Kipper Phaneuf

Here’s your annotated history of smoking in the NHL


Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater has compiled a great collection of hockey’s best smoking anecdotes.

Titled “When the NHL lit lamps and smokes“, Dater’s piece looks back at the laundry list of legends that routinely hacked darts — Stan Mikita, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Denis Savard, to name a few.

Here’s a great bit from the article:

One of the most openly notorious NHL smokers of all was Al “Planet” Iafrate, a defenseman known for his big slap shot and bigger appetite for nicotine.

“I remember my first NHL exhibition game as an assistant with Philly (in 1990),” says Ken Hitchcock, who now coaches the St. Louis Blues. “We were in Washington, and I went to give the lineup to the referees and you had to walk by the Washington dressing room. And Al Iafrate was lighting up with a blowtorch for bending sticks. Coming from junior hockey, I found that rather unique.”

Anyone who covered the NHL when Iafrate played from 1984 until his retirement in 1998 as a San Jose Shark probably saw him sitting on a chair outside the dressing room with his shirt (and sometimes pants) off, puffing away. Legend has it that Iafrate once bummed a cigarette off an Ottawa reporter between periods, lighting it up in his customary blowtorch blaze of glory.

While the number of smokers in today’s NHL has dwindled, you still hear/see evidence of it from time to time. Montreal goalie Carey Price has been spotted burning coffin nails (see here and here), Dion Phaneuf and Miikka Kiprusoff were caught while teammates in Calgary (pictured above) and Alex Semin was busted at the 2010 World Championships (see here).

In a similar vein, there are plenty of players that use chewing tobacco. Todd Bertuzzi seemingly can’t go anywhere without his chaw, but the most dip-friendly team might be the Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonas Gustavsson, Tyler Bozak and yes, even GM Brian Burke.)

Finally, there are the cigar aficionados. Former Tampa Bay Lightning teammates Stan Neckar and Dave Anderychuk have taken their love of stogies to the next level, co-founding a line of mobile cigar lounges.

“Me and Dave would always smoke cigars,” Neckar said of his playing days. “The day we won a Cup, we smoked lots of them.”

Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?

Coyotes exploit another lousy outing from Quick

Jonathan Quick

Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.

Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.

Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).


A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:

Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.

It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.


After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.

Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.