Most fans like to claim that they love each and every player on their favourite team equally, and that they want all of them to succeed. But for the most part this is false. Every fan has players for whom they cheer louder, and on the contrary a player that they dislike. It could be for the role that player held for a rival, which is difficult to overcome. It is often based on performance or salary, or the ratio of the two. Maybe it is a player playing too many minutes or in the wrong position.
Either way, every fan has that player on their team for whom they would hardly shed a tear should a trade occur. The media, who are often fans themselves especially if they are covering one team, bemoan these players in articles and video segments. This only increases the hatred towards the player in question, and every misguided play becomes a bigger and bigger deal.
Canada has both passion and knowledge when it comes to hockey. This is why in Canada the media spotlight is the largest. It can be exceptional for a player who thrives in the environment; Canada is where hockey heroes are born. But on the other end of the spectrum, the spotlight is equally glaring on those who fail to meet expectations. It can often destroy those even as it builds up others.
Each Canadian team has a player in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Below is a list of those who are disliked in their respective cities despite sporting the home uniform. This list was painstakingly assembled by reading tweets, consulting message boards and yelling the names of these individuals in their respective cities and seeing whether or not there was a violent reaction.
David Desharnais- Montreal Canadiens
If you go by common knowledge, Quebecers are usually the fan favourites in Montreal. For a time this was the case with David Desharnais. The diminutive Habs forward provided one of the only reasons to remember a forgettable 2011-12 campaign. Alongside Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty he put up 60 points, gaining many supporters along the way.
That support has since diminished as Desharnais has quickly become one of the main targets of blame in Montreal. Nowhere else are the Canadiens more deep then at centre, a fact that makes the position its most scrutinised (other than Carey Price of course). Right now Desharnais holds a very illustrious spot on the squad, a place most fans assumed was reserved for sophomore Alex Galchenyuk.
Furthermore, a large part of the dislike for Desharnais has been a byproduct of his icetime, which is excessive considering what he has produced as of late. His performance would not seem to dictate the kind of time he is receiving when compared to some of the younger players on the team. This seems to have been rectified slightly this season but Desharnais still gets plenty of time on the powerplay, where he often fails to impress.
Dion Phaneuf- Toronto Maple Leafs
The “C” on Dion Phaneuf’s jersey has done nothing to shield him from immense fan criticism. Despite an inspired performance during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs nothing seems to get Dion in the good books of Toronto Maple Leaf fans.
Their displeasure with him usually stems from the frequency with which he makes massive defensive errors. Phaneuf’s defensive lapses make him an easy target for fans looking for excuse as they can be pinpointed with simplicity. They also often grace the TV screens from multiple unflattering angles.
However, Phaneuf may be more hurt by the team than they are by him. Toronto does not have very good defensive depth, an issue that requires Phaneuf to play more minutes than he should. For a player who plays his high energy style this just cannot be done effectively under these circumstances. This fact may result in the contract extension expected for Leafs management going unsigned.
Joe Corvo- Ottawa Senators
Senators fans haven’t even given this guy a chance with their organization. They are already incredibly disappointed that management signed the journeymen offensive defender. The Joe Corvo acquisition was largely lost by most in the turmoil that was the Daniel Alfredsson departure in combination with the Bobby Ryan trade. But for Sens fans it stood out for all the wrong reasons.
At 36, Corvo no longer brings the same offensive numbers, a deficit which comes coupled with defensive struggles. Furthermore, he is hardly a powerplay replacement for Sergei Gonchar and Ottawa fans would probably prefer to see youngster Jared Cowen get those minutes.
Corvo just doesn’t bring the types of intangables you look for in a depth defenseman. Unless he does something unexpected, Corvo will continue to be heavily disliked in the nation’s capital.
Mike Cammalleri- Calgary Flames
For the Calgary Flames and Mike Cammalleri it is more about symbolism than anything else. Cammalleri represents the present and the past, both of which Flame fans want to forget about. In Calgary it is all about the future, and for good reason. Sean Monahan has started the season in impressive form and represents a wave of young Flames ready to lead the team out of their current darkness.
Cammalleri, on the other hand, is an expensive reminder of past ambition, an ambition that ultimately cost the team a chance to move forward and rebuild the team as required. He also is a commodity that is very difficult to move. His 6 million cap hit renders him difficult to fit on a contending roster at the deadline, although it will be attempted.
The one positive is that the Cammalleri contract only has one more year on it. Furthermore, on the other end of his infamous in game trade is Rene Bourque, a player disliked by most Flames fans.
Devan Dubnyk- Edmonton Oilers
Potential. That is all they ever talk about in Edmonton, only now it is coupled with questions as to whether it will ever be realised. When assessing what went wrong, although nobody is sure anything has yet, talk mostly turns to the defense. Then it quickly turns to goaltending.
Devan Dubnyk has done little to quell the fears of Oilers fans early in the season that goaltending will once again prove to be the team’s undoing. Edmonton was unable to land Cory Schneider during the offseason and instead settled for another year of Dubnyk.
He has yet to win a game this season. Couple that with a 4.91 GAA and a .854 SV% and Oilers fans are considering giving their goaltender the full Pocklington treatment.
David Booth- Vancouver Canucks
In perhaps one of the most comical portions of the early season, newly christened Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella referred to David Booth as a “weird dude”. Because Tortorella is a completely normal guy. Well for Canucks fans it doesn’t his bizarre personality doesn’t really matter. What matters is his production on the ice.
Since joining the team he has failed to produce. Booth has largely been injured during his stay in Vancouver, but when he has been healthy his numbers are disappointing. When the team originally acquired him they were looking at his 20 plus goal ability with a lacklustre Florida Panthers team. Booth has yet to hit that number in three years as a Canuck.
Olli Jokinen- Winnipeg Jets
Four years ago Olli Jokinen was a brilliant signing for the Calgary Flames. Now he is an expensive disappointment for their Canadian brethren. At 34 Jokinen isn’t all that old. But it appears the decline in his game has already begun.
Long forgotten are the 90 points seasons for Jokinen. Last season he was prorated for 25 points. For a player in his 4.5 million dollar salary bracket those types of numbers are simply unacceptable. It is likely that he will be the squad’s third line centre by the end of the year. If he weren’t signed by current management he would have easily been a compliance buyout.
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Main photo credit: bridgetds via photopin cc