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.”