Every team has that one player who makes you want to tear your hair out, the player that is first to be blamed, the one that makes you ask yourself “How is he in the NHL?”. Every player gets some kind of criticism, but some seem to get a lot more than others. Every turnover, every bad pass, every missed opportunity gets magnified when you have a bad reputation with your own fanbase. So, I took to social media, the main outlet for player criticism, and asked each team’s fans who this player was on their team.
Boston Bruins: Jimmy Hayes
Hayes was acquired from the Florida Panthers via trade in the summer of 2015 that sent forward Reilly Smith and the contract of Marc Savard to Florida in exchange for Hayes. Afterwards, Hayes and the Bruins agreed to a 3-year deal, worth $2.3 million per year. In 2014, Hayes put together a 19 goal, 16 assist season and looked to be becoming a solid 3rd line option.
After being traded, Hayes regressed a bit, putting together 13 goals and 16 assists, and was a -12 in his 2015 -16 campaign. This season, Hayes has put together just 2 goals and 3 assists, while posting a -1 +/- through 47 games.
Buffalo Sabres: Cody Franson
Franson was acquired via free agency in September of 2015, he and the Sabres agreed on a 2-year/$6.6 million contract. Before signing with the Sabres, Franson started the 2014-15 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, posting 6 goals and 26 assists and a -7 +/- in 55 games before being traded to Nashville, where he put up just 1 goal and 3 assists for the Predators.
Since joining the Sabres, Franson has put together 7 goals and 26 assists in 2 seasons.
Sabres fans have criticized Franson for being”slow” and “consistently making bad choices”. To quote Reddit user u/CrazyCoat “Maybe I’m just paying attention at the wrong times, but it always seems like Franson’s messing something up.”
Detroit Red Wings: Jonathan Ericcson
Ericsson was drafted by the Red Wings in the ninth round of the 2002 NHL draft. Ericsson is currently on his third contract with the Red Wings worth $25.5 million over 6 years. Ericsson has never posted more than 15 points in a season. This season, Ericsson had 1 goal and 9 assists, with a -2 and 63 PIM over 51 games before suffering a season-ending wrist injury in mid-February.
Ericsson had been playing better this season before suffering a fractured wrist according to Reddit user u/legendary24_8, who said “Jonathan Ericsson gets the most hate from our fanbase overall, he was absolutely abysmal in every way possible last year but actually played good this year but the hate only tapered off a little.”
Florida Panthers: Aaron Ekblad
Ekblad was drafted first overall in the 2014 NHL draft by the Panthers. He broke into the NHL at 18 and immediately became a force on the Panthers’ blue line. In his rookie season, he posted 12 goals, 27 assists, and was a +12. Ekblad was awarded the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. Ekblad put together another solid campaign in his sophomore season with 15 goals and 21 assists, while improving his +/- to a +18.
However, this season Ekblad has struggled mightily. Through 61 games, he has 8 goals and 11 assists. The major problem with his game is, he is a -21. That may be accredited to the fact he lost his defensive partner, veteran Brian Campbell.
Reddit user u/eadie30 commented on Ekblad’s lack of ability to get shots through on net, saying”Did someone tell Ekblad that there was a rule change and you get a goal for every shin pad you shoot at? Cause damn he would be the MVP.”
Montreal Canadiens: David Desharnais
The now 30-year-old Desharnais was invited to the Canadiens’ training camp in 2008, and was signed to a 2 year contract, but he did not make his NHL debut until the 2009-10 season. Desharnais has most recently signed a contract extension in 2013, worth $14 million over 4 years.
Desharnais quickly became a great playmaker for Montreal, putting up 16 goals and 44 assists in his first full season with the Habs and showed chemistry with Max Pacioretty, but has gone through a steady decline ever since. In the past 3 seasons, Desharnais’ points have steadily dropped; from 52 in 2013-14, to 48 in 2014-15, and most recently 29 points in the 2015-16 campaign.
This season, through 31 games, he has 4 goals and 6 assists and Habs fans are growing tired with his decline in production.
Habs’ fan, Reddit u/Gabroux had to say this about Desharnais, “Guy who used to be the team 1st centre, because he was the guy who fitted the most with Pacioretty even if doesn’t have the skillset to be a first centre. Then was overused when he lost his step.”
Update: Desharnais was traded to Edmonton on February 28, 2017.
Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan was acquired via trade in 2013 from the Anaheim Ducks for forwards Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 2014 first round pick. Ryan had scored 30+ goals in 4 of the 5 seasons (did not reach 30 goals during the lockout season) before the trade to Ottawa and had established himself as a top goal scorer in the league.
Since becoming a Senator, Ryan has not reached the 30 goal mark and has been injury prone. He posted 23 goals and 25 assists in 2013, afterwards he was rewarded with a 7 year/$50.75 million contract. After receiving his new contract, he put up 18 goals and 36 assists in 2014. Last season, Ryan had some slight improvement, scoring 22 goals and tallied 34 assists. This year, in 50 games, Ryan’s games has dropped off again, posting just 12 goals to go along with 12 assists.
Senators fans are upset with Ryan’s production compared to his expensive contract. Senators’ fan and Reddit user u/Hoxtilicious voiced his frustration with Ryan, saying “Ryan is making 7 million dollars to slowly skate around the ice and turn over the puck as much as he can. He’s broken his hand like 4 times since he’s been here, which has seemed to take a toll on his shot and hands, his two biggest assets. Whenever he starts to play well, he gets injured. Super frustrating.”
Tampa Bay Lightning: Andrej Sustr
The 6 foot 7 defender Andrej Sustr went undrafted and made his NHL debut for the Lightning in 2013. Sustr has not contributed much offensively as he is more defensively minded. Throughout his career, the 6 foot 7 giant has been prone to turnovers and bad outlet passes that leads to icings, which has given himself a bad “rep” with some fans.
Maple Leafs: Matt Hunwick/Roman Polak
Hunwick was acquired via free agency in July 2015, he signed a two-year deal worth $2.4 million. Hunwick has previously played for the Bruins, Avalanche and Rangers.
Polak was traded from Toronto to San Jose at the trade deadine last season. After making it to the Stanley Cup with San Jose, Polak returned to Toronto the following offseason, signing a 1 year deal in early July 2016.
The defensive duo of Matthew Hunwick and Roman Polak, dubbed “Hunlak” was put together early this season and has been often criticized by Leafs fans. They grade as one of the worst defensive pairings in the NHL in Corsi and Goal Differential.
Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward
Cam Ward was selected 25th overall in the 2002 NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, and made his debut in October 2005. In the 2006 playoffs, Ward and the Hurricanes went on to win the Stanley Cup with Ward winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for Playoff MVP. In the next decade, Ward has struggled with inconsistency and injury.
This season, Cam Ward has started 48 games, posting a 21-19-7 record with a 2.65 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Hurricanes fans still remember the Cam Ward that carried them to a Stanley Cup but feel that the team could have had much more success if Ward had played at the level he did in the 2006 playoffs. Canes’ fan u/ATCrowson expressed his opinion on Ward, saying “As a Caniac who’s been here through this drought, I have to agree. When he shows up, he’s our guy! but there were years of inconsistency and injury that were very hard to deal with. And many of us feel like with good goaltending we could have done great things in stone if those years.”
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray
Murray was drafted 2nd overall in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets. The now 23-year-old defenseman, broke into the NHL in 2013, playing 66 games and registering 21 points, 4 goals and 17 assists. The next year, Murray only played in 12 games due to injury, he recorded 1 goal and 2 assists. In 2015-16, Murray recovered and played in all 82 games, he set a career high in assists (21) and points (25).
So far in 2016-17, he has stayed relatively healthy, playing in 55 games. He has, however, only recorded 2 goals and 9 assists.
Some Columbus fans have began to grow impatient with Murray’s inability to stay healthy and with his lack of production this year.
New Jersey Devils: Kyle Quincey
Quincey was drafted 132nd overall by the Red Wings in the 2003 NHL Draft, where he played a total of 13 games over 3 seasons. Over the next 4 years, Quincey spent 1 season with the Kings and 3 with the Avalanche before being traded back to Detroit in 2012. Quincey became a regular on the Red Wings’ back end from 2013 through 2015 playing in all 82 games in 2013-14 and 73 in 2014-15.
Quincey became a free agent after the 2016 season and signed a 1-year contract with the Devils this past offseason.
joining the Devils, Quincey has been has been criticized on his lack of speed and poor decision-making in his own end, as well as the own goal he scored in mid-November in a game vs San Jose.
New York Islanders: Dennis Seidenberg
After spending 7 years with the Boston Bruins, Seidenberg was bought out from the final 2 years of his contract after the 2015-16 season. The following offseason he signed a 1 year/$1 million deal with the Islanders.
The 35-year-old defenseman has played in 54 games this season, recording 4 goals and 14 assists, and a +20 +/-. Despite the solid +/-, Seidenberg has been criticized for his lack of speed, shown by this edit made of Seidenberg by r/NewYorkIslanders.
New York Rangers: Dan Girardi
After going undrafted in the 2003 NHL Draft, Girardi signed with the New York Rangers and has played his entire career in the Rangers organization. Girardi signed a 6 year/$33 million extension in 2014.
Rangers fans have criticized Girardi for being a shell of the player he was in the recent past, not playing up to his contract and say that he is carried by his defensive partners.
Philadelphia Flyers: Andrew MacDonald
In March 2014, MacDonald was traded by the Islanders to the Flyers in exchange for minor leaguer Matt Mangene, a second round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and a third round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. MacDonald performed well for the Flyers in after the trade and was rewarded with a 6 year deal worth $30 million.
Since receiving his new contract, MacDonald has been scrutinized for poor defensive zone play. He has been prone to turning the puck over and being caught out off position too often. Reiterated by u/TheJohnMacena who expressed his disapproval with MacDonald, saying “Andrew MacDonald because he was signed to a 6 year, 30 million contract that no one wanted him to sign. The fanbase was dreading him getting to the Flyers while he was on the Islanders. He was projected as a top 4, puck moving, shot-blocking defensemen, but he plays like a borderline NHL defensemen and continually dresses over better defensemen and gets prime ice time while being unable to protect the blue line.”
Pittsburgh Penguins: Chris Kunitz
From what I gathered, fans of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins really don’t “Hate” anyone on their team, but seem to get on aging winger Chris Kunitz a little more than the rest.
Reddit u/captbritcorps “Kunitz gets incidental hate it feels whenever he misses a shot or does something pretty egregious but it feels like it’s died down a bit lately. Doesn’t help that he’s older now and on the last year if his contract but that’s about it really.”
Must be nice to be a Penguins fan these days.
Washington Capitals: John Carlson
Carlson was drafted by the Capitals 27th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft and has played his entire career with the Capitals. Carlson has consistently been a 30-4o point player, with a career high of 55 points set in 2014-15.
Despite his recent consistent production, Carlson has gotten some criticism for losing a step after suffering a foot injury last season. After the Shattenkirk trade, even more fans would be content with trading Carlson who is set to become a free agent at the end of this season.
Thanks to all the people who helped me with this article.
Dean Snock is a “The Wraparound” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @DSnock97.