Hockey is a sport full of weird traditions and weirder people (mostly goalies). This list isn’t about them though, we tend to call those people eccentric or just odd. These are people who are flat out, balls to the wall crazy. Whether it was on the ice or off, these guys didn’t just cross the line they ripped the lineup and beat it into submission.
Nicknamed ‘The Missing Link’ this Canadian was more known for his substance abuse problems and fist fights than anything he ever did on the ice. Though to be fair his violent streak is how he got a job in the first place, the Minnesota North Stars drafted him in 1988 for Mike Modano’s protection. The North Stars got rid of him after one to many DUI arrests.
After getting booted out of the NHL he was playing in the LNAH, during a game he simply left the bench walked into the concession stand and bought a hamburger. He walked back to the bench and ate it in front of everyone (something Wikipedia hilariously calls ‘the hamburger incident). He once took part in a boxing match in full hockey gear.
‘Eddie the Eagle’ or probably more fitting ‘Crazy Eddie’ was a legendary goaltender who won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars. When he wasn’t winning games he was losing his damn mind and fighting police. While playing for Dallas he threatened the rest of his team and staff that if they touched any of his gear “He would kill them”, and got in a fist fight with his backup.
Also while playing in Dallas, a woman he was with became ‘frightened’ by how drunk he was and called the cops, while being transported to the local jail he tried to bribe the police with one billion dollars. (Yes, billion with a ‘b’)
After being traded to Florida he got arrested for being drunk and disorderly and attempting to fight a police officer with his teammate Ville Peltonen. Oh, he also has a pilot’s license, making him the only person on this list so crazy he had to leave solid ground to fully express it.
Sean Avery has never been a very good hockey player, but he excels at getting underneath people’s skin. The only problem is he took his role on the ice into his personal life and ran with it. His now infamous “sloppy seconds” speech about another NHL player dating his ex-girlfriend, doing something so ridiculous on the ice that the NHL had to make a rule change, or the fact he has now left professional hockey to pursue a career in fashion design all point to him being slightly off in the head.
When he played in L.A., he openly mocked and bullied teammate Dustin Brown and his girlfriend (who is now his wife) to the extent that the Kings had to get rid of him. He even once made fun of Jason Blake, who at the time had just been diagnosed with Leukemia. That’s just low.
Fleury was one of the smallest guys to ever play in the NHL, but he made up for it in sheer violence and insanity. When playing in juniors he started a fight during the Canada-Soviet Union game (fun fact: You’re not supposed to fight during international hockey games) which turned into an incident known as the Punch-Up in Piestany, which resulted in the disqualification of both sides.
He got so addicted to various drugs that it cost him his NHL career and a marriage. After which he played hockey in Northern Ireland of all places, and tried to start his own reality TV series about his new venture, a concrete-laying business (the pilot got shot down). To cap off the crazy he became a minority owner of the expansion Calgary Hitmen of the WHL with WWF wrestler Bret Hart. Think about how ridiculous that last part is.
Hextall is by far the most violent, aggressive, and crazy goaltender to ever lace up a pair of skates. He was suspended for six or more games on three occasions, had more than 100 penalty minutes in his first three seasons, and holds the record for the most penalty minutes recorded by a goaltender in NHL history.
During a game against the Oilers, Hextall was slashed by Glenn Anderson, the refs failed to make a call enraging the goalie. He lashed out at the next person who came by his net, winding his goalie stick up like a baseball bat he slashed the hell out of Kent Nilsson. Hextall had this to say about the slash:
“If somebody slaps you in the face, you’re going to slap him back, it’s not like he gave me a touch to jar the puck. What’s he going to do next, break my arm? I’m sorry it was Nilsson and not Anderson I hit, but I just reacted. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do.”
Yeah, he randomly lashed out at the wrong person, then refused to admit he was wrong. A different time he left his crease and blindsided Chris Chelios for no reason, to make matters worse it was after the whistle. That didn’t stop Hextall from throwing punches at the back of Chelios’s head until refs and some of his own teammates pulled him off.
On a non-crazy note, he was the first goalie to ever score a goal in the NHL. So I guess that’s something.
Gratton is a second place on the insane goalie scale. Nicknamed “Gratoony the Loony” for his weird actions both on and off the ice. He once painted a lion on his goalie mask and insisted it was a tiger. He growled at opposing players when they got to close to his crease, and hissed at people while he fought them.
While playing for the Toronto Toros of the WHA he once refused to play because the moon was in the wrong part of the sky, and he could only play if the moon was lined up with Jupiter. He also would repeatedly explain to anyone who would listen he was reincarnated and once had been a soldier of the Spanish Inquisition.
During an interview with Marv Albert he explained “in my last life I was a Spanish Count and one of the things I loved to do when I was a count in Spain was take all the commoners, line them up against the wall and throw rocks at them”.
He has been fined and suspended more times than anyone else on this list by the NHL. He would regularly throw sucker punches at people for no reason, and once knocked Scott Niedermayer unconscious with an elbow to the head when the play was nowhere near them. Not to mention the time he pulled a fan over the glass and beat them while sitting in the penalty box.
Off the ice he bounced around various sports, once playing a full season for Kosovo (even though he is Canadian) in the Canadian International Soccer League. He filed suit against an Ottawa sports radio station after they accused him of beating and cheating on his wife even though the charges were partially true.
In the mid-1990s he had an affair with a Canadian Member of Parliament, then accused her of being a home-wrecker because he was married at the time. I’m not sure which part of that is weirder.
Marty McSorley is the only player in NHL history to be found guilty of assault with a weapon for something that happened during a game. This is in a sport where fist fights aren’t only legal, but encouraged.
On February 21,2000 he swung his stick and hit Donald Brashear in the back of the head with only three seconds left in the game. The blow knocked Brashear out, who then fell backwards onto the ice and smashed his head, suffering a grade-3 concussion (also known as brain damage). He was found guilty at trial and was given 18 months’ probation and suspended from the NHL for a year. Thankfully he never played professional hockey again.
Joe Kassabian is a contributor for Outside the Redzone. Follow him on Twitter @jkass9966