You need to have a multitude of skills if you wish to one day play in the National Hockey League: examples of these are poise, speed, strength and decision-making. What many NHL players have shown us, however, are that one can play professional hockey with a couple screws loose.
Every sport has its own personality with the characters that it holds, and hockey has in some ways set the standard for overall kookiness. So today, we are counting down the top five oddest and eccentric players to ever lace up their skates.
5. Bruce Gardiner
Gardiner got his start in 1997 with the Ottawa Senators, and played until the 2002 season. He never did anything prolific in his six-year NHL run. Unless you count dunking your hockey stick in the toilet before every game as prolific, because that is what Gardiner did.
4. Sidney Crosby
Crosby is probably one of the biggest names in the NHL today, who also has some of the weirdest superstitions. Besides being completely crazy about how his hockey stick is taped, Crosby also refuses to talk to his mother on game days. That is certainly one way to say thank you.
3. Gilles Gratton
So we are going a little old school here, but this guy is nuts. Gratton earned the nickname “Gratoony the Loony” when he became the goalkeeper for the St. Louis Blues in 1972. It has been documented by his teammates that he missed a couple games due to the moon not being “aligned properly with Jupiter.” According to Kevin Goff of Bleacher Report, Gratton also confessed to reporter Marv Albert that he was a part of a Spanish Court in one of his past lives, and one of his favorite activities was to “throw rocks at the commoners.” Gratton did not have the most successful of NHL careers for some odd reason, but he is certainly worthy of a quick Google search.
2. John Tortorella
Tortorella has been dubbed one of the most colorful coaches in NHL history. The longtime coach has done everything possible to not have a job, but yet continues to find work. Some of Tortorella’s best work includes starting a fight with the opposing team’s coach in the hallway before the game, as well as attempting to beat a rowdy fan with a hockey stick over the protective glass. If you have not seen Tortorella go at it with New York Rangers beat writer Larry Brooks, then you need to stop what you are doing and do a quick search. Quite frankly, whatever comes out of John Tortorella’s mouth is pure comedic gold.
1. Ilya Bryzgalov
The man, the myth, the legend himself. Bryzgalov is well known around the NHL as having one of the strangest personalities one will ever find. While the team name on his jersey has changed multiple times, his on and off ice quirkiness has remained constant. Where does one even start with good ol’ Ilya? A video published by YouTube user Matty 2792 entitled “Risky Bryzness” gives a fantastic and funny 10 minute compilation on just how eccentric the goalie can be. Through the video, one will find Bryzgalov’s “thoughts” on the universe, snarky comments to numerous reporters, and a hilarious comparison between the looks of his Siberian husky’s to that of an, according to Bryzgalov, “hot girl.” Ilya Bryzgalov is proof that everything sounds better with a Russian accent.
The NHL has already begun the 2015-16 season with exhibition play. This year’s journey will most certainly be another saga in just what happens when individuals take too many pucks to their noggin.