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Top 15 NHLers You Wouldn't Expect To Be Geniuses

NHL fans expect a lot from our star players, from being 250 lbs and graceful as a ballerina at the same time to being able to win a fistfight on ice skates.

One thing we don’t expect, however, is for our toothless, fearless heroes to be geniuses off the ice as well as savants on it. But that doesn’t mean the NHL’s ranks don’t have their fair share of big brains—in fact, plenty of players, from goalies to goons, have made their marks on the academic world as well as on the bruised bodies and spirits of their opponents.

In a professional sports world where the old and injured are discarded like misfit toys, having a second skill could be the difference between becoming a millionaire success post-sports and becoming a cautionary tale. This doesn’t always mean having an academic background (Lebron James never went to college and is now among the savviest businessmen in sports; his lifetime contract with Nike will keep generations of Jameses in private school) but there’s no denying that a degree offers a safety net that many pro athletes don’t realize they might need until it’s too late. The premium placed on college hockey in the NHL—and the fact that many Ivy League schools still boast top-tier teams—means that some of the athletes who are most likely to break each other’s bones are also some of the most likely to engage each other on combinatorial mathematics or Kierkegaard.

The NHL is often thought of as a league of speed and brawn, and those attributes are common among all of its great players. These 15 standouts, however, combined their athletic prowess with genius levels of intelligence that are rare in anyone, let alone someone who also happens to be a physical genetic lottery winner and compulsive worker.

14 T14. Alex Biega 

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

13 Brett Lebda 

via hfboards.hockeysfuture.com

12 Matt Moulson 

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

11 Dominic Moore 

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

10 Darroll Powe 

via stateofhockeynews.com

9 Kevin Westgarth 

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

8 Shawn Horcoff 

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

7 Ben Scrivens 

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

6 Colin Greening 

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

5 Joel Ward 

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

4 Lee Stempniak 

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

3 Ben Lovejoy 

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2 Mathieu Darche 

via fr.canoe.ca

1 Alex Killorn 

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When he scored the first goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, Alex Killorn became the first graduate of Harvard to score in the final quest for Lord Stanley’s silverware. With a degree in government and political science from the Ivy League school’s notoriously grueling civics program, Killorn can count himself among both the deadliest centermen in the league with a wrister and the most likely to explain the electoral college to you—and he’s not even from the United States. Killorn is second only to Dominic Moore on the list of Harvard’s NHL playoff goal scorers with 10 to Moore’s 11.

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Top 15 NHLers You Wouldn't Expect To Be Geniuses