Monday, August 3, 2009

Top 10 Hockey Bro-mances

There are players we love to hate, (see Sean Avery, Chris Pronger, Steve Ott), players we hate to love, (Dany Heatley, Mats Sundin, Brendan Shananhan), and haters that just want to be loved, (Marty Havlat, Marian Gaborik, Olli Jokinen). But every once in a while, we'll hear about something that just makes us hard-ass hockey fans gush over. Whether its a winning personality with a smart-alecy attitude, or a big bag of knuckes and a chip on the shoulder, some guys just give us serious man-crushes.

Here are their stories...

10. Chris Drury
What is it about this plucky centerman that just says success? Is it his Stanley Cup ring with Colorado. Or his Olympic Silver Medal with the US in the 2002 Winter Games. Or maybe its collecting the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, and the Hobey Baker in '98, (only player in history to win both). Or maybe winning the National Championship with Boston University in '95 as a freshman. But we can go back even earlier. High school? State Championship with Fairfield College Prep. PeeWee? National Championship with his Bridgeport, CT team. And probably the most used anecdotal reference, winning the Little League World Series in 1989 beating Taiwan by pitching a complete game giving up 5 hits, and driving in two runs. While not a member of the Triple Gold Club, Drury's had success on just about every level on the ice, and isn't a bad guy off the ice as well. Then again, maybe it's just those bangs.

9. Roberto Luongo
Is it that winning smile, or those greasy, dago curls? One of the two, or maybe his keen goaltending skills that has allowed him to retain the status as one of the premier netminders in the league. He symbolizes the Vancouver Canuck franchise being the latest goaltender to be named Captain since the late 1940's. He holds various team goaltending records for both the Canucks and the Panthers including the most shutouts, the most shutouts in a season, and the most wins in a season. Despite holding the league record for facing the most shots in a playoff game, stopping 72 of 76 shots in a 5-4 quadruple overtime win over Dallas in 2007, (his 1st NHL playoff game), he has had limited playoff success never making it past the second round. In the last year of his 4year $27million deal, he'll look for another big payday to close out his career. Bob-o gets extra points for netting hot wife, Gina.

8. Henrik Zetterberg
Doesn't Hank just scream hunkiness? Despite looking like Jared Leto's stunt double, Big Z came out of Sweden on the down low selected in the seventh round, 210th overall, in the '99 Entry Draft. A member of the Triple Gold Club, Sasha grabbed a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Games and another gold at the World Championship before completing the trifecta with a Cup and a Conn Smythe in 2008. A 30-goal scorer for the last four seasons, Zata is recognized for his responsible two-way play nominated for the Selke as Best Defensive Forward in 2008, losing out to teammate Pavel Datysuk. Recently signed a 12year $72million deal and triple word score for uber-hot fiancee Emma Andersson, even though his band isn't doing as well.

7. Vinny Lecavalier
Isn't this photo enough to make you jealous? No doubt Vinny is pulling plenty of Floridian beauties, in between Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoots with gorgeous foreign models. Drafted first overall in the '98 Entry Draft, he was billed as "the Michael Jordan of Hockey" by the crappy marketing department in Tampa. Winning the Stanley Cup at age 24 in 2004, he went on later that year to win the Gold at the World Cup and take MVP honors. In the 2006-07 season he became the first Lightning player to record 50 goals in a season, finishing with 52 and earning the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy as the league leading goal scorer. In the 2008 offseason he signed an 11year $85million contract extension, and since then has been shrouded in rumors of a potential trade to Montreal. No player has been more coveted by the Habs since they purchased the QSHL to acquire the rights to Jean Beliveau. Granted he's a local boy, but the way the francophones are clamour for this guy you'd think he was the second coming (see #4). Not a bad guy off the ice as well, donating $3million to a Children's Hospital in Florida and being awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in '08 for the work of his Foundation to benefit chronically ill youth. Not bad for a hump day hottie.

6. Evgeni Malkin
Tell me those legs aren't enough to make the ladies swoon? Even though Geno talks like Chewbacca, his lack of grasp of the English language has made him endearing to the media and the fans. Either that or his dominating presence in the game. Selected 2nd overall in the 2004 Entry Draft (behind #1, literally), he had to escape the Iron Curtain in the summer of 2006 in order to start his NHL career. And start he did, setting the modern record of a goal in the first of his six games in the League and going on to win Calder Rookie honors. He followed up that season with 100-plus point totals the next two, propelling the Penguins to the Cup finals, losing the first year in 2007, and winning the second, this year. In his best season to date, he collected the Conn Smythe with his SC ring, and the Art Ross Trophy finishing with 113 points. Bonus points for dating Oksana Kondakova, but loses out since she's also going to make his life hell.

5. Patrick Kane
Doesn't this kid look like he should be on the cover of Teen Beat or Bop magazine as the latest teenage heartthrob? Believe it or not, he'll actually turn 21 just after the season starts, but still has a lot to accomplish in his young career. Drafted 1st overall in the 2007 Entry Draft he didn't disappoint, winning the Calder with 72 points and playing in all 82 games. This past season, he was a 25 goal scorer and boosted the Hawks into the Western Conference Finals, their first postseason appearance since '02, with 9 goals and 5 assists in the playoffs. Gains points for having three hot sisters eventhough he got kicked by a Mule.

4. Carey Price
Is this the new ad for Calvin Klein's fragrance for men, and women? No, its Jesus Price the chain-smoking, goaltending savior of the Montreal Canadiens, (since Patrick Roy left town). Another young kid, drafted 5th overall in the 2005 Draft class, but didn't make his professional debut until the 2007-08 season. Recognized as a top prospect at the Junior level in the Western Hockey League, in 2007 he was awarded the Del Wilson Trophy and the CHL Goaltender of the Year award. That same year he went 6-0, with 2 shutouts at the World Junior Chamionships in Sweden, winning Gold for Team Canada, and earning Top Goaltender and Tournament MVP honors. After signing his entry level deal with Montreal, he put in work with the Hamilton Bulldogs, backstopping them to the Calder Cup where he earned MVP honors taking home the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy. Like Mr. Kane, he is at the beginning of a bright career, breaking hearts and stopping pucks. Even if he does scare the crap out of you.

3. T. J. Oshie
Is it the yellow that brings out his eyes? Either way, this young gun from '05 Draft class has jumped onto the scene and into a lot of hockey fans hearts. He played three years with the Fighting Sioux of UND finishing with over 40points each season, and then skipped his Senior year to join St. Louis. Just finished up his first season with the Blues and he's already won "Goal of the Year" recognition for his slick moves on the Canucks defense, (including removing #9's jock). Of course the big victory for him this year was returning the Notes to postseason status, having to make their way through Central Division rival Columbus, and therefore through Rick Nash. Became so popular with the Blues fanbase that they actually began a campaign to write his name in for the St. Louis Mayoral election. But he's really pissed that he can't make Gretzky's head bleed like Roenick.

2. Milan Lucic
Do you really wanna mess with that? Had a slow, and disappointing start to his hockey career being passed over in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft, but was then offered a tryout with the Burnaby Express Junior A team. Failing to make the cut, he was presented with the opportunity to play for the Delta Ice Hawks Junior B team which he used as a springboard to land a permanent roster spot on the Express. He eventually played his way onto the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, and in his first full season with the team contributed to the winning of the Ed Chynoweth Cup for WHL Champion in 2006. In that year's Entry Draft, he was selected in the second round, 50th overall by the Boston Bruins but returned to Vancouver for another season. That following season he put the Giants on his back, finishing first in team scoring with 68points, and leading them to a return trip to the WHL finals. Losing out on the repeat, Looch and the Giants charged back to win the Memorial Cup, and he was awarded the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy for tourney MVP. With only two years in the League under his belt, he has already drawn comparisons to Bruins great Cam Neely for his fiesty temperament and his nose for the net, epitomizing old-time, hard-nosed hockey.

1. Alex Ovechkin
What's not to love? Ovie is an international ambassador to the sport, and the kind of player that transcends boundaries into the mainstream world. Whether its his highlight reel goals, his larger than life personality, or just his candid answers to media questioning, everything he does seems to be entertaining. There's no question he's the best player in the entire league, and by far the most exciting to watch, with plenty of hardware to back it up. The Calder for his rookie season in 2006, and for the last two years winning the Lester B. Pearson as the most outstanding player of the regular season as voted by the NHLPA, the Hart Memorial as MVP, and the "Rocket" Richard as leading goal scorer. He also won the Art Ross in 2008 making him the first player in history to garner all four in the same season. Halfway through that season the Washington Capitals offered him a 13year extension for $124 million, the richest contract in league history. Recently named the ambassador to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the southwestern Russian town of Sochi, he's already earned Golds at the World Junior Championship in 2003, and another in the World Championships in 2008. With plenty of goals scored, shots taken, and point streaks, the ultimate prize still eludes him only reaching the postseason twice in his four seasons, he hasn't led the Caps past the second round. But his determination and his passion for the game speak volumes and will no doubt lead to more success and thrills for hockey fans everywhere.

Honorable Mention
Mike Richards - He's the next Captain Canada, but he hangs out with pornstars.

Martin Brodeur - Its all about the defensive system. And tagging your wife's sister.

Tim Thomas - He kills bears dude. And he's on the Bruins. The irony is not lost.

Jarome Iginla - He fights, and he scores goals. Hunky.
George Parros - The mustache says it all.
Anybody I missed? Did I include someone who shouldn't have been on here? Did I get the order screwed up? Let me know, and I'll pretend to care.

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