Pat Kaleta “2nd Most Hated in NHL,” Sabres Fans Outraged. Why the Hullabaloo, Sportsfans?

We can’t possibly have a dirty player.

Pat Kaleta is a hometown kid for the Buffalo Sabres, born and raised in Angola, NY.  We can’t hate our own.  Heck, fans really shouldn’t hate any of the players in Blue and Gold, but they do.  (Nice work shouldering all that rancor, Tim Connolly.)

Meanwhile, it’s been Kaleta that’s gotten the “dog-eye” treatment from players around the league, since his arrival in 2006.  Over his 5 seasons, he’s made enough enemies on the ice to earn him a spot on The Hockey News’ list of the Most Hated Players in the NHL, with a #2 ranking.  Only the dastardly Matt Cooke is ahead of him on that list.

“Say Kaleta’s name to a player from any NHL team outside of Buffalo and you’re sure to hear words we can’t use in a family publication. If Kaleta found himself on fire, the only way most fans and players would try to “help” would be to pour gasoline and fireworks on it.”

“He’s ahead of Avery, Pronger, and Neil?  That is total #$@!  How is that even possible?”  Those have been the raging questions du jour on Sabres message boards and Twitter chat, since that agitating little list came out.

Seriously folks, why so surprised?  Maybe it’s easy to turn a blind eye to dirty play when it’s your own guy fighting for you out there.  So, here’s a few samples of why Kaleta doesn’t sell any jerseys outside of Sabreville.

Exhibit A: Before even reaching the NHL, Kaleta had earned a reputation and a role as a player who would hit hard, devastatingly hard, even if there was essentially no time left on the clock.  Needless.  Hit the :03 second mark of the video:

When the play by play announcer says “and we are going to overtime,” it is never, ever the time to unleash a blindside pop like that.

Exhibit B: February 29, 2008.  TSN reviews Kaleta’s shot to the head on Andrei Markov:

Notice the slapshot-like windup of Kaleta’s stick before he uses that momentum on Markov’s head.  What is this, professional wrestling?  He might as well be skating with a metal chair.

Exhibit C&D: December 27, 2009.  Kaleta brains Paul Kariya (potentially ending his career with a concussion; Kariya is out indefinitely with Post-Concussion Syndrome).  Just moments prior to that, he slew-footed Erik Johnson, sending the both of them tumbling out of control and into the net.  Both escaped injury, by sole virtue of luck.  Lalime was lucky enough to not be a part of the collision.

As for the slew-foot, was that actually a leg-scissors takedown?  I am more and more convinced that Kaleta indeed watches a lot of pro wrastlin’.  Meanwhile, some would argue that Kariya’s size had a role in the outcome of the hit, or that Kariya was “stooping to avoid the hit.”  Sorry folks, that was a blind-side hit, Kariya never saw him coming.

Exhibit E: October 8, 2009.  Kaleta’s feet leave the ice to deliver an upwards driven shot on Peter Prucha, whose head got in the way of what would be considered a clean hit.

“No high stick, no elbow,” said Harry Neale on the play.  No, just a full body missile aimed right into the head region.  Leaving your feet on a hit is reckless: sure, his feet only left the ice upon contact, but his entire body was already heaving upwards.  Upwards, you know, where someone’s head lives.

Exhibits aside, I acknowledge that hard hitters are a big need on any NHL team. Intimidation and brute force are a part of the game.  Unfortunately, Kaleta has a history of crossing the line from brute force to reckless endangerment.

Remember folks, Kaleta has only been in NHL skates for 5 seasons.  It took Matt Cooke 10 seasons to gain only one suspension.  It wasn’t until joining the Pens in 2008 that Cooke’s play became infamously injurious.  Kaleta has been very lucky – so far – that he hasn’t taken more players out of the game.  It’s only a matter of time before he does, if he keeps pace with Cooke’s career.

Again, big hits are important.  Acknowledged.

It’s just that the stupid hits are more important, because those are the ones that get you in the penalty box – those are the ones that leave NHLers brains’ scarred with lesions and disease.

Lindy Ruff has seen enough.  He has benched Kaleta over his reckless play this season. Let’s hope that the benching gave Kaleta the chance he needed to review his style of hard hitting.

Keep it clean, Pat.

UPDATE: I am very much aware that many readers will disagree with the body of evidence I presented here.  Feel free to comment below, I always appreciate and respect discourse on such a personal fan matter.  It’s never easy to present information as to why one of our own is so hated by NHL players – but I do need to stay objective.  Thanks, as always, for reading.  (I have posted more links in that comments section as well.)

Go Sabres.


About scottymcss

Homeschooler. Freelancer.
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16 Responses to Pat Kaleta “2nd Most Hated in NHL,” Sabres Fans Outraged. Why the Hullabaloo, Sportsfans?

  1. Jonahan says:

    I used to love him, now I see him for the evil headhunter he is. :-p

    But really, this post has changed my mind on how he plays. I guess we (sports fans in general) are blind to this sort of thing if the player is on our team. We only see a good, hard hit.

    • scottymcss says:

      Unfortunately, it’s the one dirty hit that gets noticed the most, and Kaleta has had quite a few. There is a reason why we hate the other 9 players on this list here in Sabreville. There is a reason NHL players detest Kaleta.

      There’s more to his body of work out there than what I posted here.

      I really hope that when he comes back (from his current “knee” injury) that he hits hard but clean. He won’t get back in the lineup until he figures that out.

  2. scottymcss says:

    More links:

    Florida GM Dave Tallon asked for a suspension after this hit on Kulikov:

    Kaleta was suspended for 2 games after this boarding play on Jared Ross:

    Here is an article regarding Kaleta’s failed head butt attempt (of all things) on Travis Zajac:

    Really, Kaleta? Head butting? Case closed.

  3. brian s. says:

    He has always been my least favorite player on the Sabres, though I admit he brings added energy to the team and is a decent penalty killer. I don’t see his as being much more than a glorified Adam Mair.

    Also, I don’t see who can be taken out of the lineup when he’s healthy. Mancari? He’s been one of the best forwards recently and I would hesitate to break up the line of him Gaustad and Gerbe. Niedermayer? Doubtful, as Kaleta can’t play center. Grier? I don’t think Lindy takes him out at this time of the year.

  4. CDR says:

    Wow, that was BRUTALLY objective. I want to like Kaleta, but man, that thing with Kariya is hard to sit with. He was such a fun player to watch. The way things are going, guys like Kaleta are going to have to adjust their games or they’ll find themselves out of the league, unfortunately for them.

  5. Pingback: Kaleta to “Change Game” in Recognition of “Playing on the Edge” | buffalo74

  6. nadia says:

    Interesting article. Not sure if you went through and read all of the comments on THN, but it was interesting to see the trends. Armstrong and Kaleta were the most vehemently defended, by their own fans and even some from other teams (if you’re not counting Chara, which I’m not because he wasn’t even on the list). I really think Kaleta can change up his game and become a clean agitator.

  7. Brian says:

    I have to disagree with most of those snippets of video evidence the Kariya one he shouldered him trying to get position and take him off the puck (What your supposed to do). Markov took a should pad to the head (its white not blue like the elbow color in that uni). He leaned into Peter Prucha there isn’t time to ‘aim’ at someones head at that speed. It hockey as a contact sport played by the rule set over the last two decades. They need to take it out and limit it I agree the hits to the head but your body of evidence is just looking at replays through a grey colored lens. Thing about it a 6′ 220″ forward with a low center of gravity is going to win a lot when it comes to momentum and transfer of force. Its the concept of hitting like a truck some guys are built that way some aren’t its part of the problem. Those that aren’t don’t fair well in those wrecks.

  8. thj says:

    I still don’t get how he can be second when you had Avery and Cooke both active in the league at the time of the list’s publication. You gotta be doing something special to be ahead of either of those two.

  9. anomonyous says:

    this is a load of crap and so are you.

  10. Alysa says:

    I love kaleta. End of story

  11. scottymcss says:

    Regardless to if you love him or hate him, he has changed his game. From today’s (2-14-12) Buffalo News:

  12. Peachess Wny says:

    Guess you & Adam Proteau must be a tad lazy on the ‘research’ because, there is Ted Green of the Boston Bruins, Wayne Maki of the St.Louis Blues, Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins. And, let’s not forget about Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks & what he did to Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche!! Even Trevor Gillies of the New York Islanders made a repeat performance of his ‘dirty player routine’ the very first night just coming off a 9 game suspension to get another 10 games added on. Hmmm…and didn’t Billy Coutu received a Life Time BAN from Hockey (yes I know it was lifted but, he also never played again)…and that was for assaulting referee Jerry Laflamme, and tackling referee Billy Bell. Of course, there was that full bench clearing all out brawl that happened as a result of those attacks too.

    So, actually your re-quoting of Adam Proteaus’ ‘list’ is a joke! Neither one of you did any real research and even with the players I’ve mentioned, they certainly make Kaleta look meek in comparison! So, make your ‘lists’…but also make a point to do your due diligence as well. As for me, I’ll keep right on loving Patrick Kaleta…even now #36 is AWESOME!

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