August Reader Participation Series – Your Most Hated Opponent

We try this every year with varying degrees of success. August is clearly the purgatory of hockey coverage. While we still wait any news of a Bickell or Versteeg trade, there is pretty much nothing going on anywhere. Everyone head for cottage, basically. So every August, we come up with an idea where you are invited to share your stories and experiences, and we’ll post them. We’ve done First Hawks Game, Most Hated Hawk, First Hockey Hero and the like. Well today, and this one probably has the most potential, is the opponent that drove you the most nuts. From any era (and the older the better, because those could turn out hilarious). We’ve spent enough time bitching about Burrows or Kesler during normal hours. You can dig deep for this. We don’t care if it’s rational in the least, a widely despised player or one that only drove the bile to rise in your throat and your throat only. Whatever. We want ’em.

So of course, I guess I’d better kick this off, right? You got it. Paul Fuckin’ Kariya.

It’s actually kind of amazing that I could so easily zero in on one such player. I’ve irrationally hated so many I would have thought this might take hours for me to even come up with a shortlist. And I mean, really irrationally. I hated Dan Hinote. I couldn’t tell you why, I just did. Adam Deadmarsh, who actually is one of McClure’s favorite all-time players which only makes me hate him more. I even hated Peter Forsberg (maybe it was just an Avs thing?) Shawn Burr. Kris Draper. Teemu Selanne Sergio Goddamn Momesso. Darien Hatcher. Fucstick Cicarelli (and if one of you doesn’t write up Dino, then you’re all basically fired and we’re getting a new readership).

But man, Paul Kariya. I hated his guts from the moment he arrived in the NHL, and it never stopped. It doesn’t stop to this day in some ways.

It’s not that Kariya wasn’t a marvelous player. He most certainly was, and his speed at the time was truly breathtaking. He had great hands. And trying to describe all the things about him that pissed me off, it’s hard to pin down.

Basically, the asshole was hockey Jordy Nelson. You wouldn’t see him on the screen at all for minutes (and he took really long shifts so you knew he was out there somewhere) on end, and then he’d just pop up completely alone and score. EVERY FUCKING TIME. And all five Hawks would stare at each other after while he was smiling that fucking smile and pumping his annoying little fists, as if they couldn’t figure out where he came from.

It was more though. That face. UGH. That face. Much like the reasons I used to hate Tim Lincecum, Kariya looked like that rich kid you went to high school with and you were dying to kick his nuts through his skull but you had to be nice to because he had the best toys, threw the best parties, and probably the best drugs. He was the one who like, played Dave Matthews Band CDs for girls at parties and convinced them it was the most emotional shit ever. I have no doubts Kariya can play “Crash” on an acoustic guitar. And worst yet, no one could ever catch him to mete out the justice you wanted for him so badly, much like that kid always skated because of his parents’ money.

The night Gary Suter crosschecked him in the face (while he scored, because of course) and probably started his concussion problems that plagued him the rest of his career? I knew I shouldn’t have enjoyed it at the time, but I did. I loved it. I rewound the tape. But hey, I was only like 13 at the time (I would so do it now too, though, and I know this. I live amongst you).

He killed the Hawks as a Duck. He was always scoring the 6th and 7th goals on the Hawks in a 7-1 Predators win (and it felt like there were 103 of those in 2006 between the two teams). And you knew, just knew, the Hawks would never have a player like that because they were still married to the Keenan “Hit Or Die” philosophy.

The only moment of joy I got is when he and his salon buddy Teemu tried to job everyone and take cheap contracts to win a Cup in Colorado and it spectacularly crashed and burned. Man that was sweet.

Here’s a story from his time in St. Louis, provided by the old editor of St. Louis Gametime Sean Gallagher. It was when the Blues unveiled their third jerseys, and they have those laces at the collar. All the rest of the players at the unveiling had them undone, and were kind of playing with them trying to figure out what they should do with them. Kariya came out with his in a perfect, neat bow. That’s Paul Kariya.

And now it’s your turn. Email your stories to, subject “Most Hated Opponent.” And please, don’t do what some have done in the past and just send me a name. I’m not writing these up for you. You are. This is your chance to star on the blog. I’m betting you guys can knock this out of the park.


  • Bob Lanz

    Bret Hull, cause his daddy was a hawk and it killed me he wasn’t. I hated the blues so much, every year we played them in the playoffs and it was a war. I remember one time not so fondly we were tied going to OT with like less than 30 seconds and I was screaming at belfour to stay in the net it seemed like every time he played the puck in the past against St. Louis it ended up in the back of the net. Well wouldn’t you know the puck comes out to Brett who burys the game winner with no time left. Brett Freaking Hull, the golden brat

    • Leo W

      Not to diminish your hate, Bob, but Brett and his wife pop into my bar every now and then (in STL). After I sheepishly admitted being from Chicago, he cleanly replied that he loved watching the Hawks. Likely only since retiring, and really, in the last several years, but he isn’t the meatball you think a former (star) player would be… to hold a grudge against a lifelong rival team.

  • TomL

    I do go back to the 1970’s as a Hawks fan, but my biggest annoyances come from more recent times. I am past 50 now and probably just becoming a grumpy old man. Anyway it’s Mike Smith. He is 6’4″ tall and has been a volatile physical goalie all along. I’m fine with that. What I am most definitely NOT fine with is guys faking injuries to increase penalties on opponents. (Same reason I also hate SOCCER!)
    In 2012, Smith took his sweet time playing a puck behind the net as 5’9″ Andrew Shaw forechecked. Shaw made some attempt to avoid him but there was zero room to go around him because Smith sealed off the wall. It resulted in a pretty good bump from a 5’9″ guy on the 6’4″ goalie. It immediately appeared that a sniper had taken Smith out. He writhed around having a yard sale with his unattached gear and down looking like death was near until the EXACT MOMENT they gave a rediculous 5 minutes major and a game misconduct to Shaw. He then bounced up and played the rest of the game.
    After the game talk was that Shaw would also be SUSPENDED for this bump. Smith, who had just finished playing the game where he incurred the fake injury then started saying he was not sure if he could play the next game. The NHL waited a long time to pass judgement on Shaw–day of the game I think. Then literally 5 minutes after announcement of a 2-game suspension for Shaw, guess what? Smith announced he was good to go.

    There is no room in hockey for that BS.

    Honorable mention for me is Whine Gretzky. He was a huge pussy and whiner. People tell em Crysby is the biggest whiner ever and I tell them he’s nothing compared to 99.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Shaw absolutely deserved a penalty, but Smith dramatized it into a major, Even the ref who made the call later admitted, I called a major because I thought he was coming out of the tame. This was all the more grevious for Hawks as it’s the same series Steve Walkom watched Raffe Fucking Torres successfully attempt to injure Hossa, and swallowed his whistle. League gave Torres a 25 game suspension, and Walkom, looking right at it, didn’t even call a minor.

      • RevSullyPJohansonEsq

        Definitely agree it was a 2 minute, think the PP goal came during the first 2 minutes, and with Lucic steamrolling Miller that year with no punishment i figured Shaw was getting a game no matter what, so fortunately I guess I don’t think Smith playing dead like the punk he is had a drastic effect on the outcome of the series, but he and Torres should steamroll and end each other’s careers for karmic retribution in a tie for Most Hated Opponent.

        Very Honorable Mention goes to someone who ripped the heart out of this Hawks fan by being voted to the 75th Hawks Anniversary Team and thanking the fans who voted for him by choosing to wear a Detroit jersey in the team picture. He was my favorite Hawk, he was one of us, i nevver blamed him for jumping ship from the sinking $.$. Dollar Bill, but he wiped his ass with maybe the only thing to look forward to in those dark years. Fuck Chris Chelios. May he be booed every single time he’s in Chicago, even if most people don’t know this and just blame him for going to Detroit.

    • wardrums

      Great choices.

      Watching Smith and his antics made me wamt to stab Joey Cora in the eye with a pencil.

      I also tiredof watching Gretzky stand at his blue line. In addition, if you looked cross eyed at him, it as off to the hooskow fow 2 minutea.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Steve Walkom.

    Not a player, but a ref. He was actually a great ref, and deserved his promotion to Head of Officiating, but whenever he got on the ice during a Hawks playoff series, he made headlines by blowing a major call, whether it was the non call on the Hossa hit, or waving off a good goal. While deserved, I am convinced the timing of the promotion had more to do with his bad calls against the hawks, than anything else.

    Okay, I know I can’t vote for a ref.

    Been watching hockey for 43 years, and I have NEVER actually hated a player… other than Raffe Fucking Torres.

  • Lemmy

    Lots of names that could be inserted here: Holmstrom, Avery, C. Lemieux, Jagr, Pronger, Dino, Kocur, Twist, Karpotsev (or does it have to be non-Hawks), Rozsival, Torres, Burrows, Lappy, Sedin Sisters… For now, I’ll go with Kronwall, who only seeks contact when the other player doesn’t see him coming and is defenseless. The Havlat crap… It’s a miracle he doesn’t get suspended every time he selectively throws one of his trademark cheap shots.

  • ChiCityKyle

    I’m with Sparky,

    Mine is a ref also and that refs name is Don Fucking Koharski….This guy is still someone my dad and I refer to till this day. This SOB was the biggest hawk killer ever. I swear it was his personal agenda to make sure the hawks were shorthanded at least for 25% of the game, every game. I was overjoyed when he finally retired. But if I had to choose a player to hate it would have been DARIUS KASPARAITIS because I hated his name with a passion. He sounds like a fuckin disease. “Got a terrible case of kasparaitis, doc said there’s no cure”

    Good Riddance to both!

  • jordyhawk

    So many choices. If it were a team, mine would be Canucks hands down–hard to match their obnoxiousness at all levels including management, coaching staff, players, fans, media, and so on. The 2009-11 Canucks set the bar on that for generations to come.

    One guy though that comes to mind is Gerard Gallant. Don’t know if he is my all-time most hated (I’m sure I’ll think of someone worse soon enough) but I just couldn’t stomach him so I’m throwing him out there. Maybe if enough of us are heard from we could have an all-wanker team.

  • gobears1987

    Brad Marchand. He has a face that is just inviting you to punch him.

  • Pilotefan

    John Ferguson, a hatchet faced biped who aspired to be horse feces. Twenty goal brawler who rarely lost. When he pried up Hull’s facemask to punch his broken jaw I would have shot him if my ten year old self had a gun.
    A cathartic moment that clarified the concept of ethical behavior and the real world. Some peoples’ children turn out to be asshats. It is alleged he was the asst coach who told Clarke to take out Kharmalov in the ’72 Summit Series..
    Living in Montreal and hearing Fergie’s virtues extolled daily fuelled my hatred of the Habs. Still love seeing them lose.

    • wardrums

      I think that was the figjt where Ferguson hesitated for a moment, not wanting to hit hull in the jaw. Hull unleashed a wicked roundhouse and Ferguson said afterwards, “I’ll never hesitate again.”

      He actually retired from the game because he thought he was going to kill somebody. I believe I rrad he knocked our Nesterenko twice in one game, although it may have been ona consecutive Sat/Sun weekend bash.

    • DJ

      You’re mixing your events. Clarke went after Kharlamov in the match between the Flyers and CSKA Moscow (the Red Army team), not in the series between Canada and the USSR.

      • Pilotefan

        Wrongo. Check the youboob video Bobby Clarke Slash.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      @ Pilotefan – Bud ya beat me to it -JFerguson-wise. As a kid fan watching games that guy DID strike fear in me. He was reay like a reallife monster. Your Habs unlove is echoed by my own, borne of heartbreak circa May 1971.

      (Could add YCournoyer to the list but him out of grudging respect for puck greatness. Ferguson just undiluted by time loathing.)

      More modern era, Probert took over for Ferguson – except the latter even more than the former (and never thought that could be possible.)

      Today’s skaters would be Steve Downey him do numerous ultra cheapshots. In my hockeyworld, that style beneath contempt..

  • wardrums

    Images of Kariua playing “Crash” crack me up. Funny story about lacing up the sweater.

    Therr have been so many opposing nozzles over the years. The one I always wanted to see a can of whoop ass opened on was Bobby Clarke. He had the Hound and tje Hammer backing him, and he just constantly tried to start shit. I woild have gladly traded a win in a Flyer/Hawk contest if it meant I got to see Clarke bleeding.

    In fact, I hated tje whole Flyer team, Clarke was just their spiritual leader.

  • Bobby Otter

    Slava Kozlov. I cannot articulate why. But I hated his guts. Probably because he was the worst Russian on those Wing teams. And those Wing teams were the worst. If I could articulate why I hated Slava, I would and write it up for you, but I can’t.

  • HostileHawk

    I can’t tell if this is a tribute or a bashing. Either way, surprised you picked one of the few Asian players from the league. Personally, Kariya brings thoughts of nostalgia for myself.

  • Jm

    Vladimir Konstantinov
    Not politically correct but he went around and gave cheap shots to all our star players in the early 90’s. Remember Ronicks jaw!