While most of them do make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, it is still in one way tough to be a hockey player. Just over a week ago, Steve Montador died. The former defenseman and veteran of six NHL teams passed on in his Mississauga, Ontario home. It is a trend that has hit the NFL hard, and has been causing some distress in the hockey community over the last few years.
Recent concern over head injuries and the devastation that is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is nothing to be taken lightly, and Montador seems to be (probably, pending an autopsy) the newest victim of the brain ailment that has changed and ultimately ended so many other athletes. Obviously waiting for an autopsy is essential, but according to friends and family, Montador had changed and was simply not the same guy he had been prior to his experiences in professional hockey, especially regarding hits to the head and concussions, plenty of both of which he sustained.
While it is a time of mourning in the NHL world, we here at TheSportster don't want to be a bunch of downers, and I already wrote a heavy-hearted article detailing the tragedy of CTE and some of the great athletes who have suffered and died from it and its related conditions, which you can see here. That is why it should be remembered that while some athletes do experience a terrible lot in life after their playing careers, plenty do go on to do great things inside and outside of hockey after they "hang up the skates."
Here are twenty interesting stories of hockey players and what they have done with their post retirement time. We have tried to detail some of the NHL's most legendary and have also mixed recent retirees (those from the 90s) with some older gents in hopes of offering variety. If your favorite isn't in this list, shout out in the comments section and maybe, if you're polite, we'll do another one.
20 Claude Lemieux
After a twenty-one year career spread through the Habs, Devils, Avalanche, Coyotes and the Stars, Lemieux retired in 2003. The retirement would not last forever, as he would play over forty professional league games in the 2008-2009 season with the San Jose Sharks and their minor league affiliate. Outside of his brief foray back into hockey, the four time Stanley Cup winner has served as President for Graf Canada, the makers of some of the finest skates the game has ever seen, and 4Sports Entertainment, a company that represents and manages athletes.
19 Guy Lafleur
Another star from the Montreal Canadiens' past, Guy Lafleur was a Hab from 1971 until 1985. His six straight seasons between 74-75 and 79-80 with 50 goals and 100 point totals was a first in the league and still stands as an impressive feat to this day. After hockey he started a helicopter rental business and briefly (but somewhat unsuccessfully) tried his hand at the restaurant business.
Outside of entrepreneurial undertakings, Lafleur was also named an honorary colonel of an air force unit in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
18 Jari Kurri
One of the greatest Finns to ever play is our number eighteen. Kurri's career was undeniably impressive and punctuated with five Stanley Cup victories. Kurri married a former Miss Finland. Let's break that down quickly; in a country that neighbors Sweden and Norway, which is known to have similarly gorgeous women, he managed to bag one of the most beautiful. She was Miss Finland in 1999, but spoiler alert, she's still stunning. Outside of his personal life, Kurri is the general manager of Jokerit in the KHL.
17 Dale Hawerchuk
The long time Winnipeg Jet, Dale Hawerchuk, retired from pro hockey back in 1997, after a 17 year career that saw nearly 900 assists and just over 1,400 points. He coached the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League for a few years and was the owner and president of the Orangeville Crushers (Ontario Junior A) for a few years as well. More recently he has established himself as a charitable figure in the Winnipeg area, hosting the annual Dale Hawerchuk Charity Classic golf tournament.
16 Frank Mahovlich
Six time Stanley Cup winner Frank Mahovlich, who won cups with the Leafs (remember when they weren't God-awful?) and the Habs between 1962 and 1973, is our number 16. After his hockey career, he was appointed to the Canadian Senate. For those who aren't familiar with the Canadian "system," the Canadian senate is an unelected body originally intended as a "sober second thought" for elected officials, who today waste money and stall progress. He retired from the Senate in 2013.
15 Darryl Sittler
Sittler never won any Stanley Cups but he does still hold the NHL record for most points scored in a game, with a double hat trick and four assists in 1976 against the Bruins. He retired back in 1985 but maintained a life in the public eye. For years he played a key position in the Leafs' front office, and more recently has become a public speaker, representing many different groups from companies to charities.
14 Mike Bossy
Bossy was one of the most celebrated New York Islanders during their glory days back in the 1980s, being a member of four Stanley Cup winning teams. Bossy could do it all and combined great team play and brilliant hockey sense to become one of the best players of his generation.
Since his retirement in 1988, he worked as a broadcaster covering various teams and has also worked in the front office for the Islanders.
13 Theoren Fleury
Every article like this requires at least some tragedy, so that you all don't think life is a pile of sunshine and rainbows. Theo Fleury, the 5'6 "tough-as-nails-and-all-heart" Calgary Flames frward (who also played briefly for the Avalanche, Rangers, and Blackhawks), has a story as interesting as it is troubling. While many already knew, rumors of his substance use became widely recognized after his retirement. He wrote an autobiography "Playing With Fire" that detailed his substance dependence along with his sexual abuse at the hands of a former coach. He now works primarily as a representative speaker for causes to do with sexual abuse, due to his experiences with Graham James, his coach during his career in junior hockey.
12 Bobby Clarke
The career Philadelphia Flyer and two time Cup winner has spent his NHL retirement years working int he NHL, as an executive member of several clubs. His first GM job was with the Flyers, and they were successful under his leadership. Moving on after six seasons, he led successful campaigns with the Minnesota North Stars and Florida Panthers, achieving undeniable success and many playoff years but never a Stanley Cup. He's now back with the Flyers as their senior vice-president.
11 Denis Potvin
Another Islander who aided the club in their domination during the 1980s, Potvin was a defenseman and served as a team captain around the same time as our number fourteen, Mike Bossy. Three Norris Trophies and being the highest point scoring defenseman in history (at the time of his retirement) are just a couple of the impressive notes on his resume. Since his retirement, much of his time has been spent broadcasting, working for the Florida Panthers and the Ottawa Senators. Insert "stereotype" joke here about French Canadians retiring to Florida.
10 Dale Hunter
Despite being the second most penalized player in NHL history, nobody could deny that when Dale Hunter wanted to, he was also a solid goal scorer and a great team presence. The tough guy became a coach after his retirement in 1999, first coaching the London Knights in the OHL, but also coaching the Washington Capitals briefly, before returning to London. His passion and at times, fury, on the rink can be seen throughout his coaching experience, having been suspended a couple of times for fight related offenses (the OHL is run by thumb-suckers who penalize coaches for player's actions) and treatment of officials.
9 Donald Brashear
While maybe not an all-star in terms of skill and points, Brashear was one of the best enforcers to ever play the game. Too bad Marty McSorley never played in the NHL again, because it would have been nice to see Brashear rip him in two in a real fight after the head-slash incident. He last played in the NHL back in 2010, and while he played up until 2013 in Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey (in Quebec), an NHL return is unlikely. Brashear has experience in MMA, and boxing, holding professional records of 1-0 and 2-1 in each respectively.
8 Ted Lindsey
One of the most decorated Detroit Red Wings of all time, Ted Lindsay was not only a star in his day, but was also central in the foundation of the NHL Players Association. He won four Stanley Cups between 1950 and 1955 and coached very briefly in 1979 and 1980. He also served as a color-commentator for the Red Wings. He is known for his charitable work in the Detroit area and has also been a major contributor and fundraiser for autism research.
7 Brett Hull
Depending on your nationality, you may dislike the Canadian-born Brett Hull, who went to play for the US. If you're past that whole "nationalism" thing, you probably remember him as one of the best snipers of his era. After retirement, Hull worked in broadcasting for a few years before managing a junior hockey team and trying his entrepreneurial know-how in the restaurant business. He is a regular participant in celebrity golf tournaments to this day, but sadly, the restaurant he co-owned with Mike Modano, Hully and Mo's Restaurant and Tap Room, closed a few years ago.
6 Bobby Orr
The greatest defenseman of all time, Bobby Orr, notoriously went bankrupt just a short while after his retirement but has bounced back in impressive fashion. He was instrumental in the process of the NHL instituting a new pension protocol and was also a major part of the Alan Eagleson scandal. More recently, Orr has been working as an agent and is known to support multiple charitable initiatives to this day.
5 Steve Yzerman
Quite possibly one of the toughest and most dedicated men to ever play the game (and that's saying something), the Red Wings' long serving captain is our number five, having dedicated much of his post NHL time to hockey. He was a vice-president for the Red Wings for a few years before working as GM for the Tampa Bay Lightening. He has also be a key figure for Hockey Canada, playing a major part in each of Canada's last two gold medal Olympic campaigns.
4 Mike Modano
The United States' all time American point and goal leader is a former restaurant owner, along with Brett Hull, but gave that career up in favor of running a charitable organization; the Mike Modano Foundation. The foundation contributes to causes varying from child abuse to soldiers issues. He is married to a golfer, Allison Micheletti. Look her up, he has done well for himself.
3 Gerry Cheevers
The goalie known for his stitch decorated mask won two Stanley Cups in the early 1970s. For a few years after his retirement in 1980, he was involved with horse racing but left that life in the late 2000s. Recently, the former Bruins' goaltender, who was known for being a fan of beer, was honored by the Lake of Bays Brewing Company, with "Stitches" an Oktoberfest style. It's a dark red, 8% alcohol and tastes phenomenal.
2 Borje Salming
One of the first Swedes to make an impact in the NHL, Salming was the first of his countrymen to be inducted to the Hall of Fame and played 16 great seasons as the Leafs' best defenseman. After his hockey career he started a business in Europe, specializing in underwear. The idea began in 1991 and the product's website describes the inspiration being "that you should barely notice the underwear you wear." Solid idea in our books.
1 Ken Dryden
Five time Vezina winner and six time Montreal Stanley Cup champion goalie Ken Dryden is our number one. Dryden retired from hockey in 1979, and his post retirement career has involved multiple books authored and a political career. He was elected to Canadian parliament in 2004, after a couple of years as President of the Maple Leafs. While in parliament, he ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Again, for those of you unfamiliar with Canadian politics, the Liberal Party is the closest equivalent to the Democrats but further to the left of center on the political spectrum and slightly more skilled at wasting money.