Every fan base has a number of players, usually on rival teams, that they absolutely love to hate. These hatreds can be the products of dirty play (real or perceived), playoff success against the fan base's team, incendiary comments to the media, and, in the case of players who used to play for that fan base's team, less than graceful departures from the organization.
Ducks fans have hated many players over the years for all of these reasons. These players have included the likes of Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson for his helmet-dropping antics in the 2006 playoffs, Ottawa's supposedly classy captain Daniel Alfredsson for shooting the puck at Scott Niedermayer in the 2007 final, Dallas' Steve Ott and Marty Turco for plenty of borderline dirty plays over the years and a little bit too much success in the 2008 playoffs, Ryane Clowe for general douchery during his recently ended tenure with San Jose, and pretty much the entire Detroit Red Wings team, especially Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg for being really good in the playoffs; Johan Franzen for being good and ugly and a little dirty; Tomas Holmstrom just for being ugly and dirty, and Dominic Hasek for more than his fair share of embellishment. If Paul Kariya's reception in Anaheim since his departure is any indication, he might even crack the list, at least according to some Ducks fans.
For the most part, those old rivalries and mini-rivalries are dead. Right now, the players we hate the most don't derive their hateability (that's a word now) from playoff history as much as they used to, largely due to the fact that the Ducks have only played in one playoff series since losing to Detroit in 2009. But we hate the following guys nevertheless.
This one goes without saying. In 2008, the Ducks used a second round pick to draft Schultz. Four years later he exploited a loophole in the CBA and became an unrestricted free agent, eventually signing with the Edmonton Oilers. According to the widely accepted narrative, Schultz gave Ducks management every indication that he wanted to play for them up until 2012, by which point the Ducks were forced to give him up for nothing. Adding another layer of pain is the fact that Bob Murray dealt defensive prospect Jake Gardiner to Toronto in 2011, thinking that Schultz's future on the Anaheim blue line made Gardiner expendable. Despite the fact that Schultz has only played one game against the Ducks, he has made an enemy of the fan base that so eagerly awaited him, and in our estimation, he deserves every bit of verbal vitriol we throw his way.
At the beginning of this season, a friend of mine asked me who was my least favorite player in the NHL, and I told him Drew Doughty. Perhaps this is because, at the time, my most recent NHL memories were of the 2012 playoffs, and in this case I had the Western Conference Final on my mind. I was rooting for Phoenix, of course, a position which was only further solidified by the mother of all temper tantrums, courtesy of Mr. Doughty. Coupled with his on-ice antics are his postgame comments, which, when they involve the Ducks, almost always imply that the Kings are the far superior team, regardless of the final score or the standings.
Let's revisit that Phoenix series again, shall we? That knee-on-knee incident is one reason Ducks fans (and therefore temporary Coyotes fans) do not care for Brown. Aside from his dirty play, Brown's knack for hitting the ice when opposing players get near him is well documented, a talent he brings to Honda Center year after year. And part of hating a player like Brown is the fact that, let's face it, he has scored his share of goals against the Ducks.
Ducks fans have never liked Stoll, but this season has given us reason enough to put him up alongside the other names on this list. Most recently, we saw him spearing a vulnerable Corey Perry, but the incident that really sparked our collective loathing of him occurred earlier this season, when he sent Cam Fowler into the boards and did not get an in-game penalty, a fine, or a suspension.
Clearly, this list is reflective of players that are currently hated the most, rather than those who would top the list of our least favorite players of all time. By no means do I intend to imply that our present hatred of Justin Schultz should stack up to how we felt about most of the players mentioned above him.
Right now, I'd have to say Stoll is my least favorite, but that is a position that can and does change frequently. If the Ducks end up playing Detroit this postseason, Franzen may well jump back up near the top of the list. If they play San Jose, maybe Raffi Torres will join the hall of shame. Any team the Ducks are likely to face in the playoffs employs at least a couple players that have the potential to join the ranks of Roloson, Alfredsson, Ott, and company. And any such player can rest assured that we will be chomping at the bit to give him the boo treatment at Honda Center.
But at the current moment, Schultz and the three Kings make my list. Who else do you think should make the cut? Is my Kings hatred overrepresented here? Are there serious offenders from the past who inspired enough resentment years ago that a good chunk of it still hangs around?