Top six dirty plays of the 2014-15 NHL season

Watch as Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien delivers a brutal cross check to Rangers centre J. T. Miller, which Alain Vigneault called one of the most vicious of the year.

Dustin Byfuglien’s unnecessary cross-check on J.T. Miller was perhaps the dirtiest play of the 2014-15 NHL season.

The worst part about it is the fact it wasn’t a hockey play at all. Byfuglien is a physical specimen and has been playing outstanding hockey since coming back from an injury, however, when the Winnipeg Jets’ six-foot-five, 260-pound defenceman drove his stick into the back of the New York Rangers forward’s head, it crossed the line. As Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said, it was “violent, deliberate [and] could have broken [Miller’s] neck.”

Byfuglien received a four-game suspension and will forfeit $111,827.96 in salary.

With this dirty play, here are five more in mind as we look back at the worst cheap shots of the season.

Zac Rinaldo does the most Zac Rinaldo thing ever

Rinaldo is no stranger to plays like this one and unfortunately Kris Letang is no stranger to getting injured. In a Jan. 20 Battle of Pennsylvania, Rinaldo received a boarding major, a game misconduct and was suspended eight games as a repeat offender for this leaping hit from behind against the glass.

Brad Marchand adds to his reputation

A play like this so close to the boards can potentially lead to broken ankles or legs, significant knee damage or even a concussion. Luckily, Derick Brassard came away from the incident unscathed. Marchand got two games for this play.

Ryan Suter elbows Steve Downie

The Minnesota Wild stalwart isn’t a dirty player, but his elbow on Steve Downie in January was sneaky and malicious. Suter insisted it was accidental. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety disagreed and gave him a two-game ban.

Dmitry Kulikov’s low-bridge on Tyler Seguin

Everyone loves a good hip check but Kulikov went too low when he took out Seguin’s knees in February. The Panthers’ defenceman got four games and Seguin ended up missing 10 games and it cost him a chance to stay in the Art Ross and Hart Trophy conversation.

Daniel Carcillo cross-checks Mathieu Perreault

This one wasn’t quite as bad as Byfuglien’s even though his punishment was more severe. Carcillo got a six-game suspension for the play, but the player’s history factored into that punishment. At that point, Carcillo had been suspended or fined a total of 11 times by the NHL.

It doesn’t just happen in the NHL either. In fact, two of the dirtiest plays of the hockey season took place overseas.

In January, former OHL and AHL player Joe Grimaldi lost his mind while playing for the Edinburgh Capitals in the Elite Ice Hockey League. He was handed an 18-game suspension and received 67 penalty minutes for this wild sequence.

Last month, former NHL and AHL enforcer Andre Deveaux did his best Paul Bunyan impression as he chopped down an opposing player with a vicious slash prior to a playoff game in a Swedish tier-two league.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.