Hockey players sporting a toothless smile is as iconic as any image in all of sports. Fans find their gummy grins endearing and lovable, and players flaunt their smiles like a badge of honor. And you know what, it is.
Ice hockey has more characters, more chaos, passion, triumph, and tragedy than any sport. It literally takes all types, EVERY single player, to make a team go. Swallow the cliche and you'll see it's often the 3rd or 4th liners that contribute in the clutch. The engine only hums when each part works in synchronicity. Though first and fourth liners, top pairing "D" and the 7th defenseman, and both goaltenders achieve different levels of attention and fame, they lose teeth just the same.
Every player leaves their body and mind on the ice and sometimes they even leave body parts. For better and worse, hockey players play through cuts, broken bones, blood, and pain. They do it for their teammates, fans, and themselves in their drive to be champions.
The journey is long, grueling, and things go wrong. Players are always vulnerable to intentional bone crushing hits on every play. They are also vulnerable to accidents, where sticks, skates, elbows, knuckles, and pucks fly at them from every angle. Sometimes the lines blur but the results are cuts, black eyes, and lost teeth.
These are some of the most everlasting photos of hockey players without their teeth. Some were stars, heroes, villains, grinders, but they all share the infamous look of a hockey player. There aren't any Simon Cowell like smiles on the ice.
15 Sean Couturier
If any team symbolizes the toothless smile it's the Philadelphia Flyers, and Couturier continues that tradition. In his 7th season, the former first round pick shows that despite the "new game," where physicality is more controlled and players have more protective gear, players still proudly display their missing "chicklets." It's kind of curious how our no.14 entry lost his teeth. Not the most physical player nor the most talented, he probably lost them in some bizarre, non hockey way. My bet is he slipped in the bathtub or got hit by a pitch during a softball game, but like they say, he'd probably tell us he lost them scoring an overtime goal. Whatever the truth is, he's laughing about it and the cameraman caught his jubilant expression.
14 Sidney Crosby
So how does the captain of the current Stanley Cup champions lose his teeth? He could've lost them by a desperate, beat defenseman, during a scuffle, or on a deflection. Some fans would even say it he deserves losing teeth and it probably makes sucking on his pacifier a little easier. But how did the superstar and scoring machine lose his teeth?
During his rookie year, one of the greatest rivalries in the NHL between the Philadelphia Flyers vs Pittsburgh Penguins, escalated as Sid, the new face of the NHL took the ice. He went one on one with one of the meanest, nastiest, dirtiest old school defenseman named Derian Hatcher. As he tried to slide between Hatcher and the boards, Derian lined him up and smashed him against the glass and drove him to the ice. Sid was down and left scrambling, on his knees, looking for his teeth.
13 Craig Anderson
Anderson was 32 years old when he lost this "chicklet." On May 2nd in 2013, the Ottawa Senators goalie took a shot to the mask in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens. The force of the shot was enough to knock one of his front teeth out. And remember, goalies back in the day didn't wear masks. But they do now, and Anderson's boyish smile and gleaming eyes show off his pride in surviving a shot to the grill. Now in his 16th season, Anderson has seen it all. This past year, his wife was diagnosed with cancer and he took a leave of absence in the heart of the season to be with his family. In his first game back he posted a goose egg and was given a standing ovation by opposing fans and players. His wife is now cancer free and lets hope the force stays with them.
12 Carey Price
Craig Anderson wasn't the only player to lose some teeth in that 2013 playoff series with Montreal. In fact, he wasn't the only goaltender to lose his teeth. His opponent 200 feet away from him also suffered a similar fate in Game 2 of that series as Carey Price. Rather than taking a puck to his jaw, Price actually suffered an errant skate hitting his mouth from his own defenceman Jarred Tinordi. Price, cool as a cucumber, picked his teeth off the ice, brought it over to the trainer and asked him to save them. Price would eventually get his teeth fixed, but for a brief moment, Price was caught without some choppers. Price is normally revered for his handsome looks, but he was just another toothless hockey player that night.
11 Duncan Keith
Duncan Keith and his #2 will be forever linked to the current Blackhawk dynasty that has won three Cups over the past seven years. The Original 6 franchise had gone 48 years since winning the Cup and joined their neighbors, the Cubs, as an exercise in futility. But the pieces came together and during the 2009- 10 season, Keith, Kane, Toews, and company got it done. It took Keith having 7 teeth knocked out during the playoffs but the steady, gifted, and smooth defenseman didn't miss a shift. His game never stuttered and he kept pressing offensively while clamping down is his own end. He just smothers everyone, all over the ice. If you need to know if it was worth it, here's the only proof you need.
10 Logan Couture
Yeah, he's a hockey player. And yeah, this is what happens when the puck is headed right for your face and there's no place to hide. The Sharks were in a playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers when he didn't duck the puck and he was rushed to the hospital. It took him two weeks to breathe normally, and that plastic band was part of the gizmo that held his remaining teeth in place. His palate had collapsed, and though he couldn't eat solid foods for a few days he continued to play. He finished the series with 3 points in 6 games. He lost 7 or 8 teeth, the Sharks lost the series, and his team mates and friends teased Logan that at least he'd no longer be called a "pretty boy."
“It’s not pleasant,” Couture said. “It’s not fun.”
9 Dan Carcillo
Would you be surprised that Carcillo's nick name was "Car Bomb"? How bout' the fact that he and Shawn Thornton were the first 2 players to drop the gloves during the Winter Classic in 2010? Or maybe, that this mug won two Cups, in 2013 and 2015 with Chicago. With all the fisticuffs Carcillo was involved in during his career, it's probably not surprising to see that some of his chiclets were knocked out. Carcillo will also be remembered for his fights against alcohol and substance abuse and how his good friend and teammate, Steve Montador, helped him get clean. Montador battled concussions and he died in 2015. Carcillo then started the "Chapter 5 Foundation," which helps players with post concussion syndrome, addiction, depression, and anxiety.
8 Brent Burns
Brent Burns, the monster defenseman on San Jose, might be one of the most beloved players in the league. He is 6'5" tall, 230 pounds, and can skate around or through players. His shot is like the Mighty Ducks' Fulton Jones and makes every player on the ice duck. He punishes opponents in every zone, but he is a gentle giant. He wears his character and reputation well and has almost a cult like following because he is so down to earth and humble.
His beard is long and bushy, his hair in either cornrows or a pony tail, and his outfits are as colorful and wacky as any athlete in any sport. Like most hockey players, he is accessible and fans adore his free wheeling style both on and off the ice.
7 Alexander Ovechkin
Alexander Ovechkin is arguably the best sniper in the game. His spot, just above the face off circle, burns everyone. Ovie also plays with his head up and combines skill and power like few others. But just because he is as skilled as they come, doesn't mean he hides when the game turns rough. The Great 8 is a marksman and a bull. In 11 seasons, he's scored over 50 goals 7 times including 65 in the 2007-08 season.
Though his critics point to his lackluster playoff performances and that his rival, Sidney Crosby, has won three cups, he commands respect every time he hits the ice. He is just another pure, good hearted star who donates money, time, blood, and teeth. Lots of teeth.
6 Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe was the perfect hockey player. His nicknames include "Mr. Hockey", "Mr. Everything," "The Most," "The Great Gordie," "The King," "The Legend," "No. 9," and "Mr. Elbows." Howe began dominating the league with his physical play, his shot, and a refusal to lose any battle or shift. He played 26 years for the Detroit Red Wings where his jersey is retired. He played a total of 1,767 games, scored 801 goals, 1,049 assists, and racked up 1,685 penalty minutes. He was also named after a much sought after achievement, the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," which consisted of a goal, assist, and a fight in the same game. Ironically, he only achieved the feat a handful of times in his career but in many ways it only enhances his lore.
By the time he finished his hockey career in Hartford, it was clear he had given plenty of time to get familiar with his dentist.
5 Chris Neil
Straight up, on the ice, Neil was about as nasty as they come. He played 15 years, all with the Ottawa Senators, and though he scored more than 10 goals only 5 times he was a fan favorite in Ottawa, ONLY. He racked up 200 penalty minutes four times and over 100 in 13 seasons. That's a lot of time in "the sin bin," and he earned every second. He fought, caused havoc, threw elbows, and played his guts out every game. He was also a dirty player but then again, it's nearly impossible "to be a saint in (any hockey) city." When his team-mate, Mike Fisher married country music star and die hard Nashville Predators fan, Carrie Underwood, he was the life of the party. We wonder what stunts he pulled with his infamous gap.
4 Mike Ricci
If you want to see what a 16 year hockey career does to a player's face, check out pictures of Ricci when he was a rookie with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1990. Back in those days, his hair was short, his nose sharp and straight, and his cheeks and chin were smooth and clean. He had no cuts and scars, he wasn't drooling and foaming at the mouth, and his teeth were straight like a picket fence. But hockey is a grueling sport, and when it's played with fire and heart, this is what happens to your baby boy. And though the scars remain and form a masterpiece of hockey facial art, the one part of Ricci's face that never dims is glowing eyes.
3 Ken Daneyko
This is what it's all about and this is why it's all worth it. Daneyko played his entire career, all 20 years, with the New Jersey Devils. He won 3 Stanley Cups and was nicknamed "Mr. Devil." He was a first round draft pick in 1982 and holds the franchise record for games played as a Devil with 1,283 games. He never scored more than 6 goals in a season, he posted over 20 points twice, and collected 2516 pims. So why was his number 3 retired? He blocked shots, cleared the crease, killed penalties, fought, hit, and scratched and clawed to win. He symbolized how a hockey player can use his guts and courage to make his team a champion.
2 Ben Bishop
Bishop is a 6 foot, 7 inch goalie from Denver, Colorado who started to make a name for himself in Tampa Bay. But it was during a game in Toronto when he was laughing and showing off that goalies, much like their team mates, lose teeth. The Maple Leafs' Peter Holland broke in from the right circle. He let a howitzer go and it stunned and knocked the giant goalie to the ice. As the trainer and his mates gathered round, Brian Boyle dropped to his hands and knees to join the search for the missing teeth. But does he seem to mind? Not at all. He'll keep the false teeth industry going. Say cheese Bish! Hopefully your cage protects you a lot better next time!
1 Bobby Clarke
This is the quintessential hockey image and defines the underdog. From the tiny, mining town called Flin Flon rose the scrappy, heroic hockey legend. Bobby Clarke captained the first expansion team to win the cup in 1973-74 and 1974-75. Even the Philadelphia Flyers, who drafted the tireless center was worried about his size and battle with diabetes. But Clarke's drive and tenacity entrenched him in the city and he became their beloved son. Bobby Orr said he was the toughest, most relentless, and exhausting player he ever faced. Wayne Gretzky idolized how Clarke was the first player to set up behind the net and attack the game backwards. Even the Russian teams who Clarke physically and mentally beat and demoralized throughout the 1970s offered their respect. The great Russian goaltender, Vladislav Tretiak said he never saw anyone raise his game to such levels. And yes, he now has a whole mouth full of false teeth.