Sports fans often clamour for athletes to offer more in their daily dealings with the media and personal life in general. While it must be repetitive and feel redundant answering the SAME questions day in and day out, most fans would admit they prefer athletes who opt to let their real personalities shine through rather than curl up into a protective shell and speak cliché after cliché into the throng of microphones stuck in their faces. A little humour perhaps? A joke? A roll of the eyes when responding to a legitimately stupid question? Give us anything!
Social media has provided a platform for athletes to engage with fans on a once thought to be impossible level. Beyond the media scrums that provide a very limited view of a certain player’s character and personality, social media allows them to push the envelope further and expose themselves more for who they truly are (if they dare). Hockey players, for all their fame, are often described as boring (when compared to their NBA and NFL counter-parts). So with that in mind, let’s take a look at eight NHL players who buck that trend with their LOUD & LIT personalities, and seven who seem to be made of cardboard, choosing to seem stiff and reserved despite being paid to play a fun game!
15 Personality: Jaromir Jagr
The NHL’s ageless wonder has claimed he could play until he was 50 if all went well, which isn't likely. Jagr’s first NHL season was ALL THE WAY back in 1990. He’s approaching three decades in the NHL, minus the 3 seasons who bolted for the KHL, but he’s still managed to produce some great (and not so great) moments. He’s brushed off blackmail attempts and dances exactly how you’d imagine he would. Now with the Calgary Flames, it seems he’s finally coming to terms with the impending end to a truly magical run.
Sitting 2nd all-time in NHL points (with no chance of catching Wayne Gretzky for the top spot), it’s crazy to think just how many more points he could’ve racked up had he not missed those three seasons. Always a shining star, on and off the ice, I encourage all hockey fans to cherish the final years of the flow and his sound bites and appreciate everything he’s given the game of hockey.
14 Cardboard: Sidney Crosby
Yeah yeah yeah, he’s the best player in the world, but Sidney Crosby could certainly benefit from more POP! off the ice. Nobody can doubt his talent or legacy on the ice, but would it hurt to let loose every once in awhile!? Sid is essentially a perfect ten model who wears a t-shirt to swim. Stop teasing us and show us how you really feel!
He’s not without his flaws, having already produced some truly (in)famous moments during his hockey career, but on the personality spectrum, he couldn’t be further away from the first member of this list. Looking for a mind numbing cliché-filled interview? Sid the Kid will happily oblige. Crosby found himself in some hot water earlier in the year when he, along with the Penguins organization accepted an invitation to the White House to meet President Trump that actually involved zero drama.
13 Personality: PK Subban
It’s a fairly easy conclusion to reach: Pernell-Karl “P.K.” Sylvester Subban isn’t your typical hockey personality. A sport known for its quiet & often-reserved leaders who show little interest in self-promotion, Subban skates, rocks and rolls to the beat of his drum. And hockey could use more players like him!
Subban is one of the league’s most outgoing personalities, offering his time, energy, and financial resources for just about anyone or any cause. Along with his much talked about pledge of $10 million to the Montreal Children’s Hospital (largest ever by a Canadian athlete), and being a willing and enthusiastic advocate of various league causes, including Hockey Fights Cancer & Salute to Service, Subban’s eccentric demeanour still rubs a lot of people in the hockey world the wrong way. There’s no middle ground with PK Subban, you either LOVE him or you HATE him.
12 Cardboard: Sean Monahan
Forming half of Calgary’s young two-headed monster, Sean Monahan is as low key as they come. Much like Crosby (who he scarily resembles in some photos) Monahan speaks in fluent cliché-nglish and offers little else. Perhaps it’s the fear of disclosing too much, especially when playing in a Canadian market which brings with it higher stakes, but the Brampton born sniper rarely comes out of his shell. Here’s to hoping one of these off-seasons somebody catches him in Stampede mode during the city’s annual summer spectacle. He’s talented enough to overcome some minor off-ice adversity (just don’t be sinking too too low now!) For anyone who appreciates a quality twitter parody account, I highly recommend @boringmonahan
11 Personality: Patrick Kane
While I can’t condone his taxicab etiquette or treatment of women, I will applaud Kane for not being afraid to let loose and never being one to refuse a good time. Now I understand there have been rape allegations (later dropped due to lack of evidence) and many other missteps along the way, but despite these horrible actions (if true), Kane continues to be one of the more colourful personalities in the NHL.
Forming a dynamic tandem with Jonathan Toews, Kane has already won three Stanley Cups and hasn’t yet reached 30 years of age, which apparently is when you become washed up in today’s NHL (Kane will be different, but 30 seems to be the new 40). Playing in his 11th NHL season, let’s hope he’s finally grasped how to live it up without hurting anyone.
10 Cardboard: Andrei Markov
Andrei Markov played his entire NHL career in one market, and it happened to be in Montreal. In 16 seasons, Markov was treated to a fan base who isn’t all that concerned with throwing praise your way. Along with his quiet but highly effective style on the ice, Markov was a mute off it. He rarely divulged much in interviews and while he spent countless years as an assistant captain, he never appeared all that keen to wear the “C” in hockey-crazed Montreal.
In somewhat shocking fashion, Markov wound up leaving the NHL this past off-season, returning to the KHL after negotiations with the Canadiens seemingly fell apart. I wish Markov, given the present situation that sees him still playing at a high level and the Canadiens struggling mightily, would be more vocal about his displeasure with how things ended with the only team he knew.
9 Personality: Patrick Roy
Magnificent goalie? Absolutely. First-class crazed lunatic? Also very true. The former Habs & Avalanche goaltender had a truly decorated playing career, highlighted by multiple Stanley Cups, numerous individual accolades and records. Never shy to speak his mind or give his opinion on any matter, Roy shockingly resigned from his role with the Avalanche back in 2016, two years removed from winning the Jack Adams Award given to the league’s top coach. Additionally, he has yet to find NHL employment since resigning from his post with the Avalanche. The NHL could stand to benefit from the attention Roy would garner if he were around. After all, any publicity is good publicity, no?
8 Cardboard: Carey Price
Much like Roy, Price was anointed the Canadiens’ saviour at a very young age. At first, the results were mixed, with Price struggling to live up to the hype generated by going fifth overall in 2005. There was a point not too long ago where it looked as though he could lose his job to Jaroslov Halak.
Early in his career, Price was far more open and outgoing when it came to divulging his feelings and opinions (good or bad). He quickly found out where that got him in Montreal. Eventually, whether it be due to married life, being a father, or the natural learning process, Price settled into a boring version of himself, electing to answer questions with clichés and little emotion. Sure, he may be a swell guy in the room and on road trips, but to most fans Carey Price is as blah as they come from an off-ice entertainment standpoint.
7 Personality: Andrew Hammond
Andrew Hammond captivated hockey fans back in 2015 when he posted a 20-1-2 record in 24 games down the stretch with the Ottawa Senators, Hammond quickly became a hero in the Canadian capital, with the Sens Army anointing him The Hamburglar, for his penchant of robbing his opposition of goals. Before long, it was common to see hamburgers rain down on the ice at Senators home games following a Hammond authored victory. Not one to miss an opportunity, McDonald’s reportedly presented Hammond with a card that made him eligible for free hamburgers for life.
Through it all, Hammond embraced the attention and notoriety. He’d engage with fans at the rink and out in public and soaked up every minute he could without having to abandon his need for privacy entirely. In the end, Hammond would wind up back in the AHL, his play falling off considerably (Hammond was recently traded to the Colorado Avalanche).
6 Cardboard:Connor McDavid
McDavid is poetry on ice personified. Muck like how LeBron provides countless Can’t Miss Moments, so does McDavid. Possessing a level of speed and puck wizardry not seen on this planet EVER (I mean that), he stands to assume the title of Best Player Alive once Crosby finally regresses.
Much like his main competition for hockey supremacy, he offers little in his media dealings and off-ice interactions. Quiet, shy, and downright awkward in most of his fan dealings, Connor McDavid is still growing into being arguably the most popular athlete in Canada. Who can forget his epic photo op with two fans at his home airport? Credit to McDavid who did briefly come out of his shell this past Halloween when he and his lady friend dressed up as Donald & Melania Trump, for which he of course was criticized. More of that Connor! People will get used to it.
5 Personality: Evander Kane
Kane, for all his talent, has an equally impactful personality. Famous for posing with stacks of cash on a Vegas balcony, he routinely speaks his mind in the media and isn’t shy to say or do anything. Much like Subban, Kane’s demeanour is a far cry from what traditionally has been expected from a hockey player. Part of what’s made Kane’s career to this point so polarizing is his inability to produce consistently, opting instead for streaks of greatness, countered by bouts of sheer ineptitude. Because of his hot/cold play, people view his personality as the cause and often criticize him. Regardless of how he trends from here, it’s hard to call into question his commitment to fitness and living the High Life.
4 Cardboard: Jonathan Toews
As I alluded too previously, Toews has been a model player and captain in the NHL for years. Three Stanley Cups along with a Conn Smythe; it’s hard to criticize Toews’ performance on the ice. However, criticizing his personality (or lack thereof) off the ice is a whole other story.
Boring, bland, disinterested; one could pull from an almost infinite list of words to describe the off-ice approach taken by Mr. Serious. While it’s highly likely that Toews opens up when the cameras aren’t rolling or to partake in a Cup celebration, for the most part he opts to fly under the radar. For some, that just seems to be the tried and true path to success, but it certainly doesn’t make for interesting social media browsing! Get your hands dirty sometimes Jonathan!
3 Personality: Brent Burns
JUST LOOK AT HIM! I actually can’t decide what Brent Burns looks like so feel free to suggest anything your heart desires. Burns has been as dominant a defenseman as the league has seen in recent memory, having been awarded the Norris Trophy last season. Apart from his on-ice dominance, Burns is as jubilant as they come away from the game. From his flashy wardrobe, to his wild hairstyles (toss in the big gap in his teeth), Burns embraces the spotlight as much as anyone and goes out of his way for entertainment value any way he can, especially come All-Star game time when he willingly participates in the circus the NHL, and fans seem to crave. He’s got the face and beard of an offensive lineman (and hair more commonly seen on the soccer pitch)
2 Cardboard: Auston Matthews
A kid from Scottsdale, Arizona playing in Toronto, widely considered the centre of the hockey universe (just don’t tell anybody from Montreal that), Matthews hasn’t taken long to establish himself as a dominant player in the NHL. Unfortunately for all of us, the excitement attached to Auston Matthews starts and stops on the ice.
In front of the cameras, Matthews comes off as shy and extremely reserved. Still young, it’s very understandable that Matthews has opted for this route and you hope as he matures in the NHL he will open up and bring some of his on-ice flare off of it. I’m sure Leaf fans are perfectly fine with Matthews maintaining a low profile, but for everyone else, why not throw in some more dicey dealings Auston?
1 Personality: Sean Avery ‘The Super Pest’
Today’s NHL has many pests, but none compare to what Sean Avery was when he spread through the league like an incurable virus. He infamously quipped about giving Dion Phaneuf his sloppy seconds (a reference to his past relationship with Phaneuf’s wife Elisha Cuthbert). He is also famous for his unconventional screening tactics used on Martin Brodeur during a five-on-three power play in the 2008 playoffs. Wherever controversy went, Sean Avery was close by.
He openly criticized former coach John Tortorella, claiming he was happy not only for himself, but for the Rangers and their fans when Tortorella was fired back in 2013. In retirement, Avery has found his place working in advertising, while also being somewhat relevant in the fashion industry. He is an investor in Twtmob, has presented clothing lines for NYC Fashion Week and by all accounts is still very much a live wire capable of absolutely anything.