANY sport. From his lame on-ice antics to his un-hockeylike addiction to the tabloid limelight, he has a well-earned reputation as a first-class douchebag. If there was a trophy that was the opposite of the Lady Byng, it would be the Lady Avery.

- Though Avery played half a season with the '02 Wings, they decided to leave his name off the Cup.
- In 2002, the Kings traded star defenseman Matheiu Schneider to the Red Wings for Avery, Maxim Kuznetsov, and two draft picks (the better of which produced Jeff Tambellini, who at age 24 is looking like a first-round bust). Avery did his part to ensure that the Los Angeles franchise remained firmly at the bottom of the NHL toilet bowl while handing the Wings a star player they didn't even need.
- During the lockout, Avery played for the Motor City Mechanics alongside fellow power-tools Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher. Sadly, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller chose not to make a movie lampooning this nightmare of a franchise.
- In a sign of douchebag solidarity, Avery rushed to Jeremy Roenick's defense during the 2005 preseason by stating that "French guys" wearing visors were "running around and playing tough and not backing anything up." Avery later appeared in a movie, as a Ranger no less, making anti-francophone comments toward Maurice Richard.
- Following on the aforementioned incident, Avery was accused of calling Georges Laraque a "monkey".
- Less than a month later Avery was fined by the league for perhaps the most comical attempt at diving I have ever seen. At this point Hockey Hell preliminary screening forms began to arrive in his mailbox.
- Avery was kicked off the Kings. Yes, kicked off the KINGS.
- As a Ranger, he was overwhelmingly voted the "most hated" player in the league.
- The league needed to amend a rule in the middle of the playoffs just to keep his childish antics in check.
- Astonishingly, Avery has claimed that he wishes to be a fashion editor (!!!) after retiring from hockey. He has cultivated a jetset personality which has seen him grace the pages of "People" and "Vogue".
- He has been dumped by Rachel Hunter and Elisha Cuthbert, in both cases after they realized that he was not Mark Messier.
- He is now a member of the Dallas Stars.
- His headshot photo sums it all up. (someone help me out with a link)

LW - Chris Simon
Crossing the line from "pest" to "psychopath" is an easy thing to do, especially when you're a 6'3" Indian with a history of alcoholism. Chris Simon is a classic case of boom-or-bust, having nearly transcended into legitimacy with a 29-goal campaign during the height of Dead Puck. But a series of ugly infractions cost Simon the gains he had made, both in terms of professional advancement and in fan sympathy.

- Played in 7 different cities.
- Before ever playing a game, was involved in the Ultimate Asswipe Trade along with Eric Lindros, Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall and Mike Ricci.
- Dropped the N-word on Mike Grier... granted, in retaliation to a taunt about his Native American heritage.
- Suspended for nearly an entire season's worth of games, in 8 different incidents.
- Suspended 25 games for intentionally slashing Ryan Hollweg in the face.
- Suspended 30 games for slew-footing and then stepping on the leg of fellow douchebag Jarkko Ruutu.
- Will finish his career playing in Russia, having left the NHL in total disgrace.

RW - Claude Lemieux
Perhaps the most despised player in the history of the game, the Lesser Lemieux pushed the boundaries of dirty hockey. Only the rare athlete -- a Pete Rose or Bill Romanowski -- combines unsportsmanlike conduct with a high level of play as well as Claude the Fraud. In a sense, he is like a Bizarro Mario.


- Players in his draft class (1983) included Bob Probert, Esa Tikkanen, Mark Messier, and Stu Grimson.
- By far the most skilled forward in his Hockey Hell class, Lemieux finished his career with 4 Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe trophy, and the #8 ranking in all-time playoff goals. The fact that he was a forgettable player in the regular season suggests he was going slightly less than 100% prior to the month of May.
- Helped the Canadiens to their first Cup in the post-WHA era, eliminating four teams (Bruins, Whalers, Rangers, Flames) who had more-deserving fanbases. During the Finals he bit Calgary's Jim Peplinski on the finger.
- Was traded to the Devils (!) for Sylvain Turgeon, who scored 14 goals in two seasons with the Habs.
- Once asked Eric Desjardins if the "C" on his sweater stood for "selfish".
- Was perhaps the most central figure in the seminal Avs/Wings clashes of the late 1990s, playing a very clear "villain" role in a monumental clash between class and douchebaggery.
- During a 1995 Finals game, concussed Vyacheslav Kozlov with a sucker-punch to the side of the head. Days later, he laid out one of the biggest cheapshots of the 1990s with a hit from behind on Kris Draper that required plastic surgery to make Mark Hamill cringe. This was the trigger that led to the greatest Dino Ciccarelli quote of all time: "I can't believe I shook his friggin' hand". When Dino's appalled at your lack of class, you're really scraping rock bottom.
- Was a member of the Douchebag Dream Team (aka the 1996 Colorado Avalanche) along with Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Mike Keane, and Marc Crawford.
- Anyone bothering to read this blog already knows about the Turtle incident. It pretty much speaks for itself.
- An ill-advised appearance on the TV show "Pros vs. Joes" led to Lemieux hooking and flagrantly high-sticking an amateur during a one-on-one drill.
- Without question the most evil-looking player in NHL history.

Next week: Defensemen and a goalie in the Inaugural Class.

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Katie O'D said...

Always great to find another Bruins blog! ONE problem here, though...where's Ulf Samuelsson? He should top the list of all Bruins fans. I think Don Cherry puts it best:
Anyway, let's get stoked for a (hopefully) wicked good season!

Tom said...

Ha... funny you should mention Ulfie. Check out Part 2.

Tom said...
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