By Lewis Gould
The Flyers may be near the cellar in the NHL Metropolitan Division as the All-Star game is upon us, but they have certainly made a splash as one of the dirtiest teams in the league.
Thanks to Zac Rinaldo, whose reckless check that injured star Penguins defenseman Kris Letang on Tuesday night has lit up the Twitterverse.
Judging by the hundreds of hate messages Rinaldo received on Twitter, some Flyers fans have even turned on him.
Rinaldo was handed a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct for his hit and on Monday he has a hearing with the NHL’s department of safety.
Rinaldo expects to be suspended. It’s just a question of how long this one will be.
This will make three suspensions in his four NHL seasons, plus he’s been fined twice. Earlier, he infamously had three goals and four suspensions during his one AHL season in 2010-11, and before that he was suspended six times playing three seasons of junior in the Ontario Hockey League.
Rinaldo, unquestionably, is among the NHL’s top instigators, but is he now the league’s dirtiest player?
Rinaldo definitely has strong competition for that title from, among others, Chicago Blackhawks left wing Daniel Carcillo, Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke, Buffalo Sabres right wing Patrick Kaleta and Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand.
A former Flyer and Ranger, Carcillo just this week was handed his eighth NHL suspension, four of them due to bad hits and two for abusing officials.
Cooke has been suspended six times for dirty hits, four times while he was playing for the Penguins.
Kaleta has been suspended four times for hits and head-butting. He also was fined for head-buttingDevils center Travis Zajac.
Marchand returned Wednesday after serving a two-game suspension for slew-footing. He’s now been suspended three times, all in the last five seasons.