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The biggest villains in recent Bruins history

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They’re the players you love to hate.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Since the 1990s, there have been many players that have irked the Bruins fan base.

However, some seem to stand out more than others. Perhaps it was a dirty play, something they said, or maybe just having great success against the Bruins that has cemented these players’ villainous status in Bruins history.

While every year seems to present new enemies, there are some that will live in infamy longer than others.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest villains in recent times - plus one honorable mention.

Honorable Mention - Ulf Samuelsson

This one can’t count as “recent,” but you also can’t really have a list without him.

If you were to ask Bruins fans who’s the greatest hockey villain of all time, you’d probably get a lot of votes for Ulf Samuelsson.

Samuelsson’s dirty knee-on-knee hit on Cam Neely in the 1991 Eastern Conference Final would not only put a halt to the playoff run that year, but it would signal the beginning of the end of Neely’s NHL career.

This hit was so bad that it would cause the muscles in Neely’s leg to calcify, which would result in him missing most of the next two seasons. Although Neely made a few valiant comebacks, he was never the same after this cheap shot.

What makes Samuelsson even more dis-likable is the fact that he would go on to hoist the Stanley Cup later that year and then the following year with the Penguins.

Here’s that hit if you can bear to watch it (skip to 00:15):

Matt Cooke

If Ulf Samuelsson is the greatest villain in Bruins history, without a doubt Matt Cooke wouldn’t be far behind.

Like Ulf’s cheapshot on Neely, Cooke drastically altered the career of another Bruin favorite when he delivered a disgusting head shot on Marc Savard. Late in the third period of a 2010 regular season game against the Penguins, Cooke blindsided Savard at the blue line, giving the talented Bruin a Grade 2 concussion, one that would limit his play that season and the following.

Despite Cooke not being penalized at the time or receiving any punishment after this incident, the hit would influence the NHL’s decision to take hits targeting the head out of the game.

Unfortunately for Savard, another concussion in 2011 against the Avalanche would mark the end of Savard’s playing days. If there’s any silver-lining from this story, it’s that the Bruins successfully petitioned the league to get Savard’s name on the cup following their 2011 Stanley Cup victory.

Still angry at Matt Cooke? Here’s more reason for you to dislike him, and then the Hockey Gods giving him a little payback:

Scott Walker

Although not a villain to Bruins fans for most of his career, the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinal would forever cement the Hurricanes’ Walker in the ‘most hated’ list.

After blatantly sucker-punching Bruins defender Aaron Ward at the end of Game 5, Walker only received a slap on the wrist from the NHL in the form of a $2500 fine.

To make matters worse, Walker, of course, would score the OT game-winner against the Bruins in Game 7 to send the Canes to the Eastern Conference Final.

Here’s the incident in question:

Thomas Vanek

Let’s get away from the violence for a few moments, and talk about a guy Bruins fans hated simply because he could beat them in the worst place of all: the scoreboard.

Although Vanek was always a very good player throughout his career, he was a superstar against the B’s. In 67 career regular season games against the Bruins, Vanek scored 34 times and added 36 assists.

In the playoffs, he was just as deadly, scoring 6 times against Boston in just 10 games. Regardless of the jersey he was wearing, you could always expect to see Vanek show up on the scoresheet against the Bruins.

Here’s a bit of the magic he would routinely work against the B’s:

P.K. Subban

No list of Bruins villains would be complete without Pernell-Karl Subban.

Although he’s kind of disappeared from the radar of Bruins fans over the last couple years after playing in Nashville and New Jersey, no fan will ever forget P.K.’s time in Montreal.

There was no question about Subban’s offensive game back when he played for the Habs, as he was one of the game’s most dynamic defensemen, winning the Norris Trophy in 2013, and often coming up big against the Bruins.

But what really drove Bruins fans nuts was pretty much everything else he did on the ice. Diving, flopping, goading players in taking stupid penalties, turtling or running away from fights, and that smirk...oh how we all wish Lucic or Thronton could have wiped it off his face.

P.K. Subban gave Bruins fans a whole new reason to hate the Canadiens and helped take the Habs-Bruins rivalry to another level early in the 2010s.

Who could ever forget this embellishment from Subban in Game 7 back in 2011?

Braden Holtby

Since arriving out of nowhere to help the Capitals knock the Bruins out of the first round of the playoffs in 2012, Holtby has absolutely dominated Boston.

Holtby is 18-4-0 in his career against the Bruins, with a .939 SV%, a GAA of 1.93, and 3 shutouts. During this time, Holtby also recorded 12 straight wins against the B’s.

Even as Holtby has struggled over the last few years in general, he still seems to rise to the occasion when he plays Boston.

For Bruins fans, a 7-3 victory over the Caps in their last regular season match-up, which included chasing Holtby from the game, may be hope that the Holtby curse is coming to an end.


There are probably many more players that could be added to this list besides these 6 (like Alexandre Burrows). But let’s not forget the Bruins themselves are no saints either, and there are probably a few players who would show up on other teams’ lists of villains as well.

Are there any other players you think are bigger villains than these 6 players?