Friday, August 28, 2009

Hockey Hell Voting: The Defensemen

The Right Wing voting wasn't much of a competition, with Marty McSorley walking to an easy victory with over 82% of the vote. The Hockey Hell series rolls on, with this week posing perhaps the greatest challenge. This week you are to pick two (2) of the four no-goodniks below. It's not as easy of a challenge as it appears -- your choices will probably depend on your definition of "dirty" and whether you happen to be a Flyers or Devils fan.

If you're wondering what this series is all about, click here.

If you're wondering where Ulf Samuelsson is on this list, click here.

Bryan Marchment, 9 teams

- Notorious for taking players out at the knees, especially with knee-to-knee hits against more agile players.
- In his first 12 NHL seasons, he was suspended 13 times.

- A conservative list of stars whose careers were impacted by Marchment's cheapshots would include: Greg Adams, Glenn Anderson, Pavel Bure, Wendel Clark, Kevin Dineen, Mike Gartner, Paul Kariya, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Martin Rucinsky, Doug Weight, and Peter Zezel.
- He had a long-running feud with Mike Gartner, one of the league's classier players, which began in 1985 when he punctured Garnter's lung with a cheap hit.

Among his memorable cheapshots:

- Elbow on Mike Modano.

- Knee-on-knee with Nieuwendyk. (the Stars organization hates Marchment)

- Suspended 3 games for spearing Paul Kariya.

- Suspended 6 games for concussing Carolina's Shane Willis with an elbow.

- Hit Florida's Byron Ritchie from behind, shattering his collarbone and injuring him for an entire season.

- Part of an epic brawl against Wendel Clark as detailed by Down Goes Brown.

- In addition to being a cheapshot artist of the first class, he also agitated retaliation penalties.
- Proved too much of a headcase for Mike Keenan.
- Called Donald Brashear a "big monkey", then threatened to sue the league if it didn't establish clearer guidelines on racist speech, forcing the NHL to hire a full-time "sensitivity trainer".

- Like Chris Pronger below, Marchment never really acknowledged the severity of his actions. Instead he chose to blame the rest of the league for "unfairly" judging him, and frequently blamed his penchant for knee-to-knee hits on "instinct" instead of conscious choice.

- Ironically, he retired after blowing out his knee in a collision with Toronto's Jason Allison.

Chris Pronger, Whalers/Blues/Oilers/Ducks/Flyers

- As a rookie, Pronger was involved in a barroom brawl and was arrested for drunk driving.

- Early in his career, he was lambasted for immaturity and a lack of focus in the playoffs.

- It would be impossible in this format to catalogue his thousands of high hits, elbows, and other cheapshots. Youtube just doesn't have that kind of bandwidth.

- Demanded a trade out of Edmonton; it was later revealed that his wife, Lauren, didn't like the city. His trade to Anaheim conjured painful memories of the Gretzky trade, leaving an entire fanbase insulted and bitter.

- Was suspended in both the Conference Final and the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, for elbowing Tomas Holmstrom and Dean McAmmond, respectively.

- This clip speaks for itself.
- Most notorious moment: his skate-stomp on Ryan Kesler, which drew an 8-game suspension.

- Laid a vicious and unnecessary elbow on budding Devils star Zach Parise.

- Another elbow away from the play, this one on budding Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk. See the pattern?

- Rather than take responsibility for his obvious lack of respect for other players' safety, Pronger has consistently argued that he is simply too tall to play a clean game. Of course, this has never been a problem for tall guys like Larry Robinson and Zdeno Chara, lending Pronger an additional reputation as an excuse-maker.

- lists Pronger as the third-most hated player in the league (behind Avery and Crosby), calling him "quite easily the dirtiest player in the entire league".

- For the love of god, he just signed with the Flyers.
Scott Stevens, Devils/Blues/Captials

- His nickname, "Mr. Devil", says it all.

- As a rookie he was suspended for "biting and scratching" during a fight.
- At about the same time, he was named in a rape scandal which also involved Dino Ciccarelli.
- Suspended for his prominent role in the St. Patrick's Day Massacre brawl -- in which he fought none other than Dave Manson. No eye-gouging this time.
- Stevens' early career was defined by his knack for disrupting an entire franchise. His bloated contract with St. Louis, which cost them five first-round picks as compensation to Washington, contributed to the inflation of salaries leaguewide.

- When the Blues also poached Brendan Shanahan, they were forced by arbitration to send Stevens to New Jersey. Stevens refused to report, and the Devils locker room nearly fell apart in the ensuing power struggle. Three years later, he signed another enormous offer sheet with St. Louis, and was at the center of a tampering scandal which cost them $1.5 million and two first-round picks... and the Devils kept Stevens anyway.

- Stevens' bloated contract sheets with St. Louis were a factor in the labor issues which led to the 1995 lockout. Ironically, his Devils team took advantage of the shortened season to win a Stanley Cup.
- In that year's Finals, Stevens made his mark as a nightmarish open-ice hitter with a devastating, concussion-inducing run on Slava Kozlov.

- In the 2000 playoffs, he re-established the Devils' physical reputation by concussing Philadelphia's Daymond Langkow.

- Five games later, he sent Eric Lindros' career into a death-spiral with yet another open-ice hit to the head. It occurred on practically the same patch of ice as the Langkow hit.

- With less than 20 seconds left in a playoff game, Stevens crossed the ice to TKO Carolina's Shane Willis, leading to accusations that he was intentionally running players in order to injure them.

- In the very next game, Stevens pulverized Hall of Famer Ron Francis, leaving his victim to crawl noodle-legged back to the bench.

- Perhaps his most frightening hit was on Paul Kariya in the 2003 Finals. Once again, Stevens waited until a star player's attention was diverted at the blue line, and launched a headshot that knocked Kariya out cold.
- In 2001, The Sporting News ranked him the fifth-most feared player in NHL history.

Gary Suter, Flames/Blackhawks/Sharks

- Suter barely even qualified to play in the NHL, having been passed over in two drafts and then finally selected in the 9th round in 1984. At the time, he was lugging cases of beer for a living.
- Modeled himself after Chris Chelios, which says quite a lot about his aspirations.

- Was the league's most notorious "headhunter" for most of his career, establishing a reputation specifically for crosschecking opponents in the head.

- The most egregious example of this was his sickening crosscheck on Paul Kariya in 1998. This kept Kariya out of that year's Olympics and, some say, signalled the end of his time as a superstar.

- Just in case you thought the Kariya incident was isolated, here he is crosschecking Adam Deadmarsh in the head. Deadmarsh retired due to recurrent concussions.

- In the 1987 Canada Cup, he laid a vicious two-handed chop to the face of Andrei Lomakin.

- Hit Wayne Gretzky from behind during the Canada Cup championship in 1991, sidelining the Great One for the rest of the tournament. The ensuing back spasms eventually led to the decline and end of Gretzky's career.

- Later in the tournament, he committed the key turnover to end a USA rally against Canada and caused the Americans to be eliminated.

- He was responsible for the ACL injury which altered Pavel Bure's career and slowed down one of the NHL's most entertaining players.

- His general lack of respect for other players was evident even in situations in which he got off scot-free.

- At least one site calls him "the dirtiest player to play for Calgary, one of the dirtiest players ever to play in the NHL, and quite possibly the dirtiest player to ever lace the skates up for Team USA."

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