Today’s culture is somewhat obsessed with celebrities. Whether they be actors, athletes, entertainers, or world leaders, we can’t seem to get enough of these famous personalities. There is something especially captivating about the “before they were famous” photos, as we love seeing these celebrities as kids or teenagers.
We almost always see these icons in movies or on stage, on the red carpet or on the field. We see them in a professional environment, where their appearance is closely monitored and/or perfected for mass appeal.
Maybe childhood photos offer a relatable look at those with whom we otherwise can’t relate to. We may not all be famous, but we were all once children. We can all relate to playing and joking around at a family gathering, taking summer camp photos, or posing for high school portraits.
There is a refreshing aspect to seeing these candid photos. They offer a humanizing look at those whose lives we envy.
Hockey players are no different. Many NHL skaters are stars in the cities they play in and some have risen to national and international recognition.
Here are 15 great photos of NHL superstars during their high school years:
15 Milan Lucic
Milan Lucic plays with a snarl to his game and a ferociousness that compliments his offensive abilities, making him a premier power forward in today's NHL.
However, you wouldn't know he'd become a hard-nosed player from looking at this photo from his days playing minor hockey in Vancouver's Minor Hockey Association (VHMA) as a 15-year-old.
He left the league in 2003 and began his junior career the following year when he suited up for the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL. He made his NHL debut for the Boston Bruins in 2007 and helped the team capture a Stanley Cup championship in 2011, the team's first in nearly 40 years.
After a brief tenure on the Los Angeles Kings, Lucic signed with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016.
14 David Backes
David Backes, another intimidating power forward, plays a fearless game and never hesitates to dish out a hard hit or drop the gloves for a fight. The former St. Louis Blues' captain (now with the Boston Bruins) has registered three straight 20-goal seasons and scored 14 points in 20 games during the Blues' 2016 playoff run to the Western Conference Finals.
This picture, taken from Backes' high school days, shows that the right winger pretty much has not aged since graduating in 2002. He attended Spring Lake Park High School in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, where he made All-State honors. During his Senior year, he scored a ridiculous 31 goals and 67 points in just 25 games.
The Bruins look forward to adding Backes' edgy game to their lineup and will value his leadership and experience in the locker room.
13 Drew Stafford
Before he was a first round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2004, Wisconsin native Drew Stafford played high-school hockey at Shattuck-Saint Mary’s in Faribault, Minnesota. This photo was taken during his senior year in 2003. His father, Gordie, was also the school’s hockey director during this time.
Stafford then played three seasons at the University of North Dakota, scoring 48 goals and 118 points. He also won a Gold Medal with Team USA at the 2004 World Junior Championships.
Since breaking into the NHL, Stafford has registered four 20-goal seasons, despite an injury-plagued career. He scored 21 goals for the Winnipeg Jets last season and looks to build on those totals playing with stars like Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.
12 Brad Richards
Brad Richards was a premier playmaker in the NHL for 16 seasons and racked up over 900 points in his career. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2004 when he helped the Tampa Bay Lightning capture their first title. He scored 90+ points twice in his career and appeared in the 2011 All-Star game.
This photo shows Richards as a member of the Rimouski Océanic, a junior ice hockey team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). As an 18-year-old, Richards scored an astonishing 39 goals and dished out another 92 assists in just 59 games for the team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Richards with the 64th overall pick that year. Richards was truly a steal at that spot and paid dividends almost immediately upon his arrival. The rookie scored 21 goals and 62 points in his first full season.
11 Chris Pronger
Like Chris Chelios, Chris Pronger excelled in the NHL as a premier offensive defenseman, appearing in six All-Star games, and winning both the Norris and Hart Trophies in 2000. He is also a member of the “Triple Gold Club,” having won a Stanley Cup (2007), an Olympic Gold Medal (2002), and a World Championship (1997).
However, Pronger also played a physical, dirty game, which earned him eight suspensions over his career. You can see in his 1989 Sophomore yearbook photo from Dryden High School in Ontario that he already had his trademark gapped-tooth grin.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t played since the 2011-2012 season due to post-concussion symptoms. He is currently under contract with the Arizona Coyotes and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
10 P.K. Subban
When thinking of the best defenseman in the NHL today, there is no denying that P.K. Subban is in the conversation. Although he was just traded from the Montreal Canadians to the Nashville Predators this past offseason, the 27-year old has racked up a number of accolades including the being named to the All-Rookie team (2011), James Norris Memorial Trophy (2013), two All-Star nods (2013, 2015) and three Gold Medals in International Play.
Before he became a household name to NHL fans, Subban was starring at the junior level.
Spending his time with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League, Subban was noted as a two-way defenseman as he registered 190 total points in his four-year career in the OHL.
9 Scott Gomez
Scott Gomez is shown here as senior at Alaska’s East Anchorage High School in 1997. The eighteen-year-old Gomez has a full head of hair, a far cry from the shaved head he’d sport throughout much of his time in the NHL. The Devils took him 27th overall in 1998.
The recently retired center had a respectable career. His best years were with New Jersey, where he won two Stanley Cups and put up 84 points in 2005-2006 and 60 points the season after.
Gomez’s career sputtered once he signed a long-term contract with the New York Rangers in 2007. After a solid 70-point first season on Broadway, his production dipped, and he was traded to Montreal in 2009.
He then bounced around between the Canadiens, Sharks, Blues, Panthers, and Senators. Gomez retired this past summer at the age of 36.
8 Mike Modano
Mike Modano is arguably the greatest American-born player in NHL history. His 561 goals and 1,374 points are the most for any U.S. native. Modano grew up in Michigan and played peewee hockey before accepting an invitation to join the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. Modano joined the team in 1986 when he was 16 years old.
Modano attended Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert, which is where this 1988 senior portrait was taken. The Minnesota North Stars selected Modano with the first overall pick that year, making him the second American-born player taken at the top of the draft.
He went on to eight All-Star appearances and one Stanley Cup Championship in Dallas in 1999. The Stars retired Modano’s #9 in 2014.
7 Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, Conn Smythe Trophy Winner (2013) and Art Ross Trophy Winner (2016). He also won the Hart Trophy as League MVP after he put up 46 goals and 106 points in 2015-2016. How could a 14-year-old Patrick Kane, pictured here in his high school yearbook, know that he’d go on to such stardom?
As it turns out, Kane was a standout on the ice from a young age. At age 17, he led the United States Under-18 National Development Team in scoring with 102 during the 2005-2006 season. In his first OHL season with the London Knights in 2006-2007, he scored an incredible 62 goals and 145 points in just 58 games.
The Blackhawks selected him first overall in 2007 and he has gone on to produce at a point-per-game clip, registering 669 points in 662 career games. Off-ice issues aside, Kane is one of the best American-born players in the NHL today and one of the league’s elite talents.
6 Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios played an astounding 26 seasons in the NHL, tied with Gordie Howe for most all-time. He holds the record for most games played a defenseman in NHL history and last suited up for the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010 at the age of 48.
This photo was taken during the Hall-of-Fame defenseman’s Junior Year at Mira Mesa High School in San Diego, CA, all the way back in 1978! For a guy who most of us associate with advanced age, especially in a fast-paced game like hockey, Chelios’ youthful look in this photo shows us a different side.
However, growing up in Southern California, Chelios wasn’t recruited by any major U.S. college hockey programs. He eventually broke through with the Moose Jaw Canucks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, potting 23 goals and 87 points in 54 games in 1980-1981. The Montreal Canadiens drafted him at season’s end, making his NHL dream a reality.
5 Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy Winner as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, is no stranger to being the most valuable player on his team.
Stamkos attended Central Park Public School and St. Brother Andre Catholic High School in Markham, Ontario, (where he is pictured here) before being drafted by the OHL’s Sarnia Sting in 2006. He excelled for the Sting over two seasons, scoring 100 goals and 197 points in 124 games.
He carried his goal-scoring prowess into the NHL when the Tampa Bay Lightning selected him with the number one overall pick in 2008. At only 26 years old, Stamkos already has over 300 goals to his name and shows no signs of slowing down as he enters the prime years of his career.
4 Paul Stastny
Paul Stastny currently plays for the Blues, but you may still wonder why he’s wearing a Blues jersey as a youngster in the photo above. As it turns out, the Blues’ alternate captain spent part of his youth in the St. Louis area when his father, Hall-of-Famer Peter Stastny, played for the Blues.
Paul attended Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis before leaving after his sophomore year to play for the Tier III Junior A team St. Louis Jr. Blues in 2001. He spent a brief spell with the team before moving to Omaha, Nebraska to suit up for the River City Lancers of the United States Hockey League.
He made his NHL debut for the Colorado Avalanche in 2006 and finished his rookie season with an impressive 78 points in 82 games. He was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy. He tallied 13 points in 20 playoff games for the Blues in their run to the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
3 Logan Couture
I’ll say one thing about this photo, the Couture brothers certainly know how to strike a pose. Logan (right) is pictured here in a black-and-white portrait with his younger brother, Judson (left).
Couture attended Northridge Public School for grades Seven and Eight and spent his high school years at Lucas Secondary School in London, Ontario.
He played briefly for the London Junior Knights during this time, before being drafted by the Ottawa 67’s in the 2005 OHL draft. He scored 64 points in 65 games as a 17-year-old and was drafted ninth overall by San Jose in 2007.
Couture has put up great numbers in his six full seasons in San Jose. He has scored 328 points in 435 games while carving out a nice spot as a top-six forward. He had a stellar playoff performance in 2016 with 30 points in 24 games as the Sharks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
2 Sidney Crosby
I'll admit I'm not a huge Sidney Crosby fan. I respect the guy's talent but could do without the occasional complaining, diving, and favorable calls from officials.
However, I can't take anything away from the Penguins’ captain. He is the face of the NHL, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, two-time Art Ross Trophy winner, and two-time league MVP. He also won the 2016 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Crosby was one of the most hyped prospects in NHL history going into the 2005 NHL Draft. So, it's no surprise that he sports a grin in his senior yearbook portrait from Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minnesota.
Crosby spent just two years at St. Mary's before attending Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton, New Brunswick, where he graduated in 2005.
1 Wayne Gretzky
Sidney Crosby is the face of the NHL today, but Wayne Gretzky is the face of the NHL of all time. The Great One holds 61 league records, has scored 100+ points in 16 of his 20 seasons and scored 200+ points four times in his career. He has more assists (1,963) than Mark Messier, the NHL's second all-time leading scorer, has points (1,887). That is, quite literally, unbelievable.
Gretzky is miles ahead of any other player in his sport. No one has even dared to compare a player in today's NHL to Gretzky. He is most certainly on another planet.
Yet, before signing with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA) in 1978, Wayne attended St. James Dunne Collegiate and Vocational School in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. The great Gretzky also played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, where he was pictured in this photo.