Being in peak physical condition is part of the job when it comes to being a professional athlete. While there was a time when skill outweighed conditioning, in today's game they are of equal importance. Every NHL team now has trainers who design workout programs and diet plans. Not only are players expected to workout during the season, they are expected to workout even harder during the offseason.
While players have people making sure they eat healthily and stay in shape during their careers when they retire they are all on their own. An NHL player has to eat a ton of food in order to continue to gain muscle mass. The problem is a lot of players continue to eat like a pig after their careers are over without working out. This is the main reason why players get fat after they retire.
However, not all players give up on their bodies once they hang them up. They use what they learned about exercise and eating well and are still in fantastic shape long past their retirement.
22 Let Go: Brett Hull
Brett Hull is one the greatest goal scorers in NHL history. With his patented slap shot at his disposal, he scored an amazing 741 career NHL goals. Hull was never the fastest player, but that didn't matter as once the puck was on his stick, more often than not it was right back off his stick and in the net.
During the prime of Hull's career, speed and conditioning weren't something that was super integral in the NHL. However, during the last part of his career Hull's conditioning became so poor that he knew the "new" NHL was too fast for him. Just five games into the 2005-06 season, Hull decided he was too out of shape for the NHL and he retired. A decade since retiring Hull looks like he might have trouble skating a single lap around the rink without getting winded.
21 Fit: Trevor Linden
Although Trevor Linden didn't have a Hall of Fame career, he still made a big impact during his 19 NHL seasons. Linden played for four different NHL teams during his career but will always be remembered as being a Vancouver Canuck. He played over 1100 games with the Canucks where he established himself as one of the best leaders and all-around players in franchise history.
Linden was all about staying fit during his career, and he has taken that to another level since retiring in 2008. Linden is a competitive cyclist, having once competed in a 600 km race. He has also opened up his own gym in Vancouver called Club 16.
20 Let Go: Tony Amonte
Tony Amonte had a great but fairly under-appreciated NHL career. He may not have won any individual awards or even a Stanley Cup, but he was a productive player throughout his career. As a rookie with the New York Rangers, Amonte was impressive as he finished second on the team with 35 goals. He had the best years of his career as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. He had three seasons with the Blackhawks where he scored forty-plus goals.
Amonte finished up his playing career in 2007 with the Calgary Flames. Since hanging up his skates Amonte has done some coaching as well as some broadcasting. If you get a chance to see him on television, you might not actually recognize him since he looks nothing like he did during his playing days.
19 Fit: Claude Lemieux
When the rumours started circulating in 2008 that Claude Lemieux was trying to make an NHL comeback at the age of 43, it sounded like a joke. Given his age and the fact that he hadn't played an NHL game in over five years, the comeback seemed impossible. However, Lemieux defied the odds and would play 18 games with San Jose Sharks that year.
Lemieux had remained in shape following his initial retirement in 2003. Since hanging up his skates for good in 2009, it looks like he has continued to keep his body in top shape. Even now at the age of 52, it wouldn't be all that surprising if he was able to keep up on the ice with players half his age.
18 Let Go: Jeff O'Neill
Jeff O’Neill was a star player in junior, scoring a combined 87 goals during his final two seasons. Those numbers were good enough for him to be taken fifth overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1994 Draft. It took some time for O’Neill to find his footing in the NHL, but by the 1999-00 season, he recorded his first of five 20 goal-plus seasons. The best year of his career was by far the 2000-01 season with Carolina when he scored a superb 41 goals.
O’Neill’s career went downhill when he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005. His time with Toronto only lasted two seasons, before he retired in 2007 at the young age of 31. Since hanging up his skates, O’Neill has taken up a career in broadcasting. Although you don't see much more than his face on television, that's more than enough to tell he is out of shape.
17 Fit: Martin Lapointe
Martin Lapointe was one the underrated players on the Detroit Red Wings teams that won back to back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. Lapointe was the perfect type of player for the gruelling NHL playoffs. He was a gritty player who wasn't afraid of going into the corners. Besides his toughness, he also provided some decent goal scoring ability. In the 1998 playoffs, Lapointe finished second on the Wings with nine goals.
After a career season with Detroit in 2000-01 where he recorded a career-high 57 points, he signed with Boston. Although he had a couple of good seasons as a Bruin, injuries would eventually derail his career. With Lapointe no longer playing hockey every day, it looks like he has more time to hit the gym. He currently looks more like a bodybuilder than a hockey player.
15 Let Go: Adam Deadmarsh
Out of all the entries on this list, Adam Deadmarsh has a legit excuse for his weight gain. Deadmarsh was a more than solid NHL player who played an integral role in the Colorado Avalanche winning their first Stanley Cup in 1996.
Deadmarsh was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 2001. He was coming off a career-high 62 point season with the Kings when he suffered a career-ending concussion in 2002. Although Deadmarsh has continued to remain in the game through coaching, his post-concussion syndrome looks like it may have stopped him from going to the gym as he's looking a bit chubby these days.
14 Fit: Dallas Eakins
Dallas Eakins was a solid minor league defenceman, but he just could never find a permanent role in the NHL. In his 120 game NHL career, Eakins played for seven different teams. His career season came in 1997-98 when he got into a career-high 23 games with the Florida Panthers.
While Eakins wasn't too successful in hockey as a player, since retiring in 2004 he has become a well-respected coach. Eakins biggest fame to claim was being the Edmonton Oilers head coach for just over a season. While the team did struggle on the ice, Eakins did help the players off the ice. Eakins is a big believer in proper nutrition and rest between games and he preaches that to every team he coaches. Besides eating well, Eakins keeps his body fit by enjoying his hobby as a competitive cyclist.
12 Let Go: Lyndon Byers
While Lyndon Byers showed some goal scoring ability when he was drafted, he wasn't much more than a tough guy when he entered the NHL. Byers spent all but one of his ten NHL seasons as a member of the Boston Bruins. His best season came in 1987-88 when he recorded a career-high 24 points and a whopping 236 penalty minutes.
After failing to crack an NHL roster Byers spent his last couple of seasons in the minors. During his playing career, Byers weighed around the 200 lb mark. Today it looks like he could easily tip the scale at over 300 lbs. His head has also seemed to be double in size since his playing days.
11 Fit: Mark Messier
Mark Messier played an incredible 25 NHL seasons during his illustrious NHL career. Besides being a two-time Hart Trophy winner, Messier won an astonishing six Stanley Cups. It wasn't until the age of 43 that he finally decided there was nothing left for him to accomplish, so he retired.
Although Messier slowed down a bit later in his career, he wouldn't have been able to play into his forties if he wasn't in fantastic shape. Just because Messier no longer plays hockey professionally, doesn't mean he's now out of shape. Messier believes that being in great shape is an important part of everybody's mental makeup.
10 Let Go: Bruce Boudreau
While most people know Bruce Boudreau as one the most successful NHL coaches of the past decade, he was actually at one point a fine hockey player. While he didn't play a ton of NHL games, he was a fantastic scorer in the minors. He had six seasons in the minor leagues where he passed the 100 point plateau.
After wrapping up his playing career in 1992, Boudreau would coach for 16 seasons before finally getting his shot at being an NHL head coach in 2007. It seems like Boudreau has done a bit stress eating since moving up the big leagues. His former star player Alex Ovechkin at one point made light of Boudreau 's weight.
9 Fit: Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne is the most recent retiree on this list having finally retired in 2014 at the age 43. Although Selanne would have probably liked to play even more, his career is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. He burst into the league in 1992-93 with the Winnipeg Jets, scoring a record-breaking 76 goals as a rookie.
After leaving Winnipeg, Selanne went on to become a legend while playing for the Anaheim Ducks. Although it looked like Selanne's career was coming to an end in 2004 due to knee problems, surgery and his intense conditioning allowed him to play for another decade. it's been a few years since Selanne played his last NHL game. However, by the great shape he's still in today, he looks like he could lace them back up and not miss a beat.
8 Let Go: Peter Worrell
The late 1990's and early 2000's was a prime era for tough guys in the NHL. One of the toughest players during that time was Peter Worrell. Although he put up a surprising amount of points in junior, Worrell provided little offence during his NHL career. What he lacked in offence, he more than made up for it with his toughness.
During his seven-season NHL career, Worrell always put up plenty of penalty minutes. However, during the 2001-02 season, he spent a ton of time in the sin bin. Worrell led the NHL with an astounding 354 penalty minutes, which was 100 more penalty minutes than the next closest player. Worrell's NHL career ended when he came back from the 2004-05 lockout and was way out of shape. By the looks of Worrell today, it seems like his physical condition has continued to trend downwards.
7 Fit: Rod Brind'Amour
When it comes to player's and their fitness, there might not have been a bigger "fitness freak" than Rod "The Bod" Brind'Amour. He was just twelve years old when he started lifting weights and he never stopped from that point. If you look at pictures of him during his playing career, he looks more like a professional wrestler than a hockey player.
Although Brind'Amour retired from the game in 2010, that hasn't stopped him from still being a gym rat. Not only does he continue to keep his body in top shape, he is now helping others with their conditioning as an assistant coach with the Carolina Hurricanes. Although Brind'Amour is in his late forties, it wouldn't be a huge stretch to say he's probably in better shape than half of the players he coaches.
6 Let Go: Eric Lacroix
Eric Lacroix had a decent NHL career as a gritty checking line player. After not finding a consistent role with either Toronto or Los Angeles, he finally found a spot with Colorado. He played the two best seasons of his NHL career while with the Avalanche. His career year came in 1997-98 when he notched a career-high 18 goals and 36 points.
Lacroix was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1999. That trade ended up being the downfall of Lacroix's career as he only managed to play two more mediocre seasons before retiring. After his playing career was over Lacroix stayed in the game working in a management role. It looks like he has gotten a bit too comfortable sitting in a chair all day because he has packed on a large amount of weight in recent years.
5 Fit: Gary Roberts
When it comes to fitness and hockey, the name of Gary Roberts usually comes up. Roberts had a lengthy NHL career, playing until the age of 42. He was able to play as long as he did because he was an absolute fitness machine.
After calling it a career in 2010, Roberts focused his efforts on helping other players get into peak physical condition. One of his first notable trainees was Steven Stamkos. The young player was having a slow start to his NHL career, but he became a fifty goal scorer after spending just one Summer with Roberts. After his success with Stamkos, players started flocking to Roberts hoping he could help take their careers to another level.
4 Let Go: Kevin Stevens
In a weird way, Kevin Stevens could blame Mario Lemieux for both his success and his eventual downfall. Stevens had the luxury of playing with Mario early on in his NHL career and had some terrific seasons with the Penguins. In the early 1990's Stevens had back to back seasons of 50 plus goals and 100 plus points.
With all the success Stevens had in Pittsburgh, it brought fame and a ton a money. In hindsight he would have been smart to save some of his earnings, instead he used the money to party and buy drugs. By the early 2000's, Stevens substance abuse problems killed his career. Post-retirement life has not gotten any better for him. Not only has he battled serious legal problems in recent years, he has also gained a substantial amount of weight since his playing days.
3 Fit: Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios will go down in history as one of the best defencemen to ever play the game. During his legendary NHL career, Chelios won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman on three different occasions. Despite all his great stats, the one thing most people will remember about him was his longevity. Chelios played his first NHL game in 1984 and didn't hang up his skates until 1651 games later in 2010.
Chelios was able to hold his own in the NHL well into his forties because of his great conditioning. Chelios was more fit than players half his age. It's been seven years since he retired and he arguably looks better now than he has ever before. Although Chelios is now in his mid-fifties, he has the body of a thirty-year-old.
2 Let Go: Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk (pictured right) had a fantastic NHL career. During his prime, he was one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the league with him once having back to back fifty goal seasons. While nobody ever questioned Tkachuk's goal-scoring abilities, people definitely questioned his conditioning.
During the latter part of his career, Tkachuk's weight became a major issue. When the NHL went into a lockout in 2004-05, he sat out the entire season. When he came into training camp in 2005, he failed his physical due to his conditioning and was suspended by the St. Louis Blues. Now that Tkachuk has no one monitoring him, his weight has gone completely out of control. He's almost unrecognizable today due to his massive weight gain.
1 1. Fit: Brendan Shanahan
Brendan Shanahan currently has one of the most high-pressure jobs in the NHL as the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, before he stepped behind a desk he established himself as one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time. Besides his first and last season, Shanahan always at least hit the twenty goal plateau, including two seasons where he scored more than fifty. In the end, he netted an impressive 656 goals in 1524 career NHL games.
A recent picture emerged of Shanahan vacationing with his kids, and he looked absolutely shredded. He was asked how he managed to stay in shape post his playing career. His answer was that he was addicted to running, He actually had to stop running earlier in his career due to his sore knees, but once he hung up his skates he was able to put back on his running shoes.