Hockey is one of the most physically grueling sports. There’s a reason it’s called the fastest game on earth, because players are constantly moving at high speeds, slamming into one another and slapping a puck over 100 mph. For this reason, the NHL sports some of the most physically fit athletes in the world. Some would even say that hockey players are overall the best athletes in all of sports, because in order to make it in the NHL you need to have strength, agility, flexibility, and endurance.
According to SB Nation, the average NHL player is somewhere around 6’1” tall and weighs a little over 200 pounds, which is pretty much the epitome of physical fitness. Guys like Gary Roberts, Martin St. Louis, Jaromir Jagr, and Zdeno Chara are famous for their fitness regimens, dedicating copious amounts of time to the gym.
But there are always exceptions to the norm. Even in such a physically demanding sport like hockey there are outliers who are not up to the physical standard. In any sport, there’s always going to be that athlete who’s just a natural talent, the one who looks as though he spends hours on the couch in front of the TV with a bag of chips instead of hours in the gym. The NHL doesn’t have nearly as many fat players as other sports (some baseball and football players don’t look like athletes at all), but that doesn’t mean the league is without its fatties.
Here’s the list of the top 15 fattest NHL players. You might find that the term “fat” has been used a little loosely here. Compared to the average Joe, these 15 men might be considered pretty fit, but compared to other elite athletes, they look flabby and out of shape.
15 Mark Recchi
Mark Recchi had a long and successful career in the NHL, playing for a total of seven teams between 1988 and 2011. Recchi was never exactly fat, but near the end of his career he definitely let himself go a little bit, and understandably so, since he was in his 40s. Even though he may not have been at the same physical level as some of the guys half his age, he still managed to be a solid player even in his final season, when he had 48 points, good enough for fifth in scoring on a Boston Bruins team that would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
14 Guillaume Latendresse
Guillaume Latendresse is best known for his brief tenure with the Montreal Canadiens from 2006 to 2010. For the first three out of his four years with the Habs, Latendresse was a key contributor, consistently tallying points in the high twenties. There was plenty of speculation that Latendresse struggled with his weight throughout his career and it may have contributed to his sudden downfall. He was traded by the Canadiens in the 2009-2010 season after scoring only 2 goals in 23 games, and even though he would go on to have his best season with Minnesota, things would never be the same for him. His last NHL season was 2012-2013.
13 Keith Tkachuk
With more than 1,000 career points, Keith Tkachuck is easily one of the greatest American hockey players of all time. His best season came near the beginning of his career, when he was a member of the Winnipeg Jets and racked up 98 points with 50 goals. Despite all of his victories on the ice, he couldn’t beat Father Time, as near the end of his career the signs of aging, including weight gain, really became evident. Tkachuk’s weight problem got so out of hand that he was briefly suspended by the St. Louis Blues in 2005 after reporting to training camp in such bad shape that he couldn’t pass the physical.
12 Tim Thomas
Goalies sweat so much from moving around in their heavy equipment that they have been known to lose several pounds in a single game (NHL goaltender Dan Ellis once reported to have lost 13 pounds). So while they may not be the strongest guys on the ice, goalies usually have great conditioning, which makes Tim Thomas a bit of an anomaly. He looks like the slightly thinner younger brother of Drew Carey (all that’s missing are the horn rim glasses). If Thomas was losing double-digit pounds per game like other goalies, then he must have had a pretty ridiculous bad plan.
11 Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel might be the first guy that comes to everyone’s mind when they think about fat or out of shape players currently playing in the NHL. It’s not just that he’s fat, it’s that he’s also sloppy looking, with messy hair and a scruffy beard. A story came out this summer alleging that Kessel left his apartment each day around 2:30pm to travel to Front and John Sts. in Toronto to get a hot dog (Check out the GIF of Kessel “exercising” with his teammates; it just might be the greatest thing you ever see.).
10 Alexei Emelin
After the Montreal Gazette’s Hockey Inside/Out posted a picture of a shirtless Alexei Emelin, hockey fans criticized the Russian defenceman for his bulging belly and apparent lack of muscle. Emelin’s known for his physical game, so maybe he uses all that extra weight to his advantage. He’s not the first Russian born hockey player to be accused of being out of shape either. Alexander Ovechkin has been criticized on more than one occasion for his sloppy appearance (although it hasn’t seemed to hurt his game in the slightest).
9 Kyle Wellwood
Kyle Wellwood is the definition of “skinny fat.” He’s certainly not obese, but he looks as though he’s never lifted a weight in his life. His neck beard and comb over also make him look more like an accountant than a hockey player. Some unflattering photos of Wellwood sitting by the pool with a leg cast and a sizeable midsection didn’t exactly augur well for his career’s future. His last season came in 2012-2013 with the Winnipeg Jets.
8 Vladimir Krutov
Who’s Vladimir Krutov? He’s a Russian forward who played one season in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, and it was a pretty decent season too, with 34 points in 61 games. But he left the NHL to return home, as he struggled with homesickness and a weight problem. He was listed as 181 pounds, but his round face and double chin suggest that he may have been a little heavier than that. His size gained him the nicknames “The Tank” and, a little less generous, Vladimir Kruton.
7 Randy Carlyle
When you look at Randy Carlyle, former head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s hard to believe that he was ever a player. But he was, and a pretty good one at that, having won the James Norris Trophy for the 1980-1981 season. Even during his playing days, especially near the end, Carlyle looked like he was more suited for a role behind the bench than in front of it.
6 Bruce Boudreau
Like Carlyle, Bruce Boudreau, current head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, is hard to imagine as a player. He’s got a big round face and a short, stocky build (he kind of looks like the hockey version of Don Zimmer). Even when he was in the prime of his career, he appeared to be carrying around some extra weight. While Boudreau did play several seasons in the big leagues, he’s best known as a perennial AHL player. In fact, he’s one of the best never-quite-made-it players of all time, with 799 AHL points, good enough for 12th best in the history of the league.
5 Walter “Turk” Broda
Now we’re getting into the old timers. Back in the old days, athletes weren’t nearly as fit as they are today. They would smoke, drink, and eat junk food, sometimes during games, and for that reason, they often looked like the average out of shape person. One such example is Walter “Turk” Broda, goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1936 to 1952 (the nickname Turk is short for Turkey Egg, which was a reference not to his love of turkey eggs but to his many freckles). Broda was so overweight that his coach, Conn Smythe, threatened to bench him if he didn’t lose weight. Broda eventually managed to slim down enough to keep his position.
4 Lorne “Gump” Worsley
Lorne “Gump” Worsley, another goaltender, gives Turk Broda a run for his money when it comes to old time athletes who don’t look like athletes. Say what you want about Gump and his beer belly, but the man had a long and successful career, spanning from 1952 to 1974. His time in the NHL, however, was plagued with injuries and one has to suspect that they were, at least in part, a product of his poor physical shape. Legend has it that when a coach called him out for his beer belly, Worsley responded, “I’m strictly a rye man.”
3 Dustin Penner
With his scruffy beard and his doughy body, Dustin Penner looks more like a beer league player than a top NHL player, but that's exactly what he was (at least for a short period of time). Weighing in at roughly 250 pounds, Penner was often teased throughout his playing career for his weight. And he didn't help himself when he claimed that he had thrown out his back while leaning in to eat a stack of pancakes.
2 Andrei Medvedev
Andrei Medvedev never actually played in the NHL, but he was drafted in the second round by the Calgary Flames. He helped Russia bring home the gold at the World Juniors in 2001, but he was unable to have any success at the pro level because of his weight problems. His weight was listed as high as 260 pounds and several scouting reports claimed that he didn’t practice or have any work ethic. Back when he was still a prospect, Hockey’s Future described him as being as “inconsistent as his weight.”
1 Dustin Byfuglien
At 260 pounds, Dustin Byfuglien is one of the biggest players in the NHL. He looks more like an NFL lineman than an NHL forward. But regardless of his size (or maybe because of it) he's a pretty good player. He's an intimidating force on skates and it takes a lot to knock him off the puck. His best seasons have come with the Winnipeg Jets, but he also helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010, tallying 11 goals in the playoffs, 3 of which came in the finals.
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