This week's Big Question: What's the worst thing a fan has ever said to you?
Steve Ott, Montreal Canadiens: "Geez, I've had a lot of shallow things said to me [laughs]. You know what? The funniest thing ever was that I remember I got absolutely cranked in the face by Kip Brennan. He just punched me in the face as hard as he could, and I ate the thing. Some fan yelled over the glass in the penalty box, asked me how it tasted. All I remember is that it was hardest sledgehammer I'd ever taken in the face. I didn't have much to say. That pretty much shut me up for the first time in my life."
James Neal, Nashville Predators: "When we came off the other night in Philly, one of the fans said that Ribby's [Mike Ribeiro's] hair was greasier than a Big Mac. I was dying laughing. It was pretty funny. There's stuff you can't repeat. You get it all there."
Dave Poulin, retired: "At Madison Square Garden, I got cut a couple of times there really bad, in two different fights. I mean, bled a lot. They called me Captain Blood there, which is really funny, right? ... So, I was Captain Blood at MSG, and it was well deserved. But I think the funniest thing ever said to me was in Long Island. I had to go get a skate sharpened, so you'd have to leave the bench and go to the locker room, and I was coming back and you'd have to stand and wait until the play was whistled so you could come back on the ice. I was standing there, the Islanders of course were a really good team, the fans were just thrashing me, every name in the book; it was like for two minutes, I couldn't get a whistle. One fan said, 'Hey, Poulin, shave your neck.' It was so ridiculous. I mean, after every f-bomb and expletive you can think of and then that comment? I actually stated laughing when he said that. I was like, 'Yeah, that's a good point, I guess I got to shave my neck.'"
Matt Martin, Toronto Maple Leafs: "The worst one might been in my hometown [of Windsor, Ontario] in junior [when he was playing for the Sarnia Sting]. I think it was during Game 3 of a Sarnia-Windsor playoff series, we had a huge brawl. The ref grabbed me, and I kind of got rag-dolled by the referee. I had to have been sitting in the penalty box for like 15 minutes. In old Windsor Arena, the glass was low, the fans were right on top of you. The game was like 5-1 and fans started leaving and they were all leaning over the glass and giving it to me on the way out. I don't want to tell you what they were saying [laughs], but I was just sitting there for like 15 minutes hearing it. I was hoping somebody would send me to the dressing room. There was just like 20 seconds left in the game, but I guess the refs wanted to put me through some misery. That's the one that comes to mind the most."
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: "To be honest, you can't really hear what fans say. I've never really heard anyone say anything that made me like, 'Oh, man. You got me.' Fans might chirp me about my nose, but that's the last thing that would ever offend me. Fans call me 'dirty' and stuff like that, but that stuff doesn't bother me. I could care less what any fan thinks, so no one's really said anything that has ever gotten to me."
Michael Cammalleri, New Jersey Devils: "I had an exchange once in the '04 lockout, I was in Manchester and we were playing in Providence. It was pretty funny. I was coming off the ice -- we were playing them in a playoff series, [a fan] was all over me. He was right by our bench all series. I was coming off the ice, I was going to get him -- I was going to offer him my stick when he was yelling at me, to shut him up. I offered him, 'Hey you want my stick?' As he was yelling at me, expecting he would be happy and take it and it would shut him up. He was like, 'No, I don't want your stick!' He shriveled me pretty good."
Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins: "Probably 'You suck!' or something like that. When you're in the box, even from your own fans, you're sitting in the box and you're losing and it's like, 'You guys suck!' It's tough. Early last year, when we weren't playing well, we deserved it. On the bench you don't hear it, but sometimes in the penalty box you can hear them. It's kind of funny."
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: "There's a guy in Tampa that is always yelling something, but you can never hear him. He yells from the Zamboni door but you can never hear him because the music is so damn loud. He always has his face painted up. You ever see the commercial where they're thanking the fans? They show him. He's over the railing. Screaming. No clue what he's saying, but I've always wondered what's coming out of his mouth. I usually just laugh."
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs: "I try to block that out, I don't want to dig back into those scars. No, I'm just kidding. Those are the fun moments when you're having a good game, or it's a close game, the fans on the road start chanting your name, like in Winnipeg [during the Anaheim-Winnipeg playoff series], they did that and it was a lot of fun. You're in their head, so they're trying to get into yours. Those are fun atmospheres to be in."
Anton Khudobin, Boston Bruins: "Probably 'You suck.' I've heard a lot of things, but most of the time you don't really want to hear them when they start chirping at you. Imagine if I'm going to be thinking about every single fan on every single road trip, or even at home, like your mind will probably blow up or something. You just block it out."
Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators: "I had a girl, I think she was 19 or 20, in Columbus come up to me -- it was an autograph signing. And she puts this thing on the table and said, 'Can you sign this, please?' I said, 'What is this?' And she said, 'Oh, that's my birth-control kit.' And I was, 'Excuse me?' She said, 'Yeah, it's my birth-control kit.' And it was like a big line, crowded area, and I was like, do I sign this? So I ended up signing. It was funny. We were laughing."
Connor Carrick, Toronto Maple Leafs: "Someone told me I was AIDS. They said, 'Connor Carrick, you're AIDS.' I got the point of what they were trying to say. It wasn't a positive thing -- it was a negative. That was probably the most vulgar. It's hard to top that. It was on social media. I didn't even go looking for it. They mentioned me and everything. They wanted me to see it and I saw it. Part of you is like, that's out of a control that someone would say something like that -- it's a hockey game. You laugh it off, talk to other guys who have stories worse than you."
-- Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside, Craig Custance, Joe McDonald