Ranking the 10 Biggest NHL Oddballs in the Last Decade

Brad KurtzbergContributor IJuly 29, 2013

Ranking the 10 Biggest NHL Oddballs in the Last Decade

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    While the culture of the NHL may discourage players from showing individuality, that doesn't always stop players from doing so. With that in mind, here is a look at the 10 biggest oddballs in the NHL over the last decade.

    Keep in mind that being an "oddball" is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It just means that this hockey personality is "different" from most in the hockey community.

    A person could be on this list for a routine he has, the way he dresses, the way he behaves, a habit he may have picked up along the way or for any number of reasons.

    Also, keep in mind that this list is limited to the past decade, so the person in question must have played, coached or been associated with the NHL from 2003 to the present.

    This list is not meant to be a criticism of these people and is primarily for fun. Feel free to add any "oddballs" you think I may have missed and indicate why they belong on the list.

10. Brent Burns

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    San Jose's Brent Burns has a unique "zoo" in his home that includes, among other things, a large collection of snakes.

    Here is a video of Burns showing off his many pets and even showing how he feeds some of them. It's not always easy to watch.

    Either way, this Shark loves snakes, and this collection of pets helped place him on our list.

9. Ryan Miller

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    Goalie Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres has a unique pregame ritual.

    The former Michigan State star's ritual before every game involves meditation and envisioning the upcoming game and how he'll perform in it.

    This unique ritual seemed to work well for Miller, at least until last season.

8. Alex Ovechkin

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    Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Alex Ovechkin has a unique personality.

    Sometimes intense and sometimes playful, Ovechkin seems to know when to have fun and when to take himself seriously.

    At the All-Star Skills Competition in 2009, "The Great Eight" wore sunglasses and a cowboy hat during the Breakaway Challenge.

    The Russian sniper also wears gold laces on his skates, which makes him stand out even more in the usually conservative world of the NHL.

    Of course, winning a Stanley Cup would solidify Ovechkin's standing as an all-time great and make him "colorful" or "quirky" in the eyes of fans and the media.

    Either way, Ovechkin isn't afraid to show his personality, and that makes him a bit of a hockey oddball.

7. Tim Thomas

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    There's no need to discuss Tim Thomas' political views. Whether you agree or disagree with Thomas' politics or his decision not to attend the Bruins' White House reception, the former Bruins goalie made this list for one reason: He chose to express his political views at all.

    Very few modern athletes take political stands on anything; most of them likely believe that controversy is bad for their image and can take away any potential endorsement money they may be able to make.

    Either way, Thomas took his stand and earned a place on the list.

    Thomas did another thing that few modern athletes do. He walked away from the game for a year when he was still under contract and set to earn millions of dollars.

6. Jeremy Roenick

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    Jeremy Roenick earns a spot on our list for being outspoken and colorful, both during his playing career and as a broadcaster.

    Roenick once got into an infamous feud with Patrick Roy which Roy ended when he said he couldn't hear JR because his Stanley Cup rings were blocking his ears.

    As a broadcaster, Roenick isn't afraid to speak out, as you can see in this video which shows him debating Mike Milbury.

    Roenick's brash personality and love of the camera earned him a spot on our list.

5. Dominik Hasek

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    Goalie Dominik Hasek was one of a kind. The future Hall of Famer had an oddball style of playing goal. It wasn't a traditional standup way of stopping the puck, and it wasn't a typical butterfly style either. Hasek just did whatever he could to stop the puck.

    Hasek dove for the puck and stretched out on the ice and twisted himself into unusual positions. Yet as unusual as it looked, Hasek became one of the most successful goalies of all time.

    By the end of his career, Hasek had accumulated 389 wins and 81 shutouts in the NHL.

4. John Tortorella

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    John Tortorella became a hockey oddball for his battles with the press and for holding some of the shortest and most absurd postgame pressers in the sport.

    Torts also went as far as to insult his players to the media in an attempt to motivate his charges, something that didn't always work.

    Tortorella admitted he needs to change his ways when it comes to dealing with the media when he arrived in Vancouver this summer. We'll see how successful he can be with that and with the team overall.

3. Don Cherry

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    There is no personality in hockey quite like Don Cherry.

    "Grapes" should make this list for the suits he wears on CBC's "Coach's Corner" segment alone.

    His bombastic style and fearlessness to speak out on any issue also make Cherry unique.

2. Sean Avery

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    Sean Avery certainly did a lot to stand out in the hockey community.

    His interest in fashion was atypical of most hockey players, but his behavior both on and off the ice often got him into trouble with teammates and opponents alike.

    Avery had NHL rules changed overnight when he blocked the vision of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur during a playoff game in a unique way.

    He also was a pest on the ice who specialized in getting under the skin of opponents.

    But Avery's biggest moment on the oddball stage was his infamous "sloppy seconds" comment, shown above. It got Avery suspended, and eventually, the Stars let him go.

    If you're easily offended, don't listen to this video of Avery's rather rude comments.

1. Ilya Bryzgalov

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    Ex-Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov became the unintentional star of HBO's 24/7 Flyers/Rangers series when he attempted to explain how he views the universe.

    It may have been the fact that English is not Byrz's first language, or it may just be that the Russian netminder is a bit more philosophical than most in hockey, but either way, Bryz found his way to the top of this list.