The NHL is a very demanding sport, so it brings no surprises that the players involved in the sport are in better shape than most athletes.
The debate of which sport is more physical, hockey or football will never end. It is a debate that could go either way, however, no matter what side you are on, you could agree that they both are physical.
Yet, in hockey you are skating on ice with a six inch steel blade reaching up to 20 miles an hour. While reaching these speeds you never know when you will run into another player looking to hit you.
A normal hockey shift is anywhere between 25 to 45 seconds. So when star players play up to 20 minutes a night you know they have to be in great shape.
For hockey players, their biggest concern is explosive training. Cardio is huge for any athlete, especially if you want to be the one near the end of the game who still has that extra step. However, they also train their core if they want power behind their slap shot. A professional hockey player will use his core to generate torque and create power behind the shot.
I remember when a former coach of mine used to end every practice with the suicide drill, this way for the last few minutes of the game the team was still skating.
So no surprise to us that after retirement these NHL players are still in excellent shape.
15 Doug Weight
The American-born hockey player started his career with the New York Rangers in 1991 and ended with the New York Islanders in 2011, where he retired due to a lingering back injury. Weight won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 during his 19-year career.
At the age of 45, Weight is now the assistant coach and assistant general manager for the New York Islanders.
14 Gary Roberts
The Canadian-born hockey player enjoyed a 21 season career in the NHL. Gary Roberts was a first round selection of the Calgary Flames, 12th overall, in 1984. He retired with the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2009.
He was known for his fitness during his career and even after his career, but, it did not start well. He thought his summer lacrosse schedule would keep him in proper shape heading towards his first NHL training camp. Yet, coach Bob Johnson disagreed and labeled him as someone not committed to being a hockey player.
13 Trevor Linden
Another Canadian-born player who spent 19 seasons in the NHL, playing two positions center and right wing for four different teams. He also was a member of the 1988 Canadian Olympic team and played in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Drafted second overall in the 1988 NHL draft and becoming a captain of the Vancouver Canucks at the age of 21.
After retiring in 2008, he was named President of Hockey Operations for the Canucks, and was the guy in charge of firing John Tortorella.
12 Bill Guerin
This American-born player spent 18 seasons in the NHL winning two Stanley Cup championships, one with the New Jersey Devils and the other with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Drafted 5th overall by the Devils in 1989, Guerin played for eight different teams. He is also part of the 1,000 games played in the NHL club. Guerin started his NHL career in 1991 and retired in 2010. He was the first player of Hispanic descent to play in the NHL.
11 Joe Sakic
The Canadian-born Hockey player got inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012. During his 21-year career he was involved with the NHL All-Star Game 13 times, winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.
Since retired, Sakic has become involved in the front office of the Colorado Avalanche, while being involved in golfing, appearing in celebrity golf tournaments.
For players, the older they get the more they put on weight. For Sakic, that is not the case. The 45-year-old is still in great shape. The All-Star forward comes in at 195 pounds of muscle.
10 Dominik Hašek
The Czech-born NHL goaltender has 16 seasons in the NHL under his belt. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, winning in 2002 and 2008 with the Red Wings. These accomplishments are amazing, considering he was drafted 199th overall in 1983.
For many goaltenders it is important to be in shape, and since retiring in 2011 it hasn’t changed. Hašek is known for two features on the ice rink. The first his mask that is a players mask with a cage on it; and two, his flexibility.
9 Brendan Shanahan
The 47-year-old retired Canadian-American hockey player is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion all with the Detroit Red Wings. The 21-year career Shanahan had players only dream of. The career was capped of by being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
Since his retirement in 2009 Shanahan has stayed involved with the NHL. First becoming the NHL’s Vice President of hockey and business, and then he was became the Chief Player Disciplinarian. He is now President and alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
8 Nicklas Lidström
The Swedish-born defenceman played 20 seasons in the NHL all for the Detroit Red Wings, which he captained for the final six seasons of his career.
During his 20 year run, Lidström won four Stanley Cups, seven James Memorial Trophies, a Conn Smythe Trophy and was voted into 12 NHL All-Star Games. He Also became the first European-born and – trained NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup.
Those stats were the exact reason he was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
7 Pavel Bure
The Russian Rocket was the nickname given for the speed he had. The Russian-born right winger player 12 seasons in the NHL with Vancouver Canucks, the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers.
Kryptonite to the Russian Rockets career was his knees, Bure struggled with his knees, resulting in his retiring as a member of the Rangers in 2005, even though he didn’t play since 2003.
Bure was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012. During his time in the NHL he averaged better than a point per game (779 points, 437 goals, in 702 NHL games), and don’t forget he is fourth all-time with goals per game.
6 Adam Graves
Graves is best known for his tenure with the New York Rangers where he won one of his two Stanley Cup championships. When retiring in 2003 he collected 329 goals and 287 assist.
Graves is a New York Rangers special assistant with Prospect Development and Community Relations.
His physical on ice play is the opposite of how he is off the ice. Involved with the Garden of Dreams, Graves is probably one the hockey players that gives back the most to the community he is involved with. In 2006 Graves ran in the NYC Marathon, where according to Active Results he finished with a time of 4:27:32
5 Mario Lemieux
This Canadian-born hockey player is known by all fans no matter the age group. Lemieux played in 17 NHL seasons all with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is a three time Stanley Cup Championship, two as a player and one as an owner, the only man to win as a player and an owner.
Lemieux is referred to as “The Magnificent One’ and if it wasn’t for health problems he would be close to records held by Wayne Gretzky. Affected with spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of the hip-flex and much more.
After his first retirement he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997, yet, he came back and played from 2000-2006.
4 Steve Yzerman
The retired Canadian-born hockey player is the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but before he got there he had an excellent NHL career.
At the age of 21 he became the captain of the Detroit Red Wings, where he spent his whole career, and when retired in 2006 he retired as the longest-serving captain of any team in North America.
Yzerman has won four Stanley Cups, three as a player and one as an executive, along with a long list of awards and achievements. He came close to joining Lemieux to winning the cup as an owner, however, the Lighting lost to the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.
3 Wayne Gretzky
The Great One is loved by fans around the globe. Gretzky played 20 seasons in the NHL with four teams and set just about every record there was to set. Not only was he skilled, he had speed no one ever saw.
His playing career started in 1978 and went to 1999 where he retired as a New York Ranger. Shortly after the NHL retired his number throughout the league.
Wayne was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, becoming just the tenth player to bypass the three-year waiting period. Gretzky is the only NHL player to record over 200 points in one season, something he accomplished FOUR times. Wayne also has four Stanley Cup championships under his belt.
2 Mark Messier
This Canadian-born hockey player spent a quarter century in the NHL, while doing so winning six Stanley Cups. His most famous championship was in 1994 when he won it as a member of the New York Rangers, ending a 54-year drought.
He retired in 2004 as a member of the Rangers for a second time and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 2011, at the age of 50, Messier took part in the NYC Marathon. According to Nymag.com he finished with a time of 4:14:21.
The 55-year-old is still in great shape for his age as he stands in at 210 pounds.
1 Chris Chelios
You can't talk NHL regarding fitness and not mention Chris Chelios, who played the game until well into his 40s. Chelios won three Stanley Cups in his 27-year career, as well as three Norris trophies. Chelios adhered to a very demanding fitness program, which included him riding a stationary bike in a sauna.
Chelios now works as an Adviser to Hockey Operations for the Red Wings, and was inducted into the HOF in 2013.
Chelios is now an assistant coach in Detroit and looks like he could jump on the ice and play.
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