NHL: Five Teams That Fans Love To Hate

LOVE TO HATE: The Boston Bruins are among the top teams that fans love to hate including some of their players like Brad Marchand

BY JEFF ANGUS

There are a lot of reasons to dislike an NHL team – it could be because the team is a close rival of your favourite team. It could be that team is a very successful franchise and beats up on your team with consistency. That team’s roster may feature a player or two (or three) that you dislike. Whatever the reason, we all love to hate certain NHL franchises for a number of reasons. Here are five of the most hated teams in hockey (and in a few of the cases, hated could be a synonym for respected or feared).

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs (-150, 5.5)
Where else would we start? The Leafs are finally starting to taste success this season, thanks in large part to fantastic coaching from Randy Carlyle. Their roster boasts a lot of truculence (Colton Orr, Mark Fraser, and so on), but also a lot of skill. James Reimer has been great in goal for the Leafs, Dion Phaneuf has anchored an improved defensive group (addition by subtraction with the Luke Schenn trade), and the Leafs are receiving balanced scoring from a number of their forwards.

WHY THEY ARE HATED
Well, because it’s Toronto. The Centre of the Universe, as Toronto refers to itself, is a hotbed for hockey fanatics. And the more fans a team has, there will be a higher number of crazy and annoying fans. It also doesn’t help that people from coast to coast in Canada are inundated with Leafs news and notes on TSN, Sportsnet, and pretty much every other channel on TV. But this year, the Leafs are finally deserving of (some of) the attention.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars (+120, 5.5)
The Canucks have developed into one of the best teams in the league under GM Mike Gillis. They are skilled and tough, and came within one game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. They are led by funny-man Roberto Luongo in goal, and the consistently spectacular Sedin twins up front. How could anybody hate this team?

WHY THEY ARE HATED
Ryan Kesler. Alex Burrows. Max Lapierre. Kevin Bieksa. Need any more reasons? The Canucks are not short on self-confidence, and they have several players on their roster who love to walk the line between clean and dirty. Imagine if they had acquired Steve Ott at the trade deadline last year (the team was heavily interested in the agitator at the time)?

And the Canucks have made a habit of beating up on division/conference rivals over the past few years, and nothing makes fans angrier than playing – and losing – to a team with an edge.

A face only a mother could love:

BOSTON BRUINS
Boston Bruins to the Northeast Division -227
The Big, Bad B’s are able to win games in a variety of ways. They have one of the best goaltenders in the league in Tuukka Rask. Their defense is big and strong, and pretty talented, too. Up front, they are one of the deeper teams in the league, boasting an unmatched combination of size and skill.

WHY THEY ARE HATED
Like the Canucks, the Bruins have made it a habit of beating up on division/conference rivals in recent years. However, unlike the Canucks, they actually beat up said divisional rivals. Mike Komisarek still has Milan Lucic’s knuckles tattooed onto his forehead. From Shawn Thornton, Lucic, and Adam McQuaid using their fists, to Brad Marchand using whatever means necessary, the Bruins have found a way to intimidate opposing players unlike any other team in the league.

Marchand doing his best submarine impression:

Oh, and their former starting goaltender, once the darling of the NHL, revealed himself to be a lot more than just a pro athlete last year. Holding different political/religious beliefs are fine, but keep them to yourself (especially if you end up throwing your teammates under the bus because of it).

BUFFALO SABRES
Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs (-150, 5.5)
The Sabres may seem like an odd team to hate, but bear with me for a bit. They have really done a great job over the past year or so to really increase their ‘hate-ability.’

WHY THEY ARE HATED
We all hate it when teams try to build a winner through free agency (unless it is our favourite team, of course). The Sabres took a few home run swings during the summer of 2011, signing Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino to massive contracts. Ehrhoff has been a good addition to the team, but he is still signed for seven more years after this one (and his cap hit remains at $4 million throughout). Leino is contributing about as much this season as he has during his entire tenure with the Sabres (eight goals in 71 games last year, or over $500,000 per goal), and he hasn’t played a single game due to injury.

The Sabres also traded for Ott last summer, and he joined a roster featuring arguably the most hated player in the NHL – notorious agitator/cheapshot artist Patrick Kaleta. Ryan Miller has also made a habit of calling out opposing players and his teammates in the media. And we all know that players love being criticized by their own teammates under the public eye!

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins (-200, 5.5)

Who could hate the Penguins? Well many people from the state of Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh could give you a few reasons.

WHY THEY ARE HATED
Winning breeds jealousy/envy. People hated Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers because they were so good for so many years. Things are different in a salary cap league, but the Penguins have done a good job of maintaining their status as one of the best teams in the league. Sidney Crosby has had a lot of detractors over the years, mostly because of how good a hockey player he is. Crosby also plays the game with more of an edge than Gretzky ever did. He drops the gloves from time to time. He yaps to the refs and opposing players. He competes hard. And people aren’t used to seeing a “skill” player play this way.

Evgeni Malkin, like Crosby, is an all world talent. There isn’t much he can’t do on the ice. However, that also involves throwing elbows, slew foots, and dishing out dangerous hits. Malkin is generally a clean player, but if he gets angered, look out.

Oh, and then there is Matt Cooke, the achillies-tearing, elbow-throwing, career-ending ‘former’ cheapshot artist. Cooke may not have meant to stomp on Erik Karlsson last week, but he will never earn the benefit of the doubt for anything again.

Did I leave any teams out? Share your thoughts below.