Hockey is a violent, physical game played by some of the finest gentlemen athletes in North America.
While headlines are grabbed by ugly injury-causing hits, there is a lot of action off the ice that fans in every market can be proud of. From charitable work to treating fans like family, there are a lot of hockey players doing great things.
In this slideshow, we'll look at 20 of the true class acts in the NHL. Because it's impossible to rank one person's good work as being "better" than another's, this is simply a look at 20 players that are classy in every way.
He probably defines the word "class" in three or four languages. The long-time Red Wing and future Hall of Famer has represented Detroit and the game better than anyone over the past 20 years.
When tempted to "pump the tires" of Roberto Luongo during the Stanley Cup Finals, Thomas chose to turn the other cheek. After winning the Cup—and the Conn Smythe...and the Vezina—he took his U-Haul full of hardware to his church and hung out for the day.
Truly one of the great human beings in the game.
One of the classiest players in the game, Phoenix's captain has remained close to his church-filled upbringing by scribbling a Bible verse on his stick each night. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2010, years after he won the respect of his peers.
Whether or not he comes back is a question only he can answer, but nobody questions the Hall of Fame career of Selanne.
Years of scoring, winning and competing the right way have made him someone any player would want to play with, and fear playing against. He won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2006.
One of the most emotional stories in the last few years was that of Théodore during the 2009-10 season.
Following the awful, premature death of his son, Théodore turned in his best season in nearly a decade and won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
Winning four consecutive Lady Byng Memorial Trophies after the lockout tells you a lot about the respect people around the league have for Datsyuk, who has also won the Selke three times.
Lundqvist is one of the best-dressed and, according to People Magazine, sexiest players in the league, but he also has a huge heart.
As of 2009, Lundqvist is the Rangers rep on the Garden of Dreams Foundation, which works with Madison Square Garden's tenants to host charitable events and offer unique opportunities to sick kids.
The youngest captain in Kings history, Brown won the 2011 NHL Foundation Player Award for his involvement with organizations all over the Los Angeles area. He might not put up the enormous numbers of some of the other players on this list, but he's just as classy.
Recently married, the 2011 NHL All-Star Game MVP signed a long-term contract extension with the Blackhawks in early August. He is regularly the team's representative at functions in the community, and appears to be set to stay in Chicago for most of the rest of his career.
Certainly not the biggest player on the list, St. Louis has won the last two Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for being a gentleman on the ice...which means he's nice to you after he scores.
The following players have been all-class throughout their careers, but may not be part of the NHL in the coming season:
Sopel has signed to play in Russia, but has been one of the league's class acts for a long time. Despite being traded out of Chicago days before, he still attended Chiacgo's Gay Pride Parade with the Stanley Cup.
Turco took a substantial pay cut to play in Chicago last year and, after losing the starting job early in the year to Corey Crawford, never complained once. He was a solid mentor for the youngster, and Chicago got to see the elite person that blessed Dallas for over a decade.
Modano is contemplating retirement right now after heading home to Michigan for one year. He has been all class his entire career, and won't have a hard time finding work in the game when his playing career ends.
Also a recipient of the Lady Byng, Richards received an enormous contract this summer to join Lundqvist and the Rangers.
For the past few years, Richards has hosted a golf tournament supporting Children’s Wish Foundation, Prince Edward Island Chapter and Autism Society of Prince Edward Island. While in Dallas he was also known to regularly give tickets to families of sick children.
Quietly one of the most philanthropic players in the game, Campbell founded Campbell for Kids and has raised well over $100,000 in the last couple years for a number of organizations, including Autism Speaks.
Always willing to answer the media and talk to fans, he's taking his class act to Florida this season.
The winner of the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2010, Miller is as good off the ice as he is between the pipes. With his father, Miller founded The Steadfast Foundation to help support families dealing with cancer.
The winner of the Hart and Rockey Richard trophies in 2011, Perry is quietly one of the most competitive gentlemen in the game.
The fact that the long-time captain of the Flames hasn't asked to be traded out of the mess in Calgary shows the character he brings to the rink every night.
He's one of the most respected veterans in the game, both because of the hard-nosed approach he brings to the ice and the loyalty he has to the sweater he wears. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2004.
Nash, like Iginla, has had every reason to ask for a trade during the last couple years, but the captain of the Blue Jackets has remained faithful to Columbus. He won the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2009.
Winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2007, Koivu recovered from a battle with cancer and founded Saku Koivu Foundation. Since 2002, his foundation has raised well over $3 million.
Moreau won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2009 and has been involved in charitable work in every stop of his long NHL career.
One of the most respected veteran Canadians in the league, Smyth was traded to Edmonton this summer to finish his career where it all began.
He won the 2009 King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his work with the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation, which helps families and children dealing with pediatric cancer.
In 2010, the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center opened at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL.