22 Great Cult Heroes in Hockey History
There are great players that everyone can fall in love with—Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Wayne Gretzky, MIke Bossy, etc. Leading a team to a Cup makes it easy to sell sweaters and have fans wanting to meet you. Kiss the baby, everyone wants a piece of the superstar.
But there are guys on the fringe that work their way into the hearts of fans as well. There are also guys that weren't even in the NHL that most hockey fans know about as well.
Here are 22 guys that could be considered a fan favorite, or "cult hero," to hockey fans almost everywhere.
How does a guy with five career NHL goals have over 181,000 followers on Twitter?
That's the case with BizNasty, who is one of the more entertaining players in the league, even if his numbers aren't as electric as his personality.
He scored 14 goals in 589 games, but his name hangs in the rafters with his number retired in Chicago. He was one of the most respected players in the history of the game, both for his on-ice approach and his work off the ice on behalf of the organization. He was the captain, and later coach, of the Hawks.
The player-coach of the Chiefs did everything he could to make them competitive, even if it included making up relocation rumors. Maybe he'd be a good fit in Columbus?
Ever since he took up residence in Boston, Thornton has been one of the fans' favorites on the Bruins. In fact, he had two days with the Stanley Cup this summer: one so his hometown could see it, and another in the streets of Boston.
Loved for his play on the ice, Hextall was an eccentric netminder who played with an approach not many brought to the game. He was goofy and successful, which makes him a perfect fan favorite for Philadelphia.
A fantastic leader who won the hearts of fans in Toronto, Clark is still a guy that can walk into a dressing room and shut up the players. Many feel he may have been the best captain in Leafs history.
Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar
Pretty self-explanatory. They played street hockey, and people love them.
With his enormous mustache and charismatic playing style, almost every hockey fan was hoping he would win a Cup before retiring. He did win the Cup in Calgary, and he's continued to be one of the most sought-after personalities each Hall of Fame weekend.
His legend may have been cemented with his unfortunate, way-too-early passing this past summer. Boogard was a tough guy who was noted to be a fantastic teammate. Fans in every market he played in loved him on and off the ice.
Made up of Mark Pavelich, John Harrington and Buzz Schneider on the famous 1980 US men's Olympic hockey team, the Coneheads got their name from the skit on Saturday Night Live.
He bought the Detroit "Dead Wings" when they had bottomed out and has turned them into one of the model franchises in all of professional sports. Almost everything he's done since buying the Wings has been right, and their success on the ice is a reflection of the excellence he has forced onto the once-sad organization. In Detroit, he's almost a god.
Not a household name because of his playing ability, but more likely because of a song written about him that hit the top 10 on the charts. He was a lively character who Toronto fell in love with.
Just because he had to fight to keep his spot on the ice doesn't mean people don't love Rob Lowe...I mean Dean Youngblood.
Perhaps the greatest goaltender of the 20th Century, Tretiak played on some of the most dominant Russian teams ever. Many recent netminders, especially Ed Belfour, consider him to be a great mentor as well.
He was a Hall of Fame player with the Red Wings, but his cult hero status comes from a move that ultimately led to an ugly divorce with the Detroit organization. Lindsay was instrumental in the formation of the NHL Players Association, which didn't sit well with Red Wings ownership and led to him being traded (more like exiled) to Chicago in a trade. Everything was eventually OK between Lindsay and the Wings.
The Hanson Brothers
Yes, they take their cars on the road. And they do little more than fight. But pretty much every hockey fan knows who the Hanson brothers are—and it has nothing to do with "Mmmbop."
Just as Ilitch brought the Dead Wings back from the grave, Rocky Wirtz took over the Blackhawks when his father passed and turned the organization around in a remarkably short time. Any long-time Hawks fan will tell you that, five years ago, the last thing anyone expected was a standing ovation with chanting when a Wirtz took the mic on the ice, but Rocky has had that happen more than once.
"Seabass" was the Bruins to a generation of fans, and he continues to be part of the legendary franchise in Boston as a member of the front office. If you saw the reception he received when he stepped on the ice during their banner ceremony this year, you know what he means to fans of the B's.
A career minor-leaguer, Mirasty has been a legendary fighter all over the continent in the last decade. Some of his fights have come against names most NHL fans would recognize, while others have just been Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em robots for hockey fans. Here's a taste.
One of the great all-time fighters and teammates in the history of the league, almost everyone that played with Probert loved him, while everyone that played against him respected his ability. An underrated scorer who made his mark with his fists, he's the one that is loved in both Detroit and Chicago.
The captain of the 1980 Olympic team, he led the US to the gold medal and has been immortalized in film and artwork. His leadership on that team is legendary, and his bringing the rest of the team onto the medal stand was beyond words.