10 NHL Players More Concerned with Their Image Than Their Performance

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor ISeptember 27, 2012

10 NHL Players More Concerned with Their Image Than Their Performance

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    This was a very difficult list for me to compile, and I'm sure I'll hear plenty of feedback from the fans of the teams and players featured in this piece.

    Please note the players on this list are here because of their reputations. Whether or not those reputations are deserved may be another issue.

    Whether it's too much concern with off-ice issues, fashion, toughness or immaturity, all of these players have become known for things they do or say off the ice rather than what they do on the ice.

    So here it is, the 10 players more concerned with their image than their on-ice performance.

10. Sean Avery

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    OK, I know he's no longer in the NHL, but no list like this can be complete without mentioning Sean Avery.

    If you like Avery, he's just a misunderstood guy who was "different" attitude-wise from most hockey players. The former-Rangers super pest was always interested in fashion and his image away from the ice.

    If you are not an Avery fan, he represented everything that was wrong about the sport. He didn't follow the "code" of conduct NHL players were supposed to follow, antagonized opponents but wouldn't drop the gloves when challenged and delivered many cheap shots.

    Either way, Avery was always very concerned with fashion and other "off-ice" interests, and so, he gets the lowest spot on this list.

9. Henrik Lundqvist

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    It's tough to put Henrik Lundqvist on this list because he truly is dedicated to winning hockey games and the one major thing that has eluded him in his career: a Stanley Cup title.

    Still, Lundqvist is very interested in fashion and how he looks on the red carpet, and therefore, appears near the bottom of this list.

    After all, it's not every hockey player who gets a feature article in Women's Wear Daily and GQ.

    Lundqvist seems to have it all. He's wealthy, successful on the ice and fashionable off the ice. Putting him on this list is not a criticism, but his interest in image and fashion does place him on the list.

8. Ilya Bryzgalov

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    It's was tough for me to decide whether Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov belonged on this list. His showing in last year's 24/7 on HBO, which led up the Winter Classic, was unique.

    It seems like Bryzgalov was just being different and a typical goalie with a unique way of looking at the world.

    But in the end, that became a sort of image for Bryzgalov, which has stuck with him through the end of the season. Add that to the lack of success Bryzgalov had personally in the playoffs (an uneven performance at best) and the Flyers' surprise second-round exit, and you have his inclusion on this list.

7. Joe Thornton

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    "Jumbo" Joe Thornton has accomplished a lot in his NHL career: He's led the Sharks to a President's Trophy, won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point-getter and the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

    Three times Thornton has topped the 100-point mark in a season, including a career-best 125 in 2005-06, the year he was traded from the Bruins to the Sharks.

    But Thornton's critics say his "laid-back" personality is a little too laid-back, and that it's no coincidence that his teams have not even reached the Stanley Cup Final, let alone won a championship.

    Now 33, the window for Thornton and the Sharks to win a Stanley Cup is closing, and Thornton needs a win to prove his mellow image is not more important to him than winning a title.

6. Patrick Kane

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    Patrick Kane's problem may be a bit different than most on this list. He may be too UNCONCERNED with his image, and that may truly be his issue.

    Nevertheless, his image as a carefree party boy who gets in trouble when he has a little too much to drink definitely has made him look bad on more than a few occasions.

    Kane has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a cab driver over 20 cents change and had another alleged drunken incident at the University of Wisconsin this past May.

    The bottom line is that his off-ice escapades are hurting his on-ice performance and his image.

    Kane will be 24 this November, and it's time for him to show some maturity.

5. Tim Thomas

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    Please, I don't want to hear from those who agree with Thomas' political views that he's well within his rights to speak his mind, etc. Yes he is, and that's fine; I have no problem with it. Whether anybody agrees or disagrees with the Bruins' goalie's politics (and I won't say where I stand on that), he is within his rights.

    It's just that since his controversial decision not to attend the White House celebration honoring the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup win, Thomas seems to have gone out of his way to make his political views known, tweeting about everything from President Obama to a certain fast-food chicken chain.

    Add that to his decision to sit out the 2012-13 season to spend more time with his family, and it just appears Thomas has other things on his mind besides hockey these days.

4. Dany Heatley

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    When it comes to winning and heart, many critics say Wild forward Dany Heatley just doesn't have what it takes.

    Heatley's career in Atlanta was derailed after he was the driver in an accident that killed teammate Dan Snyder.

    In Ottawa, Heatley had success on the ice, including back-to-back 50-goal and 100-point seasons, but after a disappointing season, he demanded that the Sens trade him.

    Then, Heatley disappointed fans with his uneven play in San Jose and again in his first year in Minnesota.

    The fact that Heatley asked for trades when things got tough in Atlanta and Ottawa and the fact that he has never won a Stanley Cup hasn't helped Heatley's image as immature and more concerned with his own success than his team's.

3. Roberto Luongo

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    Roberto Luongo's ego may just be the one thing bigger than his talent.

    The Canucks goalie has been "The Man" in Vancouver since arriving there in 2006. Unfortunately, Luongo's inconsistency in big playoff games and his very high salary made it more attractive for the Canucks to start Cory Schneider in last year's playoffs. Once he was supplanted as the starter, Luongo more or less asked out of Vancouver.

    Luongo has been very busy being "Bobby Loo," the image he carries in Vancouver in his many endorsement deals and commercials. Perhaps he needs to concentrate more on winning playoff games. He never even made the playoffs before arriving in Vancouver.

    We'll see how he does after he leaves the Canucks if the team can find someone eager to assume the remaining 10 years left on the 33-year-old netminder's contract.

2. P.K. Subban

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    P.K. Subban may just be immature and cocky, but it's that immaturity and cockiness that shines through more than his hockey ability all too often.

    Subban has upset many fans and even teammates throughout his brief NHL career with his actions both on and off the ice.

    That reputation may change as the 23-year-old Subban gains experience.

1. Alex Ovechkin

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    Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin has seen his point totals slip over the past two seasons, and one possible explanation that has been offered is that he is not paying enough attention to his job.

    Washington's associate goalie coach, Olie Kolzig, said that Ovechkin was too wrapped up in his "rock star image" these days, and that was part of the reason for his decline.

    If Kolzig is correct, Ovechkin belongs at the top of this list, a man full of talent but more interested in enjoying the benefits of stardom than working hard at being the best hockey player he can be.