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Here’s your annotated history of smoking in the NHL

Feb 29, 2012, 6:58 PM EDT

Kipper Phaneuf

Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater has compiled a great collection of hockey’s best smoking anecdotes.

Titled “When the NHL lit lamps and smokes“, Dater’s piece looks back at the laundry list of legends that routinely hacked darts — Stan Mikita, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Denis Savard, to name a few.

Here’s a great bit from the article:

One of the most openly notorious NHL smokers of all was Al “Planet” Iafrate, a defenseman known for his big slap shot and bigger appetite for nicotine.

“I remember my first NHL exhibition game as an assistant with Philly (in 1990),” says Ken Hitchcock, who now coaches the St. Louis Blues. “We were in Washington, and I went to give the lineup to the referees and you had to walk by the Washington dressing room. And Al Iafrate was lighting up with a blowtorch for bending sticks. Coming from junior hockey, I found that rather unique.”

Anyone who covered the NHL when Iafrate played from 1984 until his retirement in 1998 as a San Jose Shark probably saw him sitting on a chair outside the dressing room with his shirt (and sometimes pants) off, puffing away. Legend has it that Iafrate once bummed a cigarette off an Ottawa reporter between periods, lighting it up in his customary blowtorch blaze of glory.

While the number of smokers in today’s NHL has dwindled, you still hear/see evidence of it from time to time. Montreal goalie Carey Price has been spotted burning coffin nails (see here and here), Dion Phaneuf and Miikka Kiprusoff were caught while teammates in Calgary (pictured above) and Alex Semin was busted at the 2010 World Championships (see here).

In a similar vein, there are plenty of players that use chewing tobacco. Todd Bertuzzi seemingly can’t go anywhere without his chaw, but the most dip-friendly team might be the Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonas Gustavsson, Tyler Bozak and yes, even GM Brian Burke.)

Finally, there are the cigar aficionados. Former Tampa Bay Lightning teammates Stan Neckar and Dave Anderychuk have taken their love of stogies to the next level, co-founding a line of mobile cigar lounges.

“Me and Dave would always smoke cigars,” Neckar said of his playing days. “The day we won a Cup, we smoked lots of them.”

  1. tribesofneurot - Feb 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Fire It Up!!!!

  2. taytay099 - Feb 29, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    They must really regret smoking when they get caught on the ice for an extra long shift.

  3. meldboy - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Dave Anderychuk used to smoke cock when he played for the Buffalo Sabres.

    • vismund11 - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      This comment made me laugh out loud so hard. Thank you for that, hahaha. Made my night.

  4. mathieug79 - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    I even saw Steven Stamkos smoke in the St Pete times forum parking lot, with one of the St pete times forum worker.

  5. sportsfreak13 - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Its extremely difficult to quit products that contain nicotine. I myself quit chewing tobacco 23 days ago cold turkey and its rough. Playoff time will be a true test for myself.

  6. greatminnesotasportsmind - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    who cares, this is a non-story. lots of players smoke that we don’t even know about. it was long rumored the former wild captain sean o’donnell smokes. as long as they perform on the ice, it shouldn’t be a talker. unless of course they are smoking the wacky tobaccy or crack then that is a whole different can of worms.

    • nogoodtomedead - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      Wacky tobaccy? Are you worried they might get the reefer madness and go on an uncontrollable raping spree?

  7. lapsncaps - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Throughout my time playing hockey, from mites all the way through college, I was on teams where people were dipping since pee-wee travel, i didnt start until a few years later, but from people i know who have had the chance to play at higher levels, dip and snuff is a bigger issue than the cancer sticks (people did smoke just not as many). All the lax players did too. It was just part of the culture.

  8. atwatercrushesokoye - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Kipper is a notorious smoker, I’m sure most Flames fans here in Calgary have heard stories about how they have to find places in the visiting arenas for him to go smoke inbetween periods.

  9. hanktheking - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Mikka Kipprusoff smokes like a chimney

  10. blomfeld - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:42 PM


    Both the writer of this article and his intended audience are all, for lack of a better term, complete suck holes ! I have far greater respect for the minority of smoking athletes today, than I do for the majority of these new-age goofs who are hooked on “today’s” vice, including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Apps, etc … or mental “insanity” if you will. Guy Lafleur used to smoke in between periods at the Forum … and Vladislav Tretiak talked about Gerry Cheevers downing a beer in between periods during some heated series. That kind of stuff is cool and thank God it’s still in existence today ! What are we “cool” guys supposed to do ? Stay healthy and live to 110 years old, so that we can spend the last 30 years of our lives demented, while wearing a diaper and calling to a nurse for assistance ?

    • kitshky - Mar 1, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Of all your comments on PHT … this has to be the most idiotic one to date. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling anyone names, I’m saying you just typed in one of the ridiculous things I’ve ever read.

      Good call, let’s get these kids to stop “pollluting” themselves with all that twittering they do on that Facebook with their smart phone tables and get back to using the only product on the market today that when used exactly as the manufacture intends it to be used …it kills you. Cause you’re right “Cool Guy” … it’s cool.

  11. lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 2, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    I don’t know how those guys do it. Am I the only one who feels like they’re breathing through a pillow when you play hockey after a heater? Thank the Lord I finally stopped.

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