To make it into the NHL, an individual must be in remarkable shape and possess both strength and speed. This has been the case since the start of the NHL and these qualifications will never fade away. When looking back at the history of the league, we have been very fortunate to have some of the greatest athletes in the world. The conditioning and effort that these legends have put in should never be forgotten and should motivate players today. Yet, as these players age and retire, conditioning can be quite challenging to maintain and they can change in physique extremely quickly. This has happened to some of the best players of all time and it is a trap that should be avoided.
With that said, in this article, we will be looking at ten former NHL stars who let themselves go and five that have remained in great shape. Some of the names on this list will truly shock you because these were some of the best players to ever play the game. However, it is very easy for former athletes to gain weight because of the fact that they have lost significant structure with their lives. Also, it is important to note that, with some changes to their lifestyles, these former NHLers could very well get back into great shape. Muscle memory plays a huge factor in this. With this, there are also former players who have remained in fantastic shape and even progressed. It will be crazy to see how times have changed for all of these athletes.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the ten former NHLers who ride the couch and five who still hit the gym.
15 Rides the Couch: Brett Hull
Brett Hull is currently the all time leader in goals and points by American NHL players. Hull had one of the greatest careers of any NHL sniper and scored over 70 goals three times in that span. Hull’s career with the St. Louis Blues is easily the best in their history because he scored at outstanding rates and almost carried them to the Stanley Cup. Hull would end up winning later on in his career with the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings.
Brett Hull would end his career with the Phoenix Coyotes on a five game stint before retiring due to fatigue. Since retiring, Hull has remained active in the NHL by shortly being the general manager of the Dallas Stars and today, executive vice president of the St. Louis Blues. In this time span, Hull has seen a bit of weight gain, but it is common.
14 Rides the Couch: Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque is the best defenseman to ever play for the Boston Bruins who is not named Bobby Orr. Bourque was a spectacular player because he not only was effective on the back end, but he had the ability to quarterback the team offensively as well. It is sad that Bourque never could lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup. Luckily, he was able to win with the Avalanche before retiring.
Ray Bourque is still beloved by the Boston fans today and is often involved with the Bruins. Although he does not necessarily possess a position with the team, he still is active in the city of Boston. He recently was in a commercial for TD Bank and in it, it is quite apparent that he has gained a lot of weight. He looks like an entirely different person.
13 Hits the Gym: Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios had an unbelievable NHL career and because of this was able to stay in the league for over 25 seasons. This is an outstanding achievement because most players are lucky to even make it to 15. Chelios left a significant impact on every team he played for and because of this easily made it into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
It is important to note that the main reason why Chris Chelios was able to play in the NHL until the age of 48 was because of his ability to stay in marvellous shape. Chelios is the prime example of fitness in the hockey world and has luckily kept it since retirement. Today, Chelios still is extremely active in the gym and will look to continue this as the years continue to roll on.
12 Rides the Couch: Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk is a very happy man today because his son Matthew is one of the best players on the Calgary Flames and his other son, Brady, will be in the NHL very soon as well. Tkachuk enjoyed a very stellar NHL career because he not only was an elite goal scorer, but also was extremely physical. Tkachuk will be remembered mostly for his stints with the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues.
Since retirement, it is extremely apparent that Tkachuk has put on some extra weight, but that is perfectly normal. Tkachuk is putting a lot of his energy into trying to ensure that his sons end up having the best careers that they can. Tkachuk also now spends a lot of his free time coaching junior players in St. Louis and giving back to the community.
11 Rides the Couch: Kevin Stevens
Kevin Stevens became a superstar in the NHL when he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was mainly because he was playing with franchise players Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. As a result of this, Stevens' stats exploded when he hit his prime and everything seemed to look bright for the star. Yet after leaving the Penguins, Stevens true skill was shown and his stats fell off dramatically.
As a result of his declining play, Stevens retired fairly early in his career and began to focus on his family. It is important to note that Stevens has seen a significant weight gain since his retirement and that ultimately may be tied to his unhealthy living habits. Stevens recently was arrested for possession with intent to distribute prescription medication. Maybe Stevens should find his way back into the hockey world.
10 Hits the Gym: Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya will forever be known as one of the greatest players to have ever played for the Anaheim Ducks and as their first franchise star. Kariya is the main reason why the Anaheim Ducks became a popular franchise and it is very unfortunate that he was not able to be part of their 2007 Stanley Cup winning roster. Kariya never was able to win in the NHL, but he recently made the Hall of Fame this past summer.
Paul Kariya would end up retiring prematurely because of his continuous concussion issues and knee problems. Yet, even by the end of his career, Kariya was still a top notch player, but he sadly was too injury prone. Since retirement, it appears that Kariya has stayed in fairly decent shape and has not seen any significant weight gain. He must still be active in the gym.
9 Rides the Couch: Tony Amonte
During the prime years of his NHL career, Tony Amonte was one of the best pure goal scorers in the NHL. Amonte will primarily be remembered for his stint with the Chicago Blackhawks because that was where he found his stride and was their best player by far. Amonte’s career ended far too soon however, because he also had to deal with many injuries during it.
Since retirement, Tony Amonte has been the head coach of the Thayer Academy high school hockey club in Massachusetts. Yet, with this, Amonte has also gained a significant amount of weight since then and that could be due to the fact that he no longer follow a strict workout program. His weight gain is pretty apparent, but it also is likely that he can turn it around.
8 Rides the Couch: Adam Deadmarsh
Adam Deadmarsh may not be a very popular name to today’s NHL fans, but during his prime, Deadmarsh was one of the main reasons behind the Colorado Avalanche’s success in the 2000s. Deadmarsh was a top scorer when he was given the chance to play with Joe Sakic and from their, cemented himself as a talented and effective NHL forward.
As Adam Deadmarsh’s NHL career progressed, he began to experience an abundance of injuries. Yet, even with his significant injuries, Deadmarsh remained a very productive NHL player, but he simply could not continue playing. These injuries very well could have played an impact on his weight gain since leaving the NHL. His concussions problems made him not only be able to play in the NHL, but also even coach.
7 Hits the Gym: Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts was not only one the best scorers in the NHL during his career, but one of the fiercest as well. Roberts will always be remembered for his tenacious play and his ability to change the game with his clutch hitting and fighting. Yet, Roberts was so much more than a typical enforcer because he possessed an abundance of skill and was one of the top wingers on every team he played for.
Gary Roberts was a workhorse in his NHL career, so it is not surprising that he lasted in the NHL very long. Roberts has carried his work ethic to his retirement and today trains many of the NHL’s best players to keep them in shape. He even trains non NHL players as well. As a result of this, Roberts has not only has maintained his physique, but also is using his experience to help others.
6 Ride the Couch: Peter Worrell
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Peter Worrell was one of the scariest players in the entire NHL. He became very famous around the league for being the top enforcer for the Florida Panthers and made them a far tougher team. Although Worrell was never a superstar by any stretch of the imagination, he left a huge impact because of his ability to alter each and every game.
After finishing his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche in 2004, it became apparent that Worrell began to let himself go. Worrell is naturally a heavy set guy, but once he stopped doing strict conditioning for the NHL, he saw himself grow even larger. At the end of the day, Worrell should be remembered for being one of the scariest players to ever play in the league.
5 Rides the Couch: Mark Recchi
Mark Recchi had an extremely long NHL career and that is mainly because he was consistent and had the ability to stay healthy. For every team that Recchi played on, he was a huge impact because of not only his immense skill, but also his leadership. It was quite fitting that Recchi ended his NHL career by help carrying the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in over thirty years in 2011.
Mark Recchi was 43 years old when he finally retired from the NHL and deserves time to finally relax. Recchi recently was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and it is an honour that he absolutely deserves for all that he has accomplished. The only negative in his life right now is that he has seemed to put on some weight since his retirement, but that is extremely common.
4 Hits the Gym: Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest playmakers to have ever played in the NHL and led the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first two Stanley Cups. Had it not been for his numerous injuries and cancer diagnosis, he very well could have challenged Gretzky for the all time scoring record. Yet, Lemieux’s ability to come back from all of that and still dominate is truly amazing.
Lemieux would finally retire during the 2005-2006 season and eventually became the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise. Lemieux has helped build the Pittsburgh Penguins back into a Stanley Cup contender and it is fair to assume they will win again shortly. With all of this, it is remarkable to see that Lemieux has stayed in excellent shape and is around the same size he was during his playing days.
3 Rides the Couch: Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur is the greatest goalie to have ever played in the NHL and the main reason why the New Jersey Devils have three Stanley Cup championships in their history. It is quite a remarkable story when looking at him because he was not supposed to be as dominant as he was. Brodeur’s countless records and stellar performances will make him always remembered.
When the New Jersey Devils decided to move on from Martin Brodeur when he was 40, he decided to continue playing. Brodeur joined the St. Louis Blues on a short stint, but simply could not keep up with their depth chart. Since retiring, Brodeur has seemed to gain a decent amount of weight, but he can definitely manage it. After all, he is the best goalie of all time.
2 Rides the Couch: Eric Lindros
Eric Lindros will go down as not only one of the best players to ever play in the NHL, but also one of the most controversial. From the very start, Lindros made headlines for demanding a trade from the Quebec Nordiques right after they drafted him. Once be traded to the Flyers, he became one of the best in the league, but his attitude problems made him request a trade again.
Lindros was one of the top power forwards to ever play in the NHL because he not only was physical, but also had outstanding offensive awareness. Sadly for Lindros, concussions completely ruined his career and he would decline extremely quickly. Since retirement, Lindros has definitely put on significant weight as well. It must be hard for him to remain active with the constant head injuries.
1 Hits the Gym: Wayne Gretzky
The greatest player of all time in the NHL is Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky has set an abundance of records that will never be beaten and with that, he will be a name that will forever be cherished as history continues to roll on. Gretzky is the main reason why the Edmonton Oilers had immense success during the 1980s. He also left a huge impact on Los Angeles when he played for the Kings and made hockey in the west popular.
Today, Wayne Gretzky is still active in the NHL community and is partner and vice-chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group. Gretzky also is involved with the progression of the NHL today and still is extremely popular around the world. With all of this, it is awesome to see that Gretzky is still in remarkable shape. During the alumni games he played for the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues, Gretzky still looked like he was in his 30’s!