TheSportster.com

Top 25 Weird Facts About Your Favorite NHL Players

Everyone's got an odd side or a weird story. Think famous people are simply devoid of any shred of quirkiness that shapes our unique personalities and characters? Think again. Kevin Garnett didn

Everyone's got an odd side or a weird story.

Think famous people are simply devoid of any shred of quirkiness that shapes our unique personalities and characters? Think again.

Kevin Garnett didn't celebrate Christmas or Halloween until he turned 19 (and he apparently also strikes the fear of God into the hearts of his teammates by threatening to throw their smartphones in the toilet). Miguel Cabrera is a big fan of tiny dogs. Chad Johnson is obsessed with orca whales. And there are plenty of athletes out there who've dabbled in the music industry at one time or another (successfully or otherwise).

When it comes to hockey players, you already know their quirks and skills on the ice - Patrick Kane can deke his way out of a crowded phone booth, Evgeni Malkin is a freight-train on skates, and Pekka Rinne lives a double-life as a contortionist.

One might assume that the majority of these guys are serious, no-nonsense, boring individuals with barely a shred of personality and too busy working on beating each other up with fists and sticks to worry about having a hobby or a regular life.

Au contraire, my friends; hockey players are notoriously legendary partiers, are the proud owners of a wide range of secret talents, and for the most part have led generally interesting lives that have led them into a weird situation or two (or have turned them into weird people on the whole).

Some of these fascinating tidbits will leave you scratching your head, shaking your head, or wondering what could possibly going on the heads of these freaks.

25 Alexei Kovalev

via habseyesontheprize.com

"Kovy" could have earned a list on his own for some of the strange things he's partaken in over the years. We'll always remember Kovalev as hockey's greatest enigma - a man with mitts smoother than Persian silk bedsheets, a crisp and enthralling Russian drawl, and the work ethic of a sloth on most nights.

Off the ice, though Kovalev personifies his on-ice nickname of "L'Artiste" (The Artist). Among other things, Kovalev flies planes in his spare time and once dabbled in the world of jazz, specifically as a saxophone player.

Too bad Kovy never used his jazz hands to pull off a saxophone themed celly after one of his many NHL goals.

24 Dany Heatley

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you really want to read up on Dany Heatley, don't bother going through his Wikipedia page. Instead, find the famous Dany Heatley parody account on Twitter and get comfortable - you'll be scrolling through "Heater's" life story for awhile.

In reality, there are in fact some interesting tidbits about Heatley. He was born in Freiburg, Germany, and has his German citizenship, meaning that if he wanted to he could have been the All-Star of the German national hockey program for years. He was forced to choose while still in junior, and ultimately ended up sticking with Canada (ultimately the right call).

23 Pavel Datsyuk

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When you hear Pavel Datsyuk speak today, you can still hear the Russian drawl in his voice - that will never go away. All things considered, his English is excellent, especially for someone who came to North America without a word of the language in his arsenal. The transition is difficult for just about anyone coming to the West from a European country, but Datsyuk attacked it with gusto and a lot of "randomness." When Datsyuk began his career in Detroit, he would pick his meals by closing his eyes and planting his finger on the menu - whatever was under it would be his order. Quite the way to get acquainted with American cuisine.

22 Jaromir Jagr

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Jaromir Jagr is slowly but surely taking over the NHL's "Most Interesting Man" title, in his own special way. The fact that he's still producing at his age is remarkable in itself - that he manages to remain relevant in what has become a young man's game is even more impressive.

One might wonder how Jagr keeps his energy levels up considering the amount of mileage he's put on his body over the past two decades. He might be getting a bit of help from sugar rushes, as he's supposedly a sucker for Kit Kat bars and Reese's Pieces cups. Not a bad thing to be "obsessed" with, if you ask me.

21 Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist should shed the nickname "King Henrik" and pick up the moniker "Shredder," because that's all he does - he shreds.

He shreds opponents hearts to pieces with timely, acrobatic and impossible saves. He shreds ladies' composure with his charm and good lucks. He sure can shred on the stage. Lundqvist is a known guitar aficionado (does this guy really need any more help attracting women?) and has even performed live on Jimmy Fallon. Suffice to say, The King has plenty of options if he wants to remain in the entertainment industry once his hockey career is over.

20 Sidney Crosby

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

You knew Sid the Kid would end up on this list.

We all know so little about him (he keeps his private life really private) that you're safe to assume that the world's premier hockey talent has a skeleton in his closet.

It's just not the skeleton you would have expected.

Crosby can skate - we all know that. A big part of that is his incredible lower body strength. Of course, the only way to produce that much energy from the lower body is to hit the gym and do hundreds upon thousands of squats (among other things). It would appear that Crosby did such a good job bulking up his legs that he can't fit into "regular" jeans - he needs to have his pants custom made so he can fit his tree trunks in comfortably.

19 Patrick Roy

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The stories of goaltenders being "a special breed" due to their quirky and sometimes insane routines or habits are not just myth - and Patrick Roy is living proof of that.

Roy had several interesting superstitions, but the weirdest and best documented has to be his relationship with his posts. Thanking your crossbar for deflecting a puck out of play instead of into the net is one thing, but having full-blown conversations with your posts is another.

Then again, Roy made talking to red metal cool, so we can't really fault him for it...not to mention that he had plenty of success with his "process."

18 Wayne Gretzky

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We're all well aware of the fact that NHL players are intense creatures of habit. Like most professional athletes, their routines must be completed properly every time they have to go out and perform, or the fear of failure will haunt them throughout the entire game (if not longer). Even those with the greatest of talents lived by routine, including the Great One himself - Gretzky had a specific pre-period routine that included a Diet Coke, ice water, a Gatorade and a second Diet Coke.

One wonders how a bathroom break didn't weasel it's way into that routine.

17 Joe Nieuwendyk 

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Like we've already mentioned, NHL players and their habits are like babies and their pacifiers - without them, they begin to howl and cry.

So just picture, for a second, if Joe Nieuwendyk found out minutes before a game that the team's equipment staff had forgotten to pack his precious baby powder.

No, you didn't read that wrong - Nieuwendyk's pre-game ritual included sprinkling baby powder on his sticks. He claimed that it was to bring luck, but more importantly, we may have found the root of the expression "soft hands."

16 Ray Bourque

Elsa Hasch /Allsport

A standard NHL intermission usually lasts anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes, give or take. That gives players enough time to fuel up, get a quick speech from the coach, maybe watch some video and make a couple of quick adjustments to strategies.

Ray Bourque apparently had no time for any of that. He was too busy changing his skate laces. Before every game and during every intermission, Bourque was slapping on a fresh pair of laces. Many of us go years without even thinking about our laces, let alone changing them. Bourque thought much higher of the strings on his feet, and we can't really fault him for it, no matter how weird it sounds - because it seems to have worked.

15 Stan Mikita

via pinterest.com

You wouldn't catch an NHL player with a cigarette in his mouth in public these days, for fear of the incredible wave of backlash that would envelop him from all angles.

Back in Stan Mikita's day, though, company's weird still allowed to advertise smokes and having a Camel dangling from your lip was as common as chewing a piece of gum today. This seemingly applied to hockey players as well, as Mikita was known for enjoying a cigarette during intermissions and making sure to toss it over his left shoulder once he was done.

14 Guy Lafleur

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Lafleur, like Mikita, enjoyed his in-game fill of nicotine and tar filling his lungs. It makes you wonder what kind of material lungs were made of back in the day (leather or titanium are my best guesses).

Lafleur did more than just enjoy a cigarette - he enjoyed several. Legend has it that you'd be hard-pressed to find Lafleur without a cigarette in between his fingers away from the rink.

Why is this weird? It's weird because we know what kind of effect cigarettes have on the body, especially the lungs, which hockey players need just as much as they do their legs, hands or head. Trying to fathom how Lafleur (and many others) managed to push through 25+ minutes a night while doubling as human chimneys is practically impossible.

13 Steven Stamkos

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When you watch Steven Stamkos rip a clapper from the top of the left circle, you wonder if he was born with the innate ability to place a puck wherever he wanted within a split-second, while having that puck travel at over 100 MPH. Surprisingly, one of Stamkos' biggest weaknesses as a young player was his shot. The rest of his talent came naturally, but his most lethal weapon was crafted and worked on over many years of hard work.

Weird is the best way to describe it, considering how good his shot is today. Goes to show that some remarkable talents can be acquired.

12 Alexei Emelin

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Alexei Emelin built his reputation in the National Hockey League with devastating hits that have forwards cowering in fear near the blue line to this day. Often times, Emelin's big checks border the line between clean and dirty, and he's often challenged by opponents trying to defend their teammate. Emelin has dropped the gloves a few times, but he shouldn't be - his face was essentially rebuilt after it was caved in during a fight he got into while playing in Russia.

Perhaps the weirdest part about it is why Emelin isn't wearing a bigger visor, or even a full cage - even the slightest of impact's could do more damage.

11 David Perron

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sportsj

For the most part, there are a couple of specific routes to make the NHL. In North America, you're either playing Major Junior by the age of 16-17, or you go the college route and play in the NCAA for a few years until you're ready to go pro. In other countries, you might be playing in elite leagues like the Swedish Elite League or the Kontinental Hockey League before you turn 18.

David Perron is one of the exceptions. By the time you're in "Midget" (generally between 15-17 years old) you're either on NHL radars or you're non-existent. Perron was not only playing single-letter house league hockey, he was in "B." Suffice to say he was off the radar.

It's an inspiring story, don't get me wrong - it's just incredible (and weird) to think that within a matter of years, Perron was able to transform his stock from afterthought to a first-round pick.

10 Paul Kariya

via cardsfromthecrease.blogspot.com

The thought of Paul Kariya brings up good memories of one of the pioneers of diminutive-but-elite scorers, and bad ones of Kariya laying motionless at centre-ice after being steamrolled by Scott Stevens.

Paul Kariya kinds of looks like a quirky dude - and while he might not necessarily be weird, he is a Star Wars geek. This doesn't mean he's weird (or anyone else who likes the series, for that matter), but it's also unexpected. It's probably the last thing anyone would have guessed Kariya was devoted to off the ice.

9 Dion Phaneuf

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Phaneuf built his reputation in the National Hockey League on his offensive prowess and massive hits. Phaneuf has built his craft exceptionally well, and while things haven't been going great in Toronto, there's no doubting his abilities.

On the side, Phaneuf has found another trade to work on - woodworking. Phaneuf has stated that the hobby is therapeutic, in a sense. One might assume that he's spent a lot more time woodworking this season that he has in the past.

8 Joe Juneau

via sportsnet.ca

Joe Juneau will always be remembered as a fantastic two-way player, who lasted in the NHL thanks in large part to his hockey sense and smarts. It would appear that those smarts also apply off the ice - in what is perhaps the most impressive accomplishment from the players on this list, Juneau is not only a pilot but he has built his own two-seat plane. Some of his teammates, most notably Brett Hull, have referred to him as the smartest man in hockey (at the time, at least) - hard to argue with that statement.

7 Carey Price

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Carey Price's road to the NHL in itself is fascinating. If you ever complain that driving to practice is tedious, remember that Price and his father had to fly to the arena because they lived so far. Price also has an interesting offseason hobby - rodeo. He's pretty good at it too, competing in competitions throughout the summer (leaving Habs fans anxiously checking in on Price's health from June until September).

Price's lassoing skills have been helping him on the ice, too, as he continues to reel in wins like they were cattle.

6 Patrick Kaleta

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, I know - Patrick Kaleta is no one's favorite NHL player. While Kaleta has earned a bad reputation on the ice, he might gain some support from fans across the league thanks to his off-ice love: Legos. Inspired by David Beckham's interest in them, Kaleta went out and got some Legos to kill time while he was injured.

"Before I knew it, I had a Lego room," he was quoted as saying.

5 Matt Cooke

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Again, we get it: you'd be hard-pressed to find a fan sporting a Matt Cooke jersey in a crowd. Regardless, Cooke has a completely different side to him off the ice, like most of his peers. Cooke's "vice" happens to be antiques - specifically collecting them, restoring them and tinkering with them in general. It's where Cooke "finds peace" away from the rink, where he is usually treated like a criminal rather than a professional hockey player (though he does have a way of bringing it upon himself).

4 Curtis Glencross

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Curtis Glencross has always been one of those "under the radar" scorers. He'll hover around 20 goals each year, with little to no fanfare. It doesn't seem to bother him much, though - besides, he has the offseason to be famous and revered, especially when he heads over to the chuckwagon arena. While he wouldn't participate in the actual races, he'd still get his fair share of "driving time" while mostly working out of the barns and interacting with the people participating in the event.

3 Teemu Selanne

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Teemu Selanne most definitely is one of the NHL fan base's favorite players, and he might grow on you even more after you read this.

The "Finnish Flash" was not only a scoring dynamo, but also a kindergarten teacher, a patrol point man with Finland's army, a race car driver and antique car collector. Talk about living life in the fast-lane, which makes his nickname all that more appropriate.

How cool must it have been to be taught by Selanne? He claims all he did was make sure the kids would play games and be happy. Sounds like a legitimate candidate for "Professor of the Year."

2 Bobby Ryan

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The word "weird" doesn't justify the kind of life Bobby Ryan has lived.

By the way, his real name isn't Bobby Ryan: it's Robert Shane Stevenson.

Ryan is seemingly living the good life now, but his formative years were marred by the uprooting of his life in a Philadelphia suburb after his father assaulted his mother in their home. The family took on the Ryan alias and fled to California, until Ryan's father was finally hauled off by U.S. Marshalls. The fact that Ryan managed to overcome his upbringing and become an NHL superstar is astonishing - but the NHL (and currently the Ottawa Senators) is better for it.

1 Brent Burns

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

This entry is perhaps the most appropriate of them all. At a glance, Brent Burns looks like a wild animal; the big, scraggly beard, untamed hair and missing teeth make his look more like a woodsman than a hockey player.

Burns is an incredible talent on the ice - off the ice, he takes his animalistic looks home to...a zoo. Of course it's Burns, of all people, who has an affinity for exotic animals. His home in Minnesota held snakes, lizards and plenty of other kinds of reptiles that will either get your adrenaline pumping or make your skin crawl.

Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in NHL

Top 25 Weird Facts About Your Favorite NHL Players