(Created by Ziggy Linklater & Kevin Minato)

Ahhh, that’s both terrific and loosely related to today’s topic, being that what Gary Bettman has the power to do to the NHL is terrifying in and of itself.

Last season we used Halloween to look at hockey’s scariest hitters. This year we’re going to go a little more big picture, and look at the scariest people from all the different parts of the hockey world. Below is the Backhand Shelf list of hockey’s scariest players, from goal-scorers to fighters, goaltenders and beyond.

Hockey’s Scariest:

Player to face on a breakaway: Marian Gaborik

Yes, Claude Giroux has a whole pillowcase full of tricks-not-treats for tenders, and Pavel Datsyuk always has something disgusting (Good ‘n’ Plenty’s? Okay, enough Halloween metaphors) to offer, but Marian Gaborik is stone-cold business. He’s an assassin. He may present the constant threat of utter embarrassment that Datsyuk does, but it’s only because he’s a cyborg built to have breakaways end in red lights with no nonsense. Jets on, head up, pucks in.

You get the point.

Guy to fight: Zdeno Chara

George Parros loses out because he doesn’t have the balance (oh please don’t tell him I said that), and John Scott loses out because…well, Jesus, Chara. Scott my be as big as Z, but Chara has been in ESPN the Magazine highlighting just how amazing his core strength is. Nobody is as strong as that behemoth.

Goalie to face: The Bruins (real) goaltending duo

There are a boatload of good goaltenders in the NHL. Some of them are very big. But some of the biggest and the best are just…I dunno…gentlemanly. I mean, Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne…they’re sweet people.

But the Bruins true duo of Tim Thomas and Tukka Rask are not only crazy good at stopping pucks, they’re, well…crazy, for lack of a better term. We’ve all seen Tim Thomas – in the midst of winning trophies and setting records – get physical…

…but don’t forget that Rask is a madman too.

Guy to have your head down against: Niklas Kronwall

You may not like the way he hits – y’know, with his ass and all – but you cannot argue that goddamn is it a terrible idea to bury your head when coming up his wing. Whether he jumps or not is debatable (is it him propelling himself up, or the contact), but again: seriously, chin up, fellas.

Defenseman: Zdeno Chara

And not just because I think he’s the toughest guy in the League. He has also has the NHL record (and therefore world, sorry KHL) for the hardest shot, and he borderline killed Max Pacioretty. He’s scary.

Coach: Guy Boucher

One word: Bond villain.

…Wait. …Ah, whatever.

The scariest part of Guy (generic, not real name) Boucher is how even-keel he can be, like something that rarely rears its scary head lurks below the surface. Tortorella is the default answer to this question, but I’m not afraid of getting yelled at. Hell, the man loves puppies. Pat Quinn would’ve been scary…there’s a million scary guys. But Guy Boucher has connections, and he will disappear you.

General Manager:  Lou Lamoriello

You think Guy Boucher will disappear you? Lou will disappear Guy Boucher before Guy has the chance to. Guy answers to Lou, who only answers to the Devil, whom he sold his soul for three Stanley Cups. Do not fuck with Lou.

(Disclaimer: he’s actually a very nice man, I may be exaggerating based on his reputation.)

Straight-Up Appearance: Milan Lucic

It’s not that Milan Lucic is the ugliest guy in the League or anything, it’s just that…on straight-up appearance, you do not want to see him coming the other way when walking home at night. He rises above the rest of us puny humans, casting shadows that leave us in his looming dark. He is watching you. He will hurt you.

Happy Halloween, hockey fans. Let’s have your votes.

Comments (19)

  1. That Nik Kronwall only made me miss the NHL more.

    Also, Go Bruins!

  2. by my count, 2 out of Kronwalls hits were legal/clean (assuming we agree that a headshot, a jumping ass-hit, or flying elbows are dirty):
    10) is a jumping ass to face hit on briere. dirty.
    9) another jumping ass to face hit on kesler. dirty.
    8) jumping elbow to the face hit on peverley. dirty.
    7) clean shoulder to shoulder hit on clowe. legit.
    6) elbow to face headshot on hemsky. dirty.
    5) solid clean hit on miettinen. legit.
    4) flying elbow on bonk but its clear he ducks last second so its a pass. legit.
    3) jumping elbow on miettinen. dirty.
    2) jumping shoulder on heatley. dirty.
    1) blatany headshot on havlat. dirty.

    what’s the deal? 7 out of 10 of these are blatantly dirty. I used to like this guy, now im not so sure.

    • Leaving your feet after contact is not only legal, but expected, as most hits that hard cause both guys to fall over. Check your list again…

      • Leaving your feet due to contact is expected. Leaving your feet into it is an intent to injure.

        There’s a good test to figure which is which: if the hitter misses, will he land on his face. With most of Kronwall’s hits, particularly those flying elbows, the answer is yes.

        Here’s what a guy leaving his feet due to contact looks like

        Notice the difference? Center of gravity between his legs, pushes out through the chest instead of up into the face, never loses his own balance, target gets back up despite being thrown about 10 feet (this is why hits like this don’t cause the commotion that flying elbows to the face do).

        Picked one of the dirtiest players in hockey to illustrate that even a guy like that hits more honest than Kronwall. Gillies doesn’t crawl beneath referee’s legs when people try to fight him either.

  3. whoops 3 of them are legal/clean

  4. Gaborik must gotten markedly better on break-aways since heading to New York. He was turrible in Minny when it came to break-aways or shoot-outs. Anyone know where career shoot-out stats could be found?

    • Yeah, and that head up thing…


      must’ve learned that after leaving MN too.

    • Yeah…Gaborik was TERRIBLE on the breakaway when in Minnesota. To the point where I’d have rather had ANYone take a breakaway or shootout attempt than him. I think most of that, though, was because he just simply couldn’t deke. It seemed like anytime he tried to, he just lost the puck, which pretty much gave goalies an idea of what he was going to try to do: Snipe, gloveside high.

  5. If you watch that video on Kronwall’s hits, the announcers almost always point out how clean of a hit it was, yet inevitably the other team jumps him after the hit…

    That drives me crazy as a Red Wing fan (and yes, I can see how he comes close to the line, occasionally crossing it with his hits).

    • Welcome to hockey. It’s been a sport in which it’s not only legal, but expected, that if you make a play that someone thinks could have injured his teammate, said guy will jump you and you will fight him unless you’re a complete coward. Been this way since the early 20th century. At no point was it ever not this way, so if you and the announcers are mad, you’re mad at hockey for existing.

      • So because your teammate was skating with his head down, you fight the guy who hit him?

        • Because someone skated with his head down, no. Because you decided to try to remove someone who may or may not have had his head down from the game, via injuring him, yes. Read up on the history of the All Star game. It’s always been like this. Hit a guy in a way that might hurt him and someone’s going to clock you.

          To my knowledge, the only thing different about Kronwall is he’s the first player in league history who’s happy to try to hurt someone with his head down, while also being so gutless as to never reckon for his violent actions when someone comes looking for him in an even situation.

  6. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, Apple’s Siri is taunting hockey fans now:


  7. Zdeno Chara…


  8. Rangers fan here….

    Although, he may be the scariest player TO get a breakaway because of various reasons (he’s fast, can actually put the puck in the net, cherry picks a bit, etc), Gaborik wouldn’t be my first choice (even on the Rangers) for scariest player on a breakaway.

    His shootout numbers are atrocious, which is why he doesn’t usually shoot in the top 3 on the Rangers. If you’re looking for someone to get a breakaway and finish, he may be your guy though.

  9. You WILL do 55!

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