There's a good chance that, if you consider yourself a fan of the Stars, you also consider yourself a fan of Steve Ott.
Ott may be the most effective pest in the game; he scraps, he hits, and he gets in his opponents' heads. Ott once learned to curse in six different languages to prepare for the World Junior Hockey Championship as a member of Team Canada.
But is Steve Ott dirty?
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According to a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated, absolutely. The poll interviewed 324 of Ott's NHL peers, asking the question, "Who is the dirtiest player in the league?"
With 13 percent of the vote, Ott sat at the top of the list, tied for first with Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger.
Former-Star and resident lothario Sean Avery came in fourth behind the Senator's Jarkko Ruutu.
True, Ott's 35 minors in 64 games is the highest penalty to game ratio in the league among those who played 50 or more games. True also, Ott was suspended for one game last March when he gouged the eye of Anaheim's Travis Moen. (Ott maintains that this was accidental.)
But it seems that there's a very good chance that this poll is merely another testament to Ott's effectiveness as a pest. Ott himself has never shyed away from his belief that his NHL career would be lessened, if not non-existent were it not for his development as an instigator. This is what makes Ott the ultimate love-him-or-hate-him NHL player.
There's little doubt that he knows exactly what he's doing on the ice and that, probably, is why he does it so well. Is he a loathsome figure to other teams, and the fans of those teams? Of course.
If he played for Colorado, I'd probably hate him too.
But, alas, he doesn't.
If anything, Ott deserves the most sincere congratulations in the wake of the player-poll; because, as a pest in the NHL, making opposing players hate you is the name of the game. Bruce Bowen is probably the most hated man in the NBA, consistently decried as a 'dirty' player by opposing teams; he is also a perennial member of the All-NBA defensive team.
In this light, the first spot on the NHL's dirtiest players list may as well, for a pest like Ott, be the Hart Trophy.
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