As times moves on, it’s inevitable that we age. Some age gracefully, some look better with age, while some, quite frankly, age terribly. On this list, we’ll have a bit of everything. One thing these players have in common, however, is how different they look in comparison to their younger days.
For the most part, hockey players stay in decent shape once their time is up. It’s like the old saying goes, “once an athlete, always an athlete.” This list proves that with some players still looking pretty darn good, like Igor Larionov who’s in his 50s. Some, however, haven’t aged so gracefully.
The following article features some of our favorites from the 90s and early 2000s. The pictures will shock some of you, as you won’t expect how different they look today. Like always, we encourage you to share the article with a friend and let us know your favorite transformation on the list, along with which players you could not recognize. Scroll down and enjoy the list of these 15 pictures of former NHL stars you wouldn’t even recognize today!
15. Peter Bondra
When it comes to 90s stars, it truly doesn’t get any more nostalgic than Peter Bondra. Who can forget the days of Peter’s blistering speed in NHL video games, where he had an unreasonable “99” speed rating to go along with his “95” rated shot. Yes, NHL games weren’t the most realistic back in the day, but it certainly speaks to how highly Bondra was thought of. The forward was no slouch in the scoring department either, putting up seasons of 52, 52 and 45 goals. For historical purposes, his goal scoring abilities landed him as the 37th player of all-time to reach the 500 goal milestone.
Today, the blistering winger is happily retired. He was the General Manager of the Slovakian national team from 2007 to 2011. Nowadays, he works for Colosseo USA, a company that makes custom scoreboard videos.
14. John LeClair
If you remember John LeClair from his playing days and haven’t seen him since, you’d struggle to realize that the picture above is the snipper who is 47 years old today. John was a fantastic player in his prime, as he really found his game once he left Montreal for his new beginnings as a Flyer. He dazzled alongside Eric Lindros, picking up three straight seasons of 50 goals or more. He will be remembered as a top notch American scoring winger, along with his role on the Legion of Doom line alongside the previously mentioned Lindros and another player we’ll discuss later in the article, Mikael Renberg.
13. Keith Primeau
It’s surreal to think that you have to go way back to 1990 to find the Wings at the top of the draft table, when they selected Keith Primeau with the third overall pick. Primeau was a beast in the OHL and the Wings had hopes that he would restore the franchise alongside Steve Yzerman.
Just as he was finding his footing, Primeau was shipped off to the Whalers. After he left, the Wings soared into dynasty mode by acquiring Brendan Shanahan from the trade. Keith would find his form in the City of Brotherly Love, but concussions would force him into retirement earlier than expected.
He’s 45 today and has been involved in several concussion related lawsuits against the NHL. The dust has finally settled today as Primeau is finally concussion free after a seven year recovery. Congrats Keith!
12. Tommy Salo
If you recognized Tommy Salo without looking at his name, give yourself a pat on the back. Salo was a decent NHLer who is unfortunately remembered for his awful botch at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, when the puck nailed him in the head and went into the yawning cage. He’ll never let down that moment.
Despite his blunders, Salo was a gem considering he was drafted in the fifth round, as he put up decent numbers throughout his career as a member of the Oilers and Islanders. He ended his career back home playing overseas for Frolunda HC. He traded in his equipment for a suit and an executive position as he signed on to be the General Manager of the Swedish team Leksands IF back in 2010.
11. Tom Barrasso
Looking pretty unrecognizable today, Tom Barrasso is 51. The former goaltender stayed in the hockey business after leaving the game, serving as a coach for various teams overseas. A couple of years ago, he agreed to an assistant position overseas in Russia, joining the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He was once again on the move in 2015, joining an Italian franchise, by signing a deal to be the head coach of Valpellice. Italians have ice?
On the ice, his legacy was pretty great, as he still holds the record as the youngest goalie in NHL history to win the Calder Trophy. Of course, his prime years were spent in Pittsburgh, where he put up some great numbers throughout his journey with the team, while sporting those vintage white pads that 90s NHL fans will likely never forget.
10. Ziggy Palffy
Still desperate to find Anze Kopitar a reliable producing winger, can you imagine what a fit this former LA King would be alongside number 11? The Slovakian was a dynamite offensive contributor throughout his career, putting up three 30 plus goal seasons in his five year stint with the Kings. Had it not been for nagging injuries throughout his career, Palffy would have been good for 40 on the regular. He ended his career back home in Slovakia, putting up ridiculous numbers in his final season, scoring 73 points in 39 games for Skalica HK 36. Why did he retire with such numbers?
9. Derian Hatcher
Drafted eight overall back in 1990, Dallas fan probably recognize this mammoth of a man who is 44 years old today. The towering defenseman Derian Hatcher wasn’t known for his point totals, but was instead a big bruising defenseman that shut the opposition down while rocking players with some enormous hits. After various leg related injuries during the twilight of his career, Hatcher was forced into retirement sooner than he wanted.
Following his retirement, Hatcher stayed in the game, serving as Philly’s player development coach. Nowadays, he’s a head coach in the Ontario Hockey League, teaching the future of the league a thing or two as the head coach of the Sarnia Stint. With more experience as a head coach, we might see Hatcher back in the NHL one day, coaching a team on the big stage.
8. Igor Larionov
Known as “The Professor,” Igor Larionov was a gem for the Red Wings throughout his lengthy career. It’s surreal to think that he started playing in the 70s in his native land of Russia. After years of playing back home, Igor made the transition to North America in the late 80s, as more and more Russians were making the move.
A brilliant mind on the ice, Igor offered the Wings high powered offense of the 90s a reliable defensive presence that former coach Scotty Bowman absolutely adored. The former star won three Cups with the Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002) and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
7. Anson Carter
It would be pretty odd to see Anson Carter rocking his dreads at the age of 42, but most fans probably won’t recognize the player without his hairdo that grew to popularity during his NHL stint back in the 2000s.
His peak took place during his days as an Edmonton Oiler, putting up two campaigns of 20+ goals. He spent his final year in the Swiss League and managed to make a living following the end of his playing days due to his larger than life personality and charisma. Nowadays, the former NHL winger is working for various TV stations including NBC-CSN, serving as a hockey analyst, along with working for the MSG Network in a similar role.
6. Mikael Renberg
We discussed his fellow Legion of Doom line member John LeClair earlier and we now shift our focus to the Swedish winger who was quite the force himself. Mikael Renberg enjoyed the prime of his career early on, as he put up a remarkable 38 goal season in his rookie campaign along with 82 points. He was a force in the years that followed, but, once again, nagging injuries would halt his consistency, playing in the NHL for ten seasons. He finished his career back home playing for Skelleftea AIK.
His legacy lives on today as Eric Lindros’ recent Hall of Fame induction reminded us of the Swedish forward and his contributions on that dominant line which was a threat every single night. He was one of the very best Swedes of the 90s.
5. Rob Niedermayer
Posing for a picture alongside his brother Scott, few would recognize Rob at the point. Rob didn’t have the same impact as his brother, but he was still a useful player in the league, providing teams with a solid defensive presence as a top notch checking line player. 2007 was the highlight of his career, as he played a pivotal role in the Ducks Stanley Cup run. What made the championship victory that much more special was the fact that he got to enjoy it alongside his brother Scott, something few siblings can say they’ve done in their lifetime.
4. Sergei Zubov
A gem at the back, Sergei Zubov was a player every coach and GM looks for, as a brilliant puckmover who can get the disk to his teammates in a hurry. He put up fantastic numbers with the Stars and he would end his career overseas back at home with SKA of the KHL.
Today, Zubov is currently enjoying a dream position as the interim head coach of the KHL’s powerhouse team, SKA St. Petersburg. Led by the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, the team is at the very top of the standings and is expected to take it all with Zubov behind the bench.
3. Dave Andreychuk
One of the best scoring wingers to ever play the game, the 53 year old you see in the picture above leads the NHL with his all-time mark of 274 power play goals. The record is still going strong today and should hold for years to come.
He waited a long time for his Stanley Cup moment and it finally came towards the end of his career as a member of the Lightning back in 2004. He stayed with the organization, signing on as the Vice President of fan affairs. He’s currently under the title of Vice President of Corporate & Community Affairs. Along with his executive position, Dave has been featured as an analyst several times in the past for Tampa Bay Lightning games.
2. John Vanbiesbrouck
The name so nice, you wanted to say it twice. The Michigan native was another 90s star who built a tremendous legacy for himself throughout his NHL run. He’s widely remembered for backstopping the Panthers to some great success while wearing that epic mask which is surely enshrined somewhere today.
Following the end of his playing days in net, John transformed into a role as a GM, although it ended with some controversy as he used some racial slurs to describe Trevor Daley. For that, he stepped down from the position and worked in the field of broadcasting for a brief amount of time. In 2013, however, he would return to his role as GM ,working for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.
1. Tony Amonte
90s NHL fans might not recognize this forward, as he’s a little chunkier nowadays, but let’s cut the guy some slack, as he’s 46 today and comes from an Italian background. One can assume he’s eaten a couple of pizzas and plates of pasta since his retirement.
On the ice, he was a terrific player during the Hawks darker days, leading the team as their best player throughout the 90s. He put up some brilliant numbers with the Hawks, which include three 40+ goal campaigns.
Following his retirement from the NHL, Amonte continued in the field, taking up a coaching position at the Thayer Academy in Massachusetts (where he resides). The picture above shows his past work for NBC-CSN, as he covers his former team and hometown club.