Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

It seems hard to believe, but the NHL regular season will be over in just three more days. Like winter, the playoffs are coming, but before we launch ourselves full bore into the postseason, lets take a look back at the season that was. Specifically, I’m interested in looking back at the dirtiest cheap shots of the season.

I have compiled a list of what I believe are the ten dirtiest cheap shots of the season. I included a couple from the preseason, as the suspensions the players received carried on into the regular season and they were pretty dang cheap. Which is the dirtiest or is there one that I didn’t include that outdoes them all?


What was the dirtiest cheap shot of the season?
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Here are the 10 cheapshots in chronological order:

1. Jody Shelley on Darryl Boyce

This preseason boarding major was one of Brendan Shanahan’s first tests as the new head of the Department of Player Safety and he handed out a hefty 10-game suspension (5 pre-season, 5 regular) to Jody Shelley. Darryl Boyce’s back is to Shelley for at least 3 full seconds before Shelley runs him into the boards directly through his numbers. Ugly, ugly hit.

2. James Wisniewski on Cal Clutterbuck

I’ve seen a few people talking about Wisniewski’s massive preseason suspension as if he was unlucky to run into a trigger-happy Shanahan. Then I watch the video of him jumping into Clutterbuck’s head with his elbow after the horn had sounded to end the third period…yeah, that was a pretty well-deserved 11-game suspension (3 preseason, 8 regular).

3. Patrick Kaleta on Jakob Voracek

It’s still bizarre watching this one. Clearly, Patrick Kaleta is a Pokemon fan and he mistook Jakob Voracek for a tree, as he blatantly headbutted him. Alternately, Kaleta was just emulating his hero, Zinedine Zidane. Those are the only explanations that I can think of, as this is essentially inexplicable.

4. Chris Stewart on Nicklas Kronwall

There’s not a chance that Nicklas Kronwall even knew Chris Stewart was there. He looks over his right shoulder at the last second, likely because a teammate was yelling, but by then it’s too late. Stewart hits Kronwall right in the numbers, but it’s the follow-through from his arms that makes this dirty, sending Kronwall head first into the boards.

5. Kevin Porter on David Booth

For all the fuss that has been made of late over concussions and head shots, knee injuries end a lot of careers as well. Kevin Porter has plenty of time to avoid a knee-on-knee collision, but doesn’t, bending David Booth’s leg momentarily backwards. Porter was suspended for 5 games; Booth missed 18.

6. Andy Sutton on Alexei Ponikarovsky

Andy Sutton is 6’6″, so when he leaves his feet, it’s noteworthy. Sutton jumps into the hit, making contact with Ponikarovsky’s chin with his forearms, sending Ponikarovsky’s head into the boards. Having already been suspended 5 games just a month earlier, Sutton received no mercy from Shanahan, getting suspended for 8 games.

7. Rene Bourque on Nicklas Backstrom

If the Capitals end up missing the playoffs, you can look back at this elbow as being a big reason why. With the puck gone and Backstrom no threat to join the rush, Rene Bourque sticks his elbow directly into Backstrom’s jaw for essentially no reason whatsoever. Bourque was already on the books with a 2-game suspension just a few weeks prior to this elbow and got 5 games from Shanahan. If the extent of Backstrom’s injury was known, he might have gotten more, as Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion.

8. Dan Carcillo on Tom Gilbert

Ironically, Dan Carcillo got the worst of this dirty hit, as he sent Tom Gilbert flying dangerously into the boards, only to have him land on his left knee and tear his ACL. Gilbert missed 14 games with a knee injury of his own and Carcillo was suspended 7 games, though he would end up missing the rest of the season with his injury.

9. Brad Marchand on Sami Salo

With all the emphasis on going high with hits, this cheap shot was a reminder that going low can be just as dangerous. While some tried to characterize it as a hipcheck gone wrong, the fact that Marchand led with his shoulder should quickly put that theory to bed. Marchand was suspended for 5 games, while Salo missed 6 games with a concussion.

10. Duncan Keith on Daniel Sedin

As further evidence of how much the Canucks are hated around the league, observe that 3 of the 10 worst cheap shots from this season were perpetrated against them. The latest was a Duncan Keith elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin, with neither player having touched the puck. There were some who wanted to characterize this as retaliation for an earlier hit by Sedin, but that doesn’t exonerate Keith; instead, it makes his actions worse as it would ascribe intent and maliciousness to Keith’s actions rather than simply a mistimed play in the moment.

So what are your thoughts on this list? Which is the dirtiest? What cheap shots did I miss?

Comments (29)

  1. Sestito’s late, targeted, blindside hit on Horton, who is STILL out.

  2. Honestly can’t believe Wisniewski’s is even on this list. It was so horrible Clutterbuck missed an entire… not even one shift and only earned Wisniewski a 2-minute minor penalty. Clutterbuck even played on the ensuing power play. If Wisniewski hadn’t been handed one of the most asinine suspensions of the year it likely never would have been discussed again.

  3. As a Vancouver fan, I’m inclined to say it’s Keith on Daniel because it was the least resembling of a hockey play, but I think the worst was Carcillo on Gilbert because of the massive potential for serious injury.

    • +1. Not a hockey play. The hockey play is for the defender to go back and fetch the puck. Keith just decided to land a kill shot on a player who never even had a chance of touching the puck.

  4. It looks like people are just voting for the incidents fresher in their minds. Are they not watching the videos?

  5. Lucic on Miller!

  6. Keith on Sedin.

    Not a hockey play gone awry. Most of the plays are hockey plays with momentary terrible judgement (ie. dirty reaction). Keith’s elbow is just targeted intent to injure. Elbows are rearely accidently involved in hockey plays. They are for hurting people (and for bending arms, of course).
    If you look closely Keith’s athleticism in his ability to throw the force of his body behind the elbow is impressive. That is very different (in the level of intent to injure) than an elbow like Borque’s. Borque’s is really bad but he is going for a check, leans towards it, isn’t going to make it and throws out his elbow. The difference is a sideways elbow like that and one which is trown with the full force of the body behind it. Borque’s doesn’t have near the potential force behind it to do serious damage.
    While I’m rambling about intent, it seems that Shannahan takes the player’s defense quite seriously. I’m all for due process–this is a good thing. But when the evidence is clear and the perp claims otherwise (i didn’t want to hurt him) that makes it worse, not something to mitigate the severity of the sentence.
    There is a lot of luck involved in these things (injuries and suspensions). Borque’s elbow, despite what I said above, caused a 40 game concussion. Keiths … hopefully for Sedin’s brain, a lot less. Also, had Sedin’s head been inches to the side, he would have been knocked out. As soon as that (or, worse, a stretcher and neck brace) are involved the perception, and gut feeling of viewers, demands a more serious punishment.

    In summary, Keiths hit bad. 5 games lame. As far as I’m concerned the league needs to step up and say this is not acceptable in our league. That message is only real if players are missing a significant part of the season and serious repeat offenders are told that we don’t do that here and get the boot–as in ‘go play in the KHL or elsewhere, that is not tolerated here.’

  7. Wow, most of those (if not all) are really ugly…
    But I have to go with Keith on Sedin, since this was clearly intentional and brutal!

  8. These are prime examples of why I’ll never understand concept that the Cancucks are the “dirtiest” team around. They are the only team this season to not receive a suspension or fine. The only Cancucks in the videos above are VICTIMS (3/10). I mean for the love of God… Sami Salo couldn’t hurt a fly, and then “The Rat” Marchand takes him out at the ankle? The fact that Chicago has so many perpetrators in these videos gives me enough reason to believe that it is NOT the Canucks who are dirty at all.

    You can cry all you want that Lappy is an instigator, or that Burrows is annoying. Every team has them, its part of the game, that doesn’t make them dirty. What makes a team dirty is when they have an agenda against another team and they do it in illegal fashion. Marchand can suck an egg, and as for Keith, I had a lot of respect for him until this incident. Keith always came across as well intentioned and honorable, and then he pulls a stunt like that.

    Chicago Blackhawks for dirtiest team in the league 2012.

    • Or the Bruins… I still can’t decide between them and the Blackhawks… Both teams disgust me this year with their intent to injure.

  9. Booth, Salo, and Sedin all took dives. Might not be the dirtiest team this year, but they’re still the least unsportsmanlike. Hell, Booth faked a torn MCL and Salo and Sedin faked concussions just to add time onto the suspensions.

    • “Least unsportsmanlike” is correct. But I sure hope you’re just doing a bad job of trolling. How do you fake injuries like that? Maybe Carcillo faked his own injury to try to get some sympathy.

    • Do you honestly believe that those three players, who are integral parts of their team, sat at home for extended periods(longer than the suspensions) to ensure the offending players received an extra day on their suspension?
      At least attempt to think these things through first.

    • Jim, you make me sick. Are you a Bruins fan by any chance? I watched all of those hits on American networks and even the ESPN, etc commentators said that they were cheap hits and deserved punishment. How do we live in a world where people can blindly ignore the facts presented to them on VIDEO and then stick to their assertion?

    • LOL. Clearly an anti-Canucks you are, jim, huh? I laughed at the irony of your disses…..”least unsportsmanlike”, you say?. Really? You diss their players, then compliment them after? Your comment belong to LOL!

    • Ha! Jim is a donkey. Must be a fan of Bush’s, too! Or are we misunderestimating you…?
      NHL suspensions are ridiculous. A whole 5 games? Two games? Wow. They SAY the want these kinds of plays out of the game but don’t take action to do it. If you suspend these guys for double the amount, it would probably reduce the dirty plays.

    • I sure hope this was said with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek. If so then, clever and amusing.. if not then you’re just an idiot!

  10. What about Burrows kneeing Keith. If retaliation doesn’t exonerate someone’s culpability then that one needs to be put up for a vote.

    • A lot of people have told me that Burrows kneed Keith, but the only video I’ve seen shows Burrows landing on Keith’s stomach with his knee and it’s inconclusive at best as to whether he slipped or did it intentionally. That said, if someone can show me a video that shows it more clearly, I’ll be convinced.

  11. Marchard hit or Keith hit takes it for me. Keith elbow was obviously pre-meditated and the MArchard hit was dirty all around…making it look like he’s going in for a shoulder (making Salo brace for a chest-high hit) then to go low like that and to have Salo almost break his neck on the play is sickening.

    Stewart hit is right behind.

  12. Simmonds hit on Giroux =p

  13. How does Chris Kunitz trying to crush Scott Hartnells skull against the ice as 2 refs try to pull him off not make this list?

    • That’s not on here, because you could fill an entirely second poll with the dirty stuff that went on between the Pens and the Flyers. Just this year. Both ways.

  14. Bourque on Backstrom? Then again, I’m biased. =/

  15. As much as I enjoy Niklas Kronwall get nailed with a dirty cheap hit after watching him do it for so many years and get off scot free, I think that one was really just awful.

    The Keith elbow gets my vote, though.

    Also I didn’t think the Carcillo or the Wisniewski hits were deserving of being on here. Carcillo’s was definitely a five-minute interference major, but not one of the dirtiest plays of the season. The reputation is what has it on the list. Wisniewski’s play was stupid and completely illegal, but one of the dirtiest plays of the year? Naaaah. Just a stupid play at the worst possible time of the year. If he did that three games ago, he gets a game or two at most.

    • Oh and to add – the Sutton play is no worse than most Niklas Kronwall hits.

      The Kaleta headbutt is basically the definition of a dirty cheap suspendable play. Would Rick Jeannerette even try and defend that? If your answer is ‘no’ you know you’ve done something deplorable.

  16. Keith on Sedin was a learning moment for Sedin. :)

  17. Since the list is obviously subjective, it is tough to view three hits on Canucks as evidence that the Canucks are the most hated team – especially when the writer is a Canuck fan and directs traffic here from a Canuck blog (from whence I came) ..

    However, the Keith hit is vicious. I never noticed that the puck was ridiculously no where near the play.
    The most stunned reaction by an announcer is the Stewart hit.

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