Hockey is the only sport where it’s players do not dress up in their press conferences. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook often try to one-up each other with absurd outfits before and after their NBA games. Tom Brady walks to the podium in the latest sweater Gisele Bundchen picked out for him. In the NHL, the players answer questions in their sweat drenched, awful smelling uniforms. For the most part, the players simply do not care how they look. Sure, they might dress up for the All-Star game festivities, but more often than not it seems like they could care less.
The most noticeable example of hockey players simply not caring is the lack of attention they pay to their teeth. One has to believe that each NHL organization provides dental care to their players, as well as the finest health insurance in the land. However, hockey has a longstanding tradition and culture of it’s players sporting smiles only cartoon characters can relate to. Instead of replacing missing teeth that were knocked out by taking a puck to the face, hockey players wear it as a badge of honor. They embrace the difficulties that lie ahead of them, like chewing food easily or trying to convince strangers that aren’t psychopaths when they smile at them. Missing a tooth or twelve is supposed to represent going through the battles in the corner of the ice or trading punches with an enemy on the ice. Yet, if everyone is being honest, it just makes the person look like that creepy family member you are glad you only see during the holiday season.The flawed smile is a tradition that is as old as hockey itself. Here is to hoping the tradition continues and here are the 15 nastiest (or best, depending on how you view things) smiles of all time.
16 Dustin Brown
The two-time Stanley Cup champion sports one of the most memorable smiles in the league. Whenever he hoists the Stanley Cup for the LA Kings, which has been often recently, you can literally count the chiclets he has left in his mouth. The bruising right winger plays a physical game, which has no doubt to his many dental issues. He lost most of his teeth when he was still in the AHL after a missed hit saw him land face first into the boards. He came back in the same game and scored the OT winner. That's what makes him a great leader.
15 Gordie Howe
The man. The myth. The legend. The only thing as legendary as his playing career was his smile. His career lasted decades and his toothless smile is timeless. Howe is widely respected by both his peers and fans across the world. Recently, Howe has had health struggles that most thought would finally bring the legend down. However, just like his playing career, Howe continues to defy the odds. Here is to many more years for “Mr. Hockey.”
14 Alex Burrows
Wasn't a stick, wasn't a puck. It was a granola bar. Still, all smiles for Burr. pic.twitter.com/FHZpr3shXj
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 27, 2014
As only Burrows can, he chipped his tooth on a granola bar. That is right, a granola bar. Apparently Burrows should stick to biting fingers and stay clear of those pesky snacks. When Burrows bit down on Patrice Bergeron’s finger in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, it was a natural to assume someone would eventually seek revenge on Burrows. As it turns out, nobody has to now. Thanks granola bar, you rock.
13 Jaromir Jagr
Jagr is not only the oldest man in the NHL, he is also the smoothest. In a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2007, Jagr took a shot to the face and lost three teeth. Women across the world wept, but their longhaired hero simply brushed it off and scored the game-winning goal later in the game. In most other sports, Jagr would have exited the game. He didn’t miss a beat and is still scoring goals and phone numbers to this day.
12 Matthew Barnaby
Barnaby had a way of getting the opposing team to want to knock his teeth out. He played on the edge and was constantly getting under people’s skin. He bounced around from team to team during his career and ultimately wound up playing for seven NHL organizations. While some poor personal decisions cut his broadcasting career short, there is no denying his smile was one for the ages.
11 Bobby Clarke
Clarke’s 15-year career with the Philadelphia Flyers was remarkable. His consistency and durability is something that a professional hockey organization dreams of. From 1969-1984, Clarke became regarded as one of the greatest two-way forwards of all time. Clarke had three 100-point seasons and won the Selke Trophy in 1983 for being the best defensive forward in the league, along with three Hart Trophies. Nowadays, Clarke sports a new set of teeth and remains in the front office with the Flyers organization.
10 Craig Berube
While he now has his teeth fixed and is the current head coach for the Flyers, it is not unfair to remember him for his ridiculous smile. While his NHL career as a player was up and down, he has been in the Flyers’ organization since 2004 as a coach. Last year, he replaced for Peter Laviolette as the head coach for the organization just four games into the season and guided the Flyers to a playoff birth.
9 Chris Neil
Neil was drafted in the sixth round in the 1998 draft by the Ottawa Senators. He carved out a role for himself on the team and has never let it go. Like a few other players on this list, Neil has played with just one team his entire career. His time on ice is understandably winding down now as he enters the latter part of his career, but he will always be remembered for his consistency and tough style of hockey. Oh, and also for not having front teeth.
8 Dan Carcillo
Coming off of his latest of many suspension, Carcillo remains one of the most hated and controversial players in the league. However, with a smile like that, can one really stay mad at him? The answer is unequivocally yes. Carcillo is a frustrating player because he is quite talented but old habits continue to get in his way. It truly is amazing that his career is still continuing in the NHL. While nobody hopes the NHL outlaws toothless smiles in the game, Carcillo’s reckless play-style is one that most would be happy to see go.
7 Duncan Keith
After completing a four game sweep of the San Jose’ Sharks in the 2010 Western Conference Finals, Blackhawks defensemen remarked on losing seven teeth during the game. Essentially he stated that he didn’t like his old teeth and was looking forward to getting new ones. Oh well, the toothless smile was fun while it lasted. Keith is now one of the leagues premier defenseman and his game certainly doesn’t lack bite.
6 Ken Daneyko
When Daneyko wasn’t sitting in the penalty box, he was trying to lose as much teeth as possible in his playing career. Daneyko is the definition of a gritty hockey player and his smile shows it. Over the course of his career, he spent over 2,500 minutes in the penalty box. He also won three Stanley Cup championships with the New Jersey Devils. Nothing represents toughness and the willingness to battle than a smile without teeth.
5 Matt Cooke
Much like Dan Carcillo, Matt Cooke has not earned a very good reputation for himself. The instance everyone remembers is his brutal hit on Bruins forward Marc Savard. This hit eventually led to the end of Savard’s career and to this very day he is still suffering from concussion symptoms and effects. To Cooke’s credit, he has made strides in changing his game but once in awhile he reverts back to his old habits that have given him such a negative reputation throughout the league. It appears that a tooth isn’t the only thing missing from Cooke’s game.
4 Bobby Hull
Bobby Hull played hockey for 23 years and did a lot more than have some teeth knocked out. He is a Stanley Cup champion and even has a rule named after him that limits the amount the blade of a hockey stick can be curved. However, his wacky toothless smile is one of his crowning achievements. In fact, his false teeth were even sold for $575 in 2004, according to CBC. That either speaks to just how epic his hockey smile was or that someone is really invested in their false teeth collection.
3 Mike Ricci
Ricci was drafted fourth overall in 1990 by the Flyers. He was drafted based on his offensive skill, but in the NHL he turned into a skilled defensive player. While many feel he never lived up the fourth overall pick in the draft billing, Ricci did have a successful career in the NHL. He played for several organizations and became a very valuable role player to those teams. Ricci sported a toothless smile like no one else could. It gave him a look that resembled a hillbilly mixed with a villain for a horror movie. While his career didn’t pan out the way many experts predicted it would, it was still successful and Ricci did it with a smile. A beautiful, albeit horrifying smile.
2 Bryan Bickell
Bickell lost his two front teeth in junior hockey and the false teeth he replaced those with kept falling out as well. Bickell is a tough player and will stand up for a teammate if an opposing player crosses the line. That explains why he refuses to wear a full cage over his mouth to protect his remaining teeth. In order to fight in the NHL, the person you are fighting must have the ability to punch you in the face. One must keep in mind that a hockey player’s logic doesn’t make sense to the rest of us because for the most part we value our teeth and actively try to not get punched in the face.
1 Alexander Ovechkin
Of course Ovechkin has to be number one. He is one of the leagues biggest stars and also one of the most inexplicable players the NHL has ever seen. In the 2013-2014 season, Ovechkin scored 51 goals. With the goalie pads being so massive these days that is an incredible achievement. On the other hand, Ovechkin had a +/- of -35, which sounds impossible. How does one score so many goals and be a minus player? It could have either been the defensive system the Capitals were playing or just an astounding display of ineptitude on that side of the ice by Ovechkin. Either way, he is a plus player this year and proudly wears the best hockey smile of all time.