Hockey is one of those sports where the best get spoken about for years to come, but the worst hockey players are often forgotten. Well, we here at Bet station believe everyone should get their time in the spotlight, especially those who were an insult to the ice. That’s why we have dug through hockey history to bring you the very worst hockey players of all time.
How do we decide what makes a hockey player bad? Good question! There are many factors we examined when looking for the worst hockey players of all time. The most important factor we looked for was the time spent in the NHL. Our list will only include players who have played across multiple seasons of the NHL, avoiding anyone who filled in once or twice.
Some players narrowly missed out on being included in the top ten worst hockey players ever, which is why we created a list at the bottom. In the honorable mention section, you will find a list of players that should not escape without a mention. If you are a hockey fan, then you should check out some of the other articles we have written about the NHL. This includes the best hockey players as well as the best hockey fights of all time. Now that we have sorted out the technicalities, let’s hit the ice!
10. Dallas Eakins
Dallas Eakins was a defenseman who had a lengthy career playing across multiple leagues. His career began with the Peterborough Petes in 1984, a member of the Ontario Hockey League. After his time in the OHL, Eakins moved between the AHL, IHL, and NHL for the rest of his career, before retiring in 2004 with the Manitoba Moose.
Looking at Eakins stats, he had 120 games across ten seasons in the NHL. During that time, he never scored a goal but registered nine assists. While it might seem unfair to look at a defenseman’s offensive contributions, Eakins got ice time for eight different teams in the NHL. During that time, they used him sparingly and often dropped him to the affiliate teams.
If you look at Eakins’ entire professional hockey-playing career, he had several respectable seasons. Often, he would play 60 or more games in the lower league, score a fair number of points, and then get the chance to play in the NHL. He would then underperform, get dropped down to an affiliate team, and the cycle would continue.
A lot of players considered being the worst in the NHL never got the chance to prove the critics wrong. Well, that certainly was not the case for Eakins, who consistently earned a chance to play in the NHL, but failed to perform when the pressure was on.
9. Rick Jodzio
Rick Jodzio was a left winger who had a short and fiery career in the NHL. Jodzio was another player who had multiple stints in the NHL with different franchises, as well as multiple appearances in a variety of hockey leagues. His NHL teams include the Colorado Rockies and the Cleveland Barons, but he also played in the OHA, SHL, WHA, AHL, and CHL.
His career began in 1973 with the Hamilton Red Wings and ended in 1980 with the New Brunswick Hawks. Jodzio made around 500 appearances in his seven-year professional career. In his NHL career, Jodzio made 70 appearances, scoring twice and totaling ten points. His WHA career was not much better, registering 31 points across 137 games and over 350 penalty minutes.
Jodzio’s claim to fame came in 1976 when he was playing in the WHA for the Calgary Cowboys. During the game, Jodzio attacked Marc Tardif repeatedly with his hockey stick, causing permanent brain damage. Jodzio pleaded guilty to assault and received a $3,000 fine for his crime. If you would like to read more about the WHA playoff incident, check out the Sports Illustrated report from April 26, 1976.
While nobody expected much from Jodzio, being the 153rd overall pick in the 1974 NHL draft, he certainly made a name as an enforcer. While you could argue he was doing his job, he certainly took enforcing one step too far.
8. Ken McAuley
Ken McAuley will go down as one of the worst goaltenders of all time. The New York Rangers signed him because of a shortage of players during WWII, as they drafted many players into military service. McAuley served a year in the military before the Rangers signed him in 1943. He stayed with the Rangers for two seasons before stints with the Edmonton Flyers, Saskatoon Quakers, and Kimberley Dynamiters.
During his time with the Rangers, McAuley played 96 games conceding 537 goals. In his first season, McAuley played all season, except for 20 minutes. He conceded 310 goals and went down in history for having the worst goals against average of all time, 6.24 GAA. His career stats are damning, winning 17, tying 15, and losing 64 games across two seasons.
The mid-1940s were a difficult time for all American sports, as they used most able-bodied men for the war effort. So, bear that in mind when looking back at poor old Ken McAuley.
7. Alexander Svitov
Alexander Svitov was a first-round pick in the 2001 NHL draft. The Tampa Bay Lightning picked him, who was hoping the Russian would be a franchise-leading center. Svitov was the third pick, behind NHL All-Stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Spezza, to further compound the Lightning’s misery.
Svitov began his NHL career with a very underwhelming season, making 63 appearances but only registering eight points. He had seven playoff appearances that season, registering no points. The Lightning cut their losses with Svitov and traded him during the 03-04 season to the Columbus Blue Jackets. A move that didn’t immediately yield a return, as Svitov went back to Russia during the 05-06 season.
With newfound confidence after playing for his hometown, Svitov returned to the Blue Jackets and played in 76 games that season. However, he only registered 18 points on his return to the NHL, so he went back to Russia again, never to return. The expectation surrounding Svitov was high when he was first drafted. Unfortunately for the Lighting, they picked the wrong player in the 2001 draft.
Looking at Svitov’s entire playing career, he only had one season where he scored over 30 points, and in that season he has 200 penalty minutes. It appears during his time in the NHL, Svitov was on his best behavior, playing 179 games and amassing 223 penalty minutes. Compare that to the KHL totals of 493 games with 657 penalty minutes, and you get an idea of what type of player he was (over 1,700 career penalty minutes).
6. Patrik Štefan
Patrik Štefan was a Czech center who played for Atlanta Thrashers and Dallas Stars in the NHL. His professional career began in 1999 as he was the first pick of the draft, ahead of the Sedin twins. The Thrashers picked Štefan, where he played for six seasons, featuring regularly. The Thrashers later traded him to the Stars, where a famous blunder ended his NHL career.
The blunder occurred in 2007 when the Dallas Stars took on the Edmonton Oilers. The game was seconds away from a Stars victory when Štefan went on a breakaway towards the empty Oilers’ net. Rather than shoot, Štefan skated towards the net and attempted a backhand finish. The puck hit some loose ice and jumped over his stick, causing him to trip and deflect the puck away from the net. The Oilers took the puck and scored with two seconds on the clock, taking it to overtime. However, the Stars did still win the game but did not re-sign Štefan at the end of the year.
Štefan managed 455 appearances in the NHL, scoring 64 goals and 124 assists. While his stats might not sound too terrible, as a first-round pick of the draft, Štefan never delivered half of what they expected from him. The center had more than enough time on the ice to show us what he’s made of, but that empty net blunder is all we can remember. If you are not sure whether Štefan deserves to go down as one of the worst hockey players of all time, just watch the video embedded above!
5. Alek Stojanov
Alek Stojanov was a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1991 NHL draft. He was the seventh selection of the draft, so expectations surrounding the 6-foot-4, 230lb Canadian were quite high. He earned the reputation as an enforcer with a golden touch after his fight with Eric Lindros in the draft year, plus plenty of goals in his early career. However, injuries sabotaged Stojanov’s career, causing him to miss large parts of multiple seasons.
Stojanov’s NHL career began in 1994 after a solid season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. He had four regular season games for the Canucks and five playoff appearances, all without a single point scored. In the next season, his game time improved to 58, but his point return only increased to a measly one. It was the consistency of his poor performances that saw him become part of NHL history. The Canucks traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Markus Näslund, one of the most lopsided trades in hockey history. Stojanov played 45 games for his new team, scoring six points in two seasons. Näslund played 12 seasons for the Canucks, appearing in 884 games and scoring 756 points, becoming the franchise’s all-time top scorer.
Unfortunately for Stojanov, he could not provide any form of impact with his new team. The Penguins sent him to the AHL in the 97-98 season, back to the Crunch; where he was first called up to the NHL. Don’t feel too bad for Stojanov, he found form before retiring with the Detroit Vipers and New Mexico Scorpions. However, the late resurgence did not save him from our list of the worst hockey players ever.
4. Nail Yakupov
Another draft bust was Nail Yakupov. The Russian right winger was the first pick in the NHL draft by the Edmonton Oilers back in 2012. He had four seasons with the Oilers, making 252 appearances and scoring 111 points. Not too bad, until you consider his plus-minus score was an incredible -88 for his short four-year stay. In 2016, the Oilers traded Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues, where his opportunities dried up after 40 games with nine points scored.
As a free agent, Yakupov joined Colorado Avalanche, the team he suffered a season-ending injury against while at the Blues. He played 58 games for the Avalanche in the one season he was there, scoring 16 points. However, they did not renew his contract, and that was the end of Yakupov’s NHL career, opting for a move to the KHL. The last season he had with the Avalanche was the only NHL season he finished with a positive plus-minus score; of two.
We expect a lot of draft players, especially the number one pick, but even the most skeptical fans couldn’t have predicted Yakupov’s struggles. He showed extreme promise in the two years he was with the Sarnia Sting, scoring 101 and 69 points in his two seasons in the OHL. However, Yakupov has gone the rest of his career without scoring near this level, proving it was just a blip on an otherwise downward spiral to becoming one of the worst hockey players of all time.
3. André Deveaux
André Deveaux was a sixth-round pick in the 2002 NHL draft. Although expectations were not as high for Deveaux when compared to other players on our list, he did make history. He was the first player from the Bahamas to play professional hockey in the NHL. Other than that, his time at the top level proved to be short and anything but sweet.
Deveaux began his career in 2004 with the AHL team, Springfield Falcons, after a successful stint in the OHL. After this, he moved between several teams before finally getting the chance to play in the NHL in 2008. Although they drafted him in 2002, he had to wait six years for his chance in the NHL, registering one assist in his first 21 games.
His time on the ice after this was almost exclusively for the AHL, where he registered three seasons with 40 points or more in a row. These performances got him a move to the New York Rangers, where disciplinary issues caused his demotion back to the AHL. He did sign with the Florida Panthers in 2012, but the NHL lockout meant 2011 was his last season in the NHL.
Although it may seem harsh to include Deveaux in our list of the worst hockey players of all time, his poor returns and behavior sealed him a top spot. After his NHL career was over, Deveaux moved around Europe to play his hockey, including stints in Sweden, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. In 2015, Deveaux was playing in Sweden, where Per Helmersson checked him into the boards and he lost consciousness during the game. At the following game, Deveaux attacked Helmersson from behind with his hockey stick during the warm-up.
The attack cost him his contract at the Swedish club, and he took a year out of the sport. Deveaux returned to professional hockey, determined to be remembered for his ability and not for controversy. However, they limited his time on the ice, and often; it was very low scoring. He scored two assists in 16 playoff games for Slovakian side HK Dukla Trenčín and scored one goal for them in 18 appearances in the regular season.
Deveaux played 31 games in the NHL, scoring two assists and 104 penalty minutes. While he might be an enforcer, there’s a difference between roughing up the opposition and ruthlessly attacking someone. Although the controversial moment happened outside the NHL, it does help our case to cement Deveaux as one of the worst hockey players of all time.
2. Bill Mikkelson
Bill Mikkelson was a defenseman who played in the NHL between 1971 and 1976. The Los Angeles Kings signed him in 1970 and he spent two years with affiliate teams. Mikkelson had 15 appearances with the Kings before moving to the New York Islanders in the 1972 Expansion Draft. He was one of the league leaders that year for ice time but had one of the worst plus/minus ratings of all time -54 for the season.
His performance for the Islanders saw him drop back down into the AHL with the Baltimore Clippers. His one season for the Clippers went well, doubling his point tally when compared to the 11 with the Islanders. In the 1974 Expansion Draft, Mikkelson joined the Washington Capitals, emerging as a leader for ice time once again. However, they restricted him to 59 games before dropping to the Richmond Robins in the AHL, resulting in the worst plus/minus score in NHL history.
Mikkelson achieved a plus/minus score of -82 for the season, a record that few players have ever gotten close to. Even players like Bob Stewart, who has a plus/minus rating of -257 across his career, never had a season greater than -50.
Mikkelson had some good seasons outside of the NHL, which included some high-scoring years as a defenseman. However, his time in the NHL was iconic for all the wrong reasons. No player has come close to a season plus/minus rating of -70, let alone -82, ensuring Mikkelson will maintain this record for years to come. While many regard Mikkelson as the worst hockey player of all time, we believe there is someone who takes that accolade away from Bill.
1. Alexandre Daigle
Alexandre Daigle was the first pick of the 1993 draft by the Ottawa Senators. He is widely regarded as a draft bust, failing to deliver in the NHL after being pegged as a future superstar. They drafted Daigle with the largest starting salary in league history for a rookie of $12.25 million. The Senators picked Daigle ahead of NHL Hall of Famers Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya, and NHL All-Stars Viktor Kozlov, Jason Arnott, and Jocelyn Thibault. This helped make Daigle’s quote infamous, as he said:
“I’m glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two.”Alexandre Daigle
Daigle’s early career was electric, scoring 110 points in back-to-back seasons, followed by a whopping 137 in the last season before the step up to the NHL. His first season in the NHL was not too bad, scoring 21 goals and 31 assists in 84 games. However, he only scored 50 or more points a further three times in his entire professional career. He scored 51 once more for the Senators, then 51 for the Minnesota Wild, and 61 for HC Davos in the Swiss NLA.
From being tipped to being a future superstar to delivering incredibly average point-scoring seasons, Daigle went down in history for being one of the biggest flops in hockey. He played as a center in 616 games in the NHL, returning only 129 goals and 198 assists. He only had 12 playoff appearances in his NHL career, scoring two assists.
While there are many players in the history of the NHL who failed to deliver, Daigle was almost certainly the worst. He had ample opportunities to rise to waning expectations but earned a reputation for his poor work ethic.
Final Words on the Worst Hockey Players of All Time
There you have it, a list of the worst hockey players of all time. Players like Alexandre Daigle changed the game in none of the ways anyone would have expected. Because of his poor attitude during the five-year deal signed as a rookie, the NHL introduced a salary cap to help prevent further Daigle situations; where players seem to not try because of how much they are earning.
There seems to be two types in our list of the worst hockey players, enforcers, and flops. Enforcers were guilty of being overly aggressive and often overstepped the mark, taking things too far. Flops had reasonable expectations to do well in the NHL but were unable or unwilling to silence the critics. Although you can argue the enforcers were out there doing their job, some were clearly psychotic, nothing short of a danger on the ice. Whether you believe some of these players deserve to go down in history as being the worst, one thing we can all agree on is; that nobody wants to be the next Daigle.
Some players thoroughly deserve to be included on the list of the worst hockey players of all time. However, they missed out for one reason or another. Below is a small list of the players who missed out on a top spot.
- Jason Bonsignore
- Jay Caufield
- Trevor Gillies
- Tanner Glass
- Matt Bartowski
- Craig Adams
- Tony Twist
- Cody McLeod
- Gregory Campbell