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Top 15 Former NHLers Who Retired and Found Regular Jobs

Historically, the NHL, and hockey in general, is rooted in a “blue collar” narrative. Back in the day even the most well known NHLers would have off-season jobs, contributing to the narrative that hockey was a game, yet one still had to work to feed his family. If we fast-forward the story of professional hockey to the present, things have undoubtedly changed, at least on the surface of things. However, the reality of an NHL career, if one does make it to “the show,” is not one of longevity, but rather represents a very brief period – as the average NHL career is 5.65 seasons or 248.02 games.

And to this day, despite a strong players’ union, the huge contracts and the accompanying glamour, the endorsements and a league that now boasts 30 teams (which empirically ought to translate into more fulfilled dreams and more opportunity), the “blue collar” narrative has changed very little. Tim Horton’s, frozen ponds, moms and dads warming up the car at the crack of dawn, the friendly wave from the Zamboni driver, and eventually a Stanley Cup – hockey is woven into the fabric of hockey towns across the world.

In sum, with such a relatively short career, even assuming that most players have made responsible financial choices along the way, what do these guys do when the show is over? In most cases, if at all possible, ex NHLers tend to stay with the game in some fashion: broadcasting, commentating, coaching, scouting, consulting, and public relations type work at both the professional and amateur level. In other cases though, many ex NHLers’ lives take a different direction and life becomes, in a word, “regular,” which is a relative term in this context. In both situations the short of it is this; the transition from the NHL to normalcy is not an easy one, yet it is a reality that many former pro hockey players struggle with. Are retired NHLers flocking to the factories like the days of old? Not exactly, but some go on to do some interesting jobs once they leave the game. Here are 15 retired NHL players who settled into regular jobs after the final whistle.

15 Marcel Dionne

via marceldionne.com

14 John Tonelli

via bleacherreport.com

13 Al Secord

via briansumers.com

12 Randy Gregg

via hfboards.hockeysfuture.com

11 Brian Bellows

via legendsofhockey.net

10 Denis Savard

via savard18.com

9 Ken Dryden

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

8 Gary Roberts

via hfboards.hockeysfuture.com

7 Donald Brashear

via infodimanche.com

6 Ken Linseman

via hockeycanada.ca

5 Guy Lafleur

via journaldemontreal.com

4 Wilf Paiement

via mapleleafslegends.blogspot.com

3 Brent Gretzky

via mix97.com

2 Patrick Cote

via thehockeynews.com

1 Sean Avery

via blog.aglamslam.com

Always the center of attention and mired in controversy, Sean Avery makes Ken Linseman look like a Lady Byng candidate. And when looking at his stats alone, you have to wonder how he managed to stay in the NHL for 12 seasons; he wasn’t an enforcer and couldn’t muster 40 points in a single season – he also negotiated a few good contracts along the way. Avery though seemed to always have an exit strategy and continuously dabbled in other interests while playing professional hockey. His “jobs” off the ice have included: restaurant owner, fashion model, and a Don Draper ad man. Avery has also campaigned for same-sex marriage and ending homophobia in sports. Like him or hate him, Sean Avery’s article “Transition Season” in The Players Tribune is a worthwhile read.

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Top 15 Former NHLers Who Retired and Found Regular Jobs