NHL Players Who Could Compete on Dancing with the Stars

Alison MyersCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2011

NHL Players Who Could Compete on Dancing with the Stars

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    Now in its 13th season, the hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars has seen many athletes take to its ballroom. Professional athletes who have participated include speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, boxer Floyd Mayweather, tennis player Monica Seles and current contestant Hope Solo, the goaltender for the U.S. Women's Soccer team.

    The schedule of the show, however, doesn't allow for many active athletes to participate. And it's a shame, because there are so many athletes we'd like to see on the dance floor.

    So with that in mind, I got to wondering: Wouldn't it be cool if somehow, there was a way for NHL players to take part in the show? And if there were, which players do we want to see in goofy costumes strutting their stuff?

    Here is a list of players that would be potential good fits for the show. While most of this list is composed of active NHL-ers, there are some retired greats on this list, as well as one player who was recently waived.

Colby Armstrong, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Colby Armstrong grew up in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, where fans came to love his sense of humor and his work ethic on the ice. He has since played for the Atlanta Thrashers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking his scoring touch and physical edge wherever her goes.

    "Army" would bring a sense of humor to the show, never taking himself seriously and taking mistakes in stride. Not to mention he has a strong female fanbase who would vote him through each week. His good attitude would help him learn many of the complicated ballroom dances, from the tango to the jive.

Sean Avery, Connecticut Whale (AHL)

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    Avery, who always seems to be starting something on the ice or off of it, was recently waived by the New York Rangers. He was assigned to the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' AHL affiliate.

    In the past, he interned with Vogue magazine, so every week, he'd have something to say about the dancers' costumes, whether his own or whatever everyone else is wearing.

    Plus, it's not like Dancing with the Stars has never seen controversy. Some of their past contestants have included Kate Gosselin and Bristol Palin, and this season, there was a firestorm when Chaz Bono was cast.

    Avery's outspoken attitude would light the reality television world on fire, but I'm not sure how long he'd last on the show. What do you think?

Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix Coyotes

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    While there's no fighting in ballroom, fighting on the ice takes a lot of coordination. You have to be able to throw punches while staying up on your skates and keep just the right grip around your opponent.

    Paul Bissonnette definitely has that part down, and his balance means he would probably be pretty good at learning how to do a salsa.

    Although I'd imagine the Stars contestants can't live-tweet the show, there are over 100,000 people who would anxiously check their Twitters to see what Biz had to say about rehearsals, female competitors and whatever else he observed during his time on the show.

    He'd also bring a high-energy personality to the dance floor, making him fun to watch the whole time.

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

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    Brodeur is one of the NHL stars everyone seems to know about, and why wouldn't you know him? He's only won almost everything in his career.

    Instant name recognition would bring a boost in ratings. Also, Brodeur is close to retirement, so he would have a lot of extra time to practice his dancing and look the best he could on the floor.

    Since Brodeur has been around the game a long time, he's played through many changes to the rules and culture of the game. I'm sure trying to learn ballroom dancing, while a challenge, wouldn't faze him much.

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

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    At 6'9", Zdeno Chara is the tallest player to ever play in the NHL. His shot is also dangerous. In the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, his shot clocked in at 105.9 mph, and he broke his own record in the process. He had previously set it at the 2009 festivities with a 105.4 mph shot.

    One can only hope that Chara wouldn't bring the same roughness to the dance floor. Could we possibly get a look at his softer side?

    There is also a good possibility for some humor, as Chara would have to dance with a woman who would be significantly shorter than he is.

Chris Chelios, Retired

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    Chelios played pro hockey until he was 48 years old. Although his skills obviously declined with age, it's not just anyone who can play a pro sport for that long. This gives him an edge in the endurance department, as ballroom dancing is quite a workout.

    He also won two Stanley Cups, an Olympic silver medal and played in 11 NHL All-Star Games, showing he can raise his game when it matters most. This means he can handle the criticism from the show's judging panel and work to improve every week.

    If the call ever comes for Chelios to participate in the show, we can only hope he'd accept.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Sidney Crosby, the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been cleared for contact and will hopefully return soon after suffering a concussion in January.

    So what would this mean for his chances in the ballroom?

    Well, he'd be in prime shape and ready to take on a new challenge. As it is, there doesn't seem to be anything he can't do on the ice. He's only won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal after all. I'm sure he could pick up a tango in no time.

    Furthermore, Crosby is just an all-around good guy. He's always ready to give an interview, and he's down to earth despite constantly being in the media spotlight. This would make him easy to cheer for, even if he were to have a bad week.

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

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    Doughty is one of the faces of a Los Angeles Kings team that is looking to become one of the powerhouse teams of the league. He signed an eight-year contract last month to remain with the team.

    Playing in a competitive Western Conference, Doughty understands how to raise his game against stiff competition. He also knows how to stay consistent and has established himself as a leader at a young age.

    Plus, having him in the national spotlight will introduce a player in a non-traditional market to fans who are used to the over-saturation of East Coast teams on NBC and Versus.

    And if this picture is any indication, it looks like he may already be practicing his partnering skills.

Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators

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    Well, if this picture is any indication, it looks like Fisher already has the footwork part of dancing down.

    Fisher, who is currently on the injured list with a shoulder injury, has been an underrated forward throughout his career. He has at least 30 points in three of the last five seasons, including a 53-point campaign in 2009-10 while he was still with the Ottawa Senators.

    The fact that he has not gotten a lot of recognition means he can break out in the competition at any time. He would do enough to get by in the beginning, but then go on a hot streak towards the middle of the show's season.

    And oh yeah, having Carrie Underwood in the audience would be a bonus.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Fleury is known for his highlight-reel saves, which sometimes consist of stops you never think he would make. This is because he is really flexible and can put himself in all kinds of positions to come up with the puck.

    He has quick reflexes, so he is always on his toes and can adapt to any situation. He's even come through in the clutch, helping the Penguins to several playoff series wins, including a Stanley Cup.

    These assets would serve "Flower" well on Dancing with the Stars. He is also fairly good-looking, so he'd probably pull off any costume well.

Wayne Gretzky, Retired

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    He's The Great One. Is there really any reason why he wouldn't be good on Dancing with the Stars?

    Enough said.

Bill Guerin, Retired

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    Guerin retired from hockey in 2010 as a Pittsburgh Penguin, and he currently serves as the player development coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate.

    During his career, Guerin won two Stanley Cups and captained the New York Islanders. He also made an impact on the Penguins upon being traded in 2009 and quickly became a fan favorite. It speaks volumes to his character that he retired a Pen despite only playing there a short time.

    Guerin's work ethic and likeable personality would fare him well on the show. Like Crosby, you just couldn't not cheer for him. He's experienced playing in a wide variety of cities with different hockey culture and now wants to help others get better, so he could even give advice to some of the other celebrity competitors.

Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Jagr returned to North America this season after playing in Russia for three seasons. He signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he currently has two assists in the Flyers' first three games.

    The NHL community seems to be split on whether they love him or hate him, which would make for some good voting controversy. But make no mistake, he can still do good things if given the chance to do so. His Stanley Cups and scoring titles prove this, as do his 31 points in 49 games for Avangard Omsk in the KHL last year.

    If he can still produce on the ice, you shouldn't count him out on the dance floor.

Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

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    Kesler has really stepped up his game in the last year-and-a-half. He won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics, went to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Canucks and captured the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward. He also served as an alternate captain for the 'Nucks.

    His newfound star power would help propel him into the national spotlight, and his high energy and skill would help him look good on the dance floor. Furthermore, as seen in the Body Issue of ESPN the Magazine, we know he has the physique for it.

    Even if he wasn't a very good dancer (but he could probably be at least halfway decent), it would be hard to not be amused at his "interview bombing" during backstage interviews, which he has already done to his teammates several times. There's probably a lot of props to be found on the Dancing With the Stars set, and Kesler would make good use of them.

Mario Lemieux, Retired

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    During his career, Lemieux won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, as well as several scoring titles and NHL MVP awards. He also bought the Pens and saved them from bankruptcy and moving from Pittsburgh. In the process, he became the first man to win the Cup as a player and an owner.

    He's also overcome cancer, an irregular heartbeat and back injuries.

    I'm pretty sure he could handle learning how to do the mambo.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings

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    Nicklas Lidstrom may be 41 years old, but last year, he was still second among NHL defensemen in scoring with 62 points. He's also won seven out of the last 10 Norris Trophies for the league's most outstanding D-man and has four Stanley Cups.

    He is the current captain of the Red Wings and knows what it takes to win, even at an advanced age. 

    Although the Dancing with the Stars mirrorball trophy doesn't mean anything, Lidstrom is the best bet of everyone on this list to add it to his already-crowded trophy case.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

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    Lundqvist, who is nicknamed King Henrik, has been a rock in the Rangers net since 2005-06. He recorded 30 wins in each of his first six seasons and earned three Vezina Trophy nominees.

    He also won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Olympics.

    Although the Rangers have had a lack of playoff success in recent years, that could very well change soon. But in the meantime, Lundqvist has shown he can carry his teammates despite the struggles of a long season and is capable of winning when the right squad is in front of him.

    In addition, his looks have earned him some recognition, as he was named one of People's Most Beautiful People and also one of the Top 25 Best Dressed people of 2008 as voted by Page Six magazine.

    King Henrik could be in good position to rule the dance floor if he got cast on the show.

Mike Modano, Retired

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    Mike Modano retired from hockey last month as one of the greatest American-born players to play the game. He was also the face of the Dallas Stars franchise and was loved even though the team decided not to offer him a contract after the 2009-10 season.

    He left the game as a 1999 Stanley Cup winner with Dallas and an eight-time NHL All-Star, as well as the holder of various NHL and Stars franchise records.

    Modano's wife, singer and actress Willa Ford, competed on the third season of Dancing with the Stars in 2006. She was the fifth contestant eliminated.

    It would be cool to see Modano do the show, just to see if he could get further than his wife did. Do you think he'd have what it takes?

Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    If it weren't for Rick Nash captaining the Columbus Blue Jackets, who knows how much worse off the team would be?

    Despite the franchise's lack of success, Nash has persevered and continued to lead the team. He has posted at least 50 points a season every year but one. He currently has five points through the squad's first four games, even though they have gone 0-3-1 to start the season.

    Nash has always risen above less-than-ideal circumstances on his team, and he could probably do it in the ballroom. If he were a good dancer, he could at least get praise and recognition for something.

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

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    If Sidney Crosby should be one of the celebrity dancers on Dancing with the Stars (see earlier slide), it's only fair that Alex Ovechkin competes as well.

    The Washington Capitals captain may not have a Stanley Cup yet, but he has won two Hart Trophies and two Rocket Richard Trophies. He also won the 2008 Art Ross Trophy and is a four-time NHL All-Star.

    His style of play tends to be very flashy, and he has scored some impressive goals, including one where he was laying on his back on the ice.

    He tends to cause some controversy as well; for example, in 2009, he did a "stick on fire" act when he scored his 50th goal of the season. The move was seen as unsportsmanlike, but Ovechkin said he was just trying to have some fun.

    Ovechkin's penchant for doing anything to stand out and the debates fans like to have about him as compared to Crosby would make him a perfect contestant.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

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    Perry broke out last year, as he had 50 goals to capture the first Rocket Richard Trophy of his career. He also won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player and finished third in the NHL with 98 points.

    And let's not forget that he was a part of the Anaheim team that won the 2007 Stanley Cup.

    Perry is proving himself to be one of the NHL's elite players. It's likely he could bring some of his finesse to the ballroom, and he will be one dancer that shouldn't be overlooked, because you never know when he could rise to the top.

Mark Recchi, Retired

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    Recchi retired after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup last year. When he announced his retirement, he was 43 years old and was the oldest active player in the league, as well as the last player who had been active in the 1980s.

    During his career, he won three Stanley Cups and played in seven NHL All-Star Games, even earning the MVP award at the 1997 festivities. He is fourth all-time with 1,652 games and 12th all-time with 1,533 points.

    Even in his later years, Recchi was durable. In his last three seasons, he only missed four regular-season games and played in every postseason game the Bruins were in.

    That physical endurance, combined with his ability to keep producing even as his career was drawing to a close (he had 48 points last season), would serve him well on Dancing with the Stars. Recchi is one of the reasons why age is just a number.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

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    The Sedin twins have been Olympic medalists, Stanley Cup finalists and have each won an Art Ross Trophy. Henrik won the award in 2010, and Daniel took it from him in 2011. These two have played together all their lives, so it only makes sense they'd be on the same season of a successful reality show.

    They've also already proved they can dance and have fun doing it. And I must say, their moves are impressive. However, Daniel gets the slight edge in that department.

Marc Staal, New York Rangers

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    Staal has been improving every year as a member of the Rangers and has acted as an alternate captain.

    He is also one of three Staal brothers currently playing in the NHL. Eric is the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, while Jordan plays for the Penguins. Eric and Jordan have each won a Stanley Cup, and Eric also has an Olympic gold medal and four NHL All-Star appearances.

    Marc is part of an improving Rangers team and is in a good place to become a solid defenseman in the NHL.

    Competing on the show would give Marc a chance to finally have his championship moment, even if the mirrorball trophy is pretty meaningless. It would also give the other Staals, including youngest brother Jared, a chance to be in the audience and be shown cheering him on.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Stamkos is building quite a career for himself in just a few years in the league. He already has a Rocket Richard Trophy and went to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. Last year, he struggled in the playoffs early, but found his scoring touch as the Lightning made an impressive run to the Eastern Conference finals.

    He then continued with a big summer. In addition to being named a cover athlete for NHL 12, he signed a new five-year contract to stay in Tampa Bay.

    Having Stamkos in the national spotlight would give the NHL another chance to continue marketing their star from a non-traditional market. He also trained with Gary Roberts prior to his sophomore season, and if he could survive that, he could probably make it through dance classes and blunt critiques from a judging panel on his dancing skills.

Max Talbot, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Talbot has never been a star during his career, but he has been famous (or infamous) for setting up key moments for his team.

    During the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup Finals run, Talbot fought then-Flyer Daniel Carcillo during the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Penguins were down 3-0 at the time of the fight. On his way to the box, Talbot put his finger to his lips as though "shushing" the crowd, and the Penguins came back from behind to win the game.

    In the finals rematch with Detroit, he scored the only two goals the Pens would need to lead the team to their third Stanley Cup.

    Talbot is also known for his crazy sense of humor and sometimes interesting style of dress. He'd be having fun in the ballroom and milking every second he was on the show. And you'd just never know when he'd come out with a strong performance, and possibly not do well after that. It's why Penguins fans generally got fed up with him after 2009, after all.