To make it in the NHL, one must continue to stay in remarkable shape, or they will find their way out of the league quickly. NHL fans have seen moments like these occur quite frequently and with that said, it can be a bit frustrating. Something important to recognize is that the majority of NHL superstars who end up having long careers are some of the fittest people around the league. Today’s superstars have to follow an even more strict workout program because the game is continuing to increase in speed. This is a key reason why the role of the enforcer has seen a massive decline around the league. When NHL players retire, it is easy for them to move away from their fitness life and this ends up leading to some increase in body mass.
In this article, we will be looking at eight former NHL players who have remained fit and seven who now can’t fit into their pants. The names on this list are all very recognizable because they all were extremely talented players and many even Hall of Famers. It is quite intriguing to see the directions that they all have taken with their lives outside of the NHL because there truly was no way to predict where they would end up. At the end of the day, however, these are players who should be ultimately respected for all that they have done for the game of hockey. Yet, fitness is something that should never disappear from one’s life.
Nonetheless, let’s look at the eight players who stayed fit and seven who can’t fit in their pants anymore!
15 Fit: Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya will forever be remembered as the first franchise player for the Anaheim Ducks and the main reason for their success during the early 2000s. Kariya was easily the most clutch player to ever play in Anaheim and that was displayed perfectly with his goal in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.
Paul Kariya sadly suffered from an abundance of head injuries and had to retire prematurely. Yet, even with these issues, Kariya has clearly stayed physically active because he is in fantastic shape to this day. In fact, it is clear that nothing has really even changed. He looks like he could still play.
14 Not: Adam Deadmarsh
Adam Deadmarsh was one of the top players on the Colorado Avalanche during their time as the top team in the NHL. When looking at Deadmarsh’s career, it is apparent that he was a very solid player, but injuries ultimately derailed his career. This was truly sad because Deadmarsh had the potential to accomplish much more.
Adam Deadmarsh still suffers from head problems today and that is impacting his quality of life. Deadmarsh looks entirely different than he did during his NHL career and that is because he has gained a fair amount of weight. This can easily be attributed the atrocious effects from his head injuries that may limit his physical activity, and that just isn’t fair to him.
13 Fit: Brendan Shanahan
Brendan Shanahan was an extremely tenacious hockey player, but also an elite talent. Shanahan was an outstanding goal scorer who would never shy away from the physical elements of the game. This is what made him such a spectacular player and a fan favourite for every team he played on.
Today, Brendan Shanahan is doing a fantastic job as President of the Toronto Maple Leafs and is leading them to a lot of success. His direction for the team is clearly paying off and now they are looking like true contenders once again. With all the time he is spending on making them succeed, he also has stayed in marvellous shape. He was always one of the more fit players, and he has continued that to this day.
12 Not: Eric Lindros
Eric Lindros came into the NHL with a bang when he refused to join the Quebec Nordiques. After being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Lindros became the most dominant power forward in the game and flirted with being considered the best in the league. There was not many who could keep up with Lindros during his prime.
Eric Lindros would end up having to retire young because of his concussion issues. This was terrible to see because Lindros clearly could have done so much more if it had not been for these. Since retiring, Lindros looks entirely different and has gained a bit of weight. However, he is also just got inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
11 Fit: Mark Messier
Mark Messier may be the greatest captain and leader in the history of the NHL. The way he led the New York Rangers to their long overdue Stanley Cup in 1994 with his promised win was truly remarkable. Messier was not only an immense superstar, but was extremely tough and a real fighter.
Mark Messier was clearly in fantastic shape during his NHL career because he managed to play until his mid 40s. That is a rare accomplishment for a sport like hockey, but he did it with flying colours. Messier has continued to stay active since retirement and physically looks the same as he did during his prime years.
10 Not: Jeff O’Neill
Jeff O’Neill had a solid NHL career when he was healthy and was one of the top players for the Carolina Hurricanes in his prime. Although O’Neill wasn’t considered a franchise type player, he was an effective goal scorer and top-six forward. It is likely that O’Neill could have played longer if he had no experienced so many injuries.
Upon retiring, Jeff O’Neill has become an active analyst for TSN. O’Neill looks extremely different since his playing days and it is apparent that he has gained a significant amount of weight. Yet, O’Neill is a very entertaining analyst and has done a great job since filling in that role.
9 Fit: Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux is one of the best players to have ever played in the NHL and arguably the best scorer after Wayne Gretzky. Lemieux’s outstanding ability is what led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups during the 1990s. If it had not been for his numerous injuries and cancer battle, it is likely that Lemieux would have won far more.
Even though Mario Lemieux has lingering effects from injuries, he still is very active today. He is currently the President of the Pittsburgh Penguins and has done a solid job with restoring the glory of the franchise. It is apparent that staying active in the hockey community has kept him in amazing shape as well.
8 Not: Tony Amonte
Tony Amonte was one of the most underrated superstars during his prime because he played for a struggling Chicago Blackhawks club. Amonte was a dominant sniper when he was healthy and on his game, and that is what made him so beloved by the city. He would end up finishing his career with a solid resume.
Tony Amonte has been active in the hockey community since retiring as well. He has worked as an analyst and also is the head coach of his former high school, Thayer Academy. Yet, Amonte has also changed significantly due to an apparent weight gain. His is probably the most noticeable by far.
7 Fit: Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic will forever be remembered as the face of the Colorado Avalanche and as their greatest captain. Sakic’s leadership is what led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cups during his tenure with the club and he is still beloved for all that he delivered to the city. His passing ability is what makes him one of the best playmakers in the history of the NHL.
Today, Joe Sakic is currently the general manager of the Avalanche and is trying to get them back in a strong place. Even though the job is clearly stressful, Sakic has done a great job staying in shape and still looks like he could handle the NHL. Sakic has been handling the pressures of the rebuild extremely well it seems.
6 Not: Brad Park
Brad Park is often forgotten in Boston Bruins’ history, but he was one of the best players in their history. Park was traded to the Bruins by the New York Rangers for former franchise player, Phil Esposito. When arriving to Boston, Park instantly meshed well with Bobby Orr and the Bruins remained a dominant force.
Brad Park would end up being a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and that is an honour he truly deserved. Park was absolutely dominant in his prime and one of the best players in the league. Yet, time has not been too kind with Park over the years and he has gained a huge amount of weight. It comes with age, however.
5 Fit: Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky is by far the greatest hockey player to have ever played the game. He is the reason why the Edmonton Oilers won so many times in the 1980s and why hockey is popular in California today. His statistical accomplishments are unmatchable and he will hold the majority of his records for all of eternity.
When Wayne Gretzky retired in 2000, it was an extremely sad day for hockey. Although he was 40, we all wished he could have stayed in the NHL for a little longer. Gretzky is currently still involved with the Edmonton Oilers and has managed to stay in remarkable shape in the process.
4 Not: Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque was the most loyal Boston Bruin and managed to play with them for twenty seasons. Bourque desperately wanted to win the Stanley Cup with them, but when it became impossible for that to occur, the Bruins finally shipped him away to the Colorado Avalanche. It was there that Bourque finally had the chance to win and then retire.
Ray Bourque has stayed active in the hockey community and even has been in ads for pop culture. Bourque is still a legend in Boston and is beloved by the city that he called him for decades. Although Ray Bourque may have gained a decent amount of weight, his legacy will never be tarnished.
3 Fit: Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios is one of the best defenseman in the history of the NHL and his career was truly a beautiful one. Chelios was a dominant force during his prime, but the most amazing part of his career was that he played until his late 40s. This just showed how outstanding he was at hockey and made him a legend.
Chris Chelios was clearly a fitness freak to have been able to stay in the league for as long as he did, but today he is even better. Chelios is in his mid 50s, but he looks like he is still able to play in the NHL. Chelios is someone who other NHL players should look up to because his fitness consistency is outstanding.
2 Not: Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk is one of the best American players in the history of the NHL. His tenacious playing style mixed with his goal scoring ability made him a top notch player during his prime. Tkachuk saw most of his success when he played for the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. Yet, this is why he never ended up winning a Stanley Cup.
Keith Tkachuk managed to stay in the NHL for quite some time, but age eventually caught up to him. Since retiring, Tkachuk has went through a very apparent transformation, but not in a good way. Tkachuk has gained a large amount of weight and looks nothing like his past self.
1 Fit: Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts was a fantastic hockey player, but he lacked discipline in the process. When Roberts was on the ice, he was a threat because he would either be offensively dominant or vicious and dirty on the ice. Roberts was not afraid to answer the bell for his actions and that is why he accumulated an immense amount of penalty minutes during his career.
Today, Gary Roberts is still involved in hockey today, but to a different capacity. Roberts trains a variety of hockey players in the weight room and keeps them in shape during the summer. Roberts is arguably the most fit out of all former NHL players today. It is remarkable that he has been able to build himself another career post retirement.