Determining the NHL’s Most Hated Team

By
Updated: December 5, 2013
Bettman

Welcome back to Peculiar Side of Sports.  Every so often something in sports perplexes me, and I just hate not knowing something.  So, I do what any normal, sane sports fan does – I search ad nauseam for the answer by any means necessary.  The good news is that I take all my hard work and relay the results to you.  If you are a fan of Sports History, check out the other articles I have written – “Sports History” covering virtually all major sports.

Today we have an interesting topic that, when first presented, should invoke an immediate response. Who is the mosted hated man in the NHL?  What’s that, we’ve already featured him in the picture with this article? Okay that was easy.  Now onto another question that can spawn real debate.

Which is the NHL’s most hated team?

To get to the bottom of this, we came up with six teams that we feel are frontrunners for the title:  Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins. Each team is hated by a large percentage of hockey fans but for very different and unique reasons.  We will present you with a case as to why each team could be considered the most hated, and then we’ll leave it up to you.

At the conclusion you will find the polls asking you to determine who you believe is the most hated.  We encourage you to add your own comments below and we will include some of them in our follow-up article revealing the “winner”.

 

Montreal Canadiens – “It’s all about history and cups – and their fans like to remind you of that!” (This Section Written by Resident Detroit Red Wings Fan, Mike Kovacs)

Why are they so hated?

The Montreal Canadiens are associated with two things: winning and history.  The team is not only the oldest in the NHL, but is the winningest.  The Habs have won 24 Stanley Cups spread out over their 104 years of existence.  Most awe-inspiring are the three decades that they dominated – the 50s, 60s and 70s.  In the 50′s they won six times, four in the 60s and six in the 70s.  The team has won the Cup twice since those runs, once in 1985-86 and again in 1992-93.  In fact, it is widely believed that the 50s and 70s Canadiens teams were two of the most dominant in the history of the game, along with the phenomenal Islanders and Oilers teams of the 80s.

But being regarded as the most successful franchise in hockey reason enough to be considered the most hated?  Well, it helps.  Teams who have won the most are almost always amongst the most hated as well.  Consider the Lakers and Celtics, Cowboys and Steelers, Yankees, Red Sox and Cardinals in baseball and Manchester United in soccer – all hated for the most part. That is just part of the territory.  Are there teams that are the exception?  Possibly the Green Bay Packers come to mind, but that’s another discussion entirely as they have size (being in Wisconsin) on their side.

If we were to poll which fan base is the most hated, as unfair a judgement as it might be, Habs fans would certainly be near or at the top if only because of their affiliation with the most winning team (oh and because they are never afraid to remind you of that fact).  Because of that they have created an unbelievable number of rivalries with other teams, which feeds animosity and makes the team such a target.  Consider the Bruins, Leafs, Sabres, Rangers, Sens and virtually every arena they visit.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs – “History and that blasted media empire – can the media ever stop analyzing everything about them?”

Why are they so hated?

The Leafs claim to play at the centre of the Hockey universe, or something like that.  Well they do play at the centre of the Canadian media universe with corporate headquarters for TSN, Sportsnet, CBC and virtually every major newspaper in Canada located in Toronto.  As a result, the coverage they receive in the national hockey media is greater than any other team. The Leafs try to capitalize this by naming themselves “Canada’s Team” and coming up with catchphrases like “The Passion that Unites Us All”.  Fans of other Canadian teams will tell you that this just makes them sick.

When playing Toronto, even at home, teams on the West Coast (see the Vancouver Canucks) are forced into 4pm local start times, inconveniencing local fans, so that the Leafs game remains at the prime 7pm EST timeslot on the East Coast.  God forbid that Leaf fans have to watch their team as the second game on Hockey Night’s weekly Saturday Double Header.

Every move they make is over analyzed and takes over coverage of shows like Sportscentre and Connected, driving fans of opposition batty.  Add to that the fact that the team gets this coverage despite basically being irrelevant in the pantheon of NHL Contenders since the original six era (yet their fans still say that this is their year, and the networks hype up their chances every year), and you’ve got a recipe for hatred.

 

Boston Bruins – “Big. Bad. Bruins.”

Why are they so hated?

Look, winning teams are hated, and the Bruins have been highly successful in recent years.  They have defeated teams like the Canadiens, Leafs, Rangers, Canucks, Flyers, and Penguins in recent playoff series.  These are some of the biggest fanbases in hockey, and so yes, part of the reason they are hated by so many is that the Bruins have had great success against teams cheered for by a large number of hockey fans in recent years.

But it goes deeper than that.  I mean we don’t have the Blackhawks on the list, and they have won more than Boston in recent years.  No, the Bruins are hated for doing things in a smug way.  Head coach Claude Julien always seems to be whining about the officiating or other teams’ diving, and he’s joined in this by players like Brad Marchand, a frequent diver who seems oblivious to the hypocrisy around criticizing opponents for that.

On top of that the Bruins have been involved in a number of high profile incidents.  Milan Lucic running over Ryan Miller, their fans chanting “faker” at Mason Raymond as he lied on the Boston ice with fractured vertebrae, the Max Pacioretty stanchion incident, Tim Thomas shunning a White House visit, and the racist tweets of Bruins fans following a goal by Joel Ward which eliminated the team from the Playoffs in 2012.

How about watching your team play the Bruins on TV.  If you use NHL Center Ice, you notice that many games against the Bruins feature a feed from NESN with Jack Edwards on commentary.  Hey, we get it, many Bruins fans love Jack; but when you are a fan of the opponent, his biased commentary is grating and our opinion he’s the biggest homer commentator in the NHL.

Lastly, lets not forget Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of the team who many see as one of the biggest “hawks” in the NHL Board of Governors and one of the biggest voices pushing the owners in the last two lockouts.

 

Philadelphia Flyers – “Broad Street Bullies -  still”

Why are they so hated?

Dating back 40 years, the Flyers have been seen as representing the ugly side of hockey.  The whole Broad Street Bully mentality with dirty play, bench clearing brawls, and the way they use violence as a strategy to win games is loved by some, but is also hated by many others.  They are very much a polarizing franchise.

Add in the fact that Ed Snyder and Paul Holmgren are not afraid to throw money at any free agent who crosses their path, often with disastrous results and this certainly doesn’t help matters.  Bobby Clarke, who epitomized Broad Street hockey, was even a figurehead for the organization for many years after his playing days.

Lastly, put this team in a city that is known for having the worst fans in sports and the Flyers inspire venom throughout the league.

 

Vancouver Canucks – “A great acting job”

Why are they so hated?

Over the last few years the Canucks have developed a reputation as the biggest divers in the league.  Players like Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, and the Sedins have become known as much for their reputations for embellishment as they are for their scoring exploits.  In the case of Burrows and former NHL referee Stephane Auger, we’ve even seen a ref take things into his own hands and attempt to get revenge for being embarrassed by a dive.  On top of that Burrows and Kesler are your classic chirpers; the type of irritating players who are always running their mouth out there on the ice.

Add to this the never ending Luongo/Schneider controversy which left us all breathing a sigh of relief when the team finally ended the saga at the 2013 draft, as well as a city that gave us one of the biggest hockey riots ever after losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the newly hired head coach in John Tortorella and we have a team that is sure to get 9.5s and above for both their dives and their ability to inspire hatred.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins – “How many first overall picks can one team not named the Oilers get?”

Why are they so hated?

We’ve already established that teams who win are hated and the Penguins have a recent cup as well as seeming to always be at the top of the league.  They are also a media favorite, playing in numerous Winter Classic games and getting plenty of coverage on NBC.   Their best player, Sidney Crosby, is the poster boy of hockey, and treated that way.

Yet the presence of Crosby inspires hate.  He’s accused of being a whiner, a diver, and of getting favoured treatment from the league officials.  Heck, many believe that the only reason he is in Pittsburgh is that the NHL or Gary Bettman rigged the 2005 Draft Lottery to ensure that the world’s next generational player was selected by the Penguins, who desperately needed a superstar with the team in major financial peril at the time.  The empty arenas prior to Crosby being selected has only helped the perception that the fanbase is full of bandwagon fans that have only followed hockey since 2005.  True or not, it doesn’t matter, thats the perception out there.

Add to that the fact that the team had two first overall picks and five straight top  5 draft picks from 2003-2007 and many see the team as being merely lucky to be built this way.

As we’ve said, winning can inspire hate, or jealousy… sometimes its hard to tell which is which.

 

Vote, tell us who you hate, and feel free to leave a comment as to why.  We’ll feature the best when we name the winner.

Is your hated team one of the other 24?  Write them in the Comments.

[poll id="92"]

 

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47 Comments

  1. Brian Crocker

    December 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Detroit REALLY needed to be on this list. Most smug and insufferable fans in hockey, “Hockeytown” is annoying, andthe octopus thing is stupid.

    • Red Wings

      December 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      LoLuMad

      • Al

        December 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm

        Detroit only needs to be on this list for the same reason most of these teams are….a history of winning. With that being said, the Pens are easily my most hated team. But then again, I’m a Wings fan.

  2. Jay Willy

    December 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Only one Western Conference team and you pick the perennial post-season choking Canucks? How about the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, or the Red Wings?

    In order to be properly hated, you have to either have had a lot of success with arrogant players and/or play hockey in an extremely obnoxious manner.

    For me, it’s between the Hawks and the Pens, Pens with the slight edge. Flyers are a distant third. Love the Bruins, am completely neutral towards the Canucks. As for the Leafs/Canadiens, they’re both pretty much irrelevant. Last time either has made it to a SCF was 20 years ago.

    • THATguy

      December 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Uh… Detroit is in the East now.

    • Amy

      December 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Arrogant players on the Hawks? Who? Genuinely curious as to the outsider’s perception of the team. I get that Shaw might be a pest on ice, but he has no ego at all. Dude lives for the team.

      • joanne

        December 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        Pest???….he’s a little more than a pest!!

  3. JMONEY

    December 5, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Leafs for sure. Mostly because of their fans. Probably the most band wagon jumping, nonsense spouting, delusional people in proefessional sport. The media doesn’t help though. Your like to hate anyone if you have to hear about them on every sports channel, for the first ten minutes of every show. Every loss is someone elses fault, and every win is a sure path to the cup.

    Signed,

    A habs fan.

    • GT

      December 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      How are Leafs “band wagoners”. If anything they are the complete opposite, loyal fans despite 40 years without a cup and very few seasons with any deep playoff runs. The Leafs are the only team that sells out every single game every single year even when they are one of the worst teams in the league. Say what you want about the Leafs and Leaf fans, but we are certainly not band wagoners.

      • Ben Kerr, Admin

        December 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        Firstly, how many of those seats are sold to corporations?

        As for the Bandwagoning, just listen to the fans and media, a two game win streak is “we’re on the way to the cup;” and a two game losing streak is “fire the coach, trade everyone.”

        • GT

          December 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm

          While I agree with your statements about the media and fans, I still don’t see that as band wagoning. Band wagoners to my understanding are people who don’t care about a team until they start doing well and then they jump on the band wagon and act like they are fans. The Leafs are a center of a attention all the time, regardless of how well or poorly they are doing.

          • Ben Kerr, Admin

            December 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

            Living near Toronto… I find that there are a lot of legit fans who care about the Leafs 24/7, 365 no doubt about that…. however there is also a huge portion who pretend not to care when they lose and who jump up and down and pull that Leaf Jersey out of the closet when they win.

            That is probably true of all teams… but when your fanbase is so large, it also contains a big number of bandwagon fans.

        • THATguy

          December 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm

          You also left out how Toronto has an opening ceremony seemingly EVERY Saturday. Leafs fans might see it as a good thing, but I can tell you the rest of Canada (at least) sees it as presumptuous and boring.

  4. shaun

    December 5, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I think you need to read up on how timezones work. Vancouver games are second of the double header at 10pm eastern time, thats 7pm local vancouver time. Not 4pm.

    • Ben Kerr, Admin

      December 5, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Not when they play Toronto…..

      That was the point… when the Leafs play in Vancouver the game is played at 4pm Local Time. Has happened the last 5 times the Leafs have played a Saturday in Vancouver, if not more.

      • Reddit

        December 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

        Are you blaming the Leafs for a decision that’s made entirely by the TV networks?

        Classic Habs fan logic…

        • Ben Kerr, Admin

          December 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm

          Do people hate the Leafs because they get special treatment from Networks? Yes, the answer is yes.

          Also two of the biggest sports networks in Canada… their owners are also the two biggest owners of shares of the Leafs.

        • Albert

          August 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

          A Leaf fan criticizing a Habs fan for lack of logic? ROFLMAO! Man that is really good ..talk about the pot calling the kettle black.Is there truly anything more illogical than a Laff (wait till next year)fan? I live in Toronto and even I know how pathetic the Leafs are

  5. Ian

    December 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    How did the LA Kings avoid this list? They dove their way to a cup, lead by their dirty captain Dustin Brown?

    • Ben Kerr, Admin

      December 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      We were limited by the length of the poll, all 30 teams have a rival or some hate.

      We will take this (and the Detroit comments above) as write in votes.

    • Vance

      December 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      WHAT!? Brown is a solid player who makes plays happen, scores goals, and busts heads when he needs to. Also, it was about damn time the Kings won the cup.

    • Yawndinger

      May 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Drew doughty is the biggest beauty in the league. His hair is great in warm ups and he’s always for the boys

  6. Tim

    December 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Can we please stop with the whole “Philly has the worst fans in sports” bullshit. Aside from the fact that it’s an enormously subjective statement, why do LA and Oakland get no nods for this? They’ve actually KILLED people. What did we do? Oh, that’s right, we booed Santa… 40 YEARS AGO. No one mentions that he was Santa was shitfaced. What’s that, Dodger fans? You put a guy in the ICU for months because he was wearing a Giants’ jersey in your ballpark? That’s okay, Philly booed fucking Santa Claus.

    • Ben Kerr, Admin

      December 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      When it comes to hating teams… perception is reality.

      Hate is not rational, it is not based on facts. Philly is seen as having the worst fanbase in sports. That isn’t something new that we just came up with today, but a perception that is well developed over years.

    • Will

      December 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Philly fans STILL have a tendency to boo during inopportune times. They booed a PSA about cancer treatment because it featured opposing players, the Blackhawks’ cup presentation and Bryzgalov while he was in the middle of a rough streak.
      Players like Zac Rinaldo don’t help their cause, either.

      • joanne

        December 24, 2013 at 4:53 pm

        I’ve been to opposing teams venues, “inappropriate booing” happens every where….but you keep drinking the media grape juice!!

    • Alek

      December 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Did you forget about the Flyer fan that killed the Rangers fan last year after the Winter Classic?

    • joanne

      December 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      AMEN Tim….AMEN!!

  7. Marty

    December 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Look at those votes, Boston wins again! Suck it nerd!

    • Jon

      December 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      O’DOYLE RULES

  8. Vance

    December 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Ducks. The whole west can agree on one thing: Ducks suck.

  9. Bobby

    December 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I’m a Steelers fan and even I hate the Pens. Crosby is such an annoying little thing. I’m relatively new to hockey and fell in love with the Bruins, as a result I have a strong rivalry feeling towards the Blackhawks but I can’t say I dislike them. They’re a classy bunch.

    • Nate

      December 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Boston contains two of the dirtiest, most classless sports organizations in the world in the Bruins and Patriots. Being a fan of either of these teams nullifies any claim to Pittsburgh fandom.

      The Hawks I can agree with. Classy organization and extremely fun to watch.

  10. Sheike

    December 5, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Devils from the New Jersey players OK bubba but the NJ fans biggest jabroni loud mouth raisin balls dumb son of the ****** in whole NHL

  11. Christian

    December 5, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    How can you possibly say Philly has the worst fans? There attendance rates are always consistent, there loyalty is die-hard, and they only boo when they should. Claude Giroux said when they were on a losing skid that is was right for them to boo at the product that was on the ice. The team that I vote for is the Canadiens. This is for one reason: they boo opposing players who are from Quebec simply because theyre not on their team. Its not like they chose to go there, most were drafted or offered more money. Should you be content that a player of your region is productive. Get off your high horse you damn french cowards.

      • Joe

        December 6, 2013 at 1:49 am

        ******* ******, go ***** yourself with that list. Most of that stuff was done before you or I were born. How about the multiple stabbings and fatal beatings that happen at Dodger/Raiders/49ers games
        http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2012/1/19/2718352/more-horrible-fan-behavior-and-its-not-philadelphia

        or Braves fans who don’t show up to regular season games, then throw stuff on the field in the playoffs because they don’t agree with a call, or Canadiens fans booing literally every French-Canadian player who doesn’t sign with them, or Montreal rioting after playoff loses, or the Red Sox fans who fought each other at their championship parade

        http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/11/05/two-men-charged-in-brutal-fight-after-red-sox-parade/

        or assaults in Baltimore

        http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-06-07/news/bs-md-orioles-reaction-20130606_1_orioles-fans-gregory-fleischman-greg-bader

        “Philadelphia fans are the worst in sports” is the most played out, overhyped stereotype. Just stop

        • Ben Kerr, Admin

          December 6, 2013 at 2:30 am

          I didn’t write the GQ list that ranks them number one… but that doesn’t even matter.

          As I said earlier… we are talking about the most hated team in Hockey.

          Hate isn’t about logic, or facts, or reasoned arguments…. its passionate, and sometimes illogical.

          Perception is reality… and the perception, widely held (ESPN, GQ, BR, and numerous other sites is that Philadelphia has the worst fans in sports). True or not, it doesn’t matter, its the perception of most people and a reason for hate.

          Just like “booing literally every French-Canadian player who doesn’t sign with them” isn’t close to the truth either… but its a perception generally held by the public, so fine, use that as a reason to hate the team.

          • conor

            December 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

            Im an avid flyers fan but its definitely true that we have the reputation of being terrible fans, whether it’s true or not is besides the point for the purpose of the article. It was a good read, watching everyone bitch about stereotypes you have no control over is a little ridiculous. Oh and FUCK THE PENS

  12. Bruce

    December 5, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Canuncks,after over 42 years they have never won the cup.News of the female bathroom for the Sedin sisters may be true,I dont know.My friends Mom at 90 years passed away hating the Canucks because they always blow it,she cheered them on 41 years till Boston beat them and they without even scoring a goal in game 7 2011.She died shortly later.As for the rioting,I dont know what to consider,its not like Vancouver came close that night and no ref can be blamed that night.

  13. Chris Spieglan

    December 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

    My criteria for hating a team in the NHL is if they are a dirty team or employ someone whose only purpose is to injure a member of the opposition.

    The Vancouver Can-sucks are #1 in my book. 
    The Phoenix Cryotes are #2.
    What do they have in common? They both employed Raffi Torres.

    Any team that employs either him or Todd Bertuzzi have no business being in the NHL.

  14. Rick

    December 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    eh i guess i can see why the Bruins are widely hated. but i surely didn’t expect them to beat the Penguins.

    also, in my opinion, the only “high profile incidents” that were shameful were the Ward tweets and maybe Lucic/Miller.

    from the stands, even on the replay, it was impossible to see that anything had happened to Raymond. players will collide head on at 25mph, fly through the air and smash down onto the ice, only to hop up and get back in the play. to see Raymond go down after such an innocent looking play, AND belong to a team as notorious for diving as the Nucks…

    Chara/Pacioretty, obviously a scary, horrible occurrence. but it was completely unintentional, and the fact that Montreal police almost got involved is laughable. anywhere else on the ice and that play would’ve just been interference.

    finally, an athlete snubbing the White House visit has happened so many times it’s not even funny. the only reason people make such a big deal out of Thomas’ incident is because it’s Boston, and people are predisposed to hate them, apparently.

  15. Daniel

    May 1, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I think a lot of people hate the Rangers (including the NHL referees, Bettman, and pretty much most other NHL staff) but I can’t fathom why. The Rangers get so many phantom penalties called against them, yet other teams take casualties against them, and the refs don’t flinch. The 2012 Winter Classic was an abomination of bias refereeing, as was this past series against the Flyers. Next time Bett man comes to the NHL Headquarters in Rockefeller Center, I’m going to throw eggs at him.

  16. Yawndinger

    May 3, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    It’s easily the Canucks. So soft, they dive, whine and pout. Thanks to the LA kings and the Chicago Blackhawks (two teams full of textbook beauties) for giving the Canucks fits in the playoffs in recent years. Burrows and kesler are pure rats.

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