So a few months ago I wrote about a long-lost issue of Hockey Digest that featured an article that, I felt, set me on the path to writing hockey-based romance novels/being a general thirsty mess.
Well, guess what? My wonderful friend Johnathan Munroe managed to track down a copy of this very Hockey Digest issue, which is impressive because I wasn't at all sure what issue it was, or even what year it came out. My best guess was 1992 or 1993. Turns out, it was June/July 1993, which makes sense because summer is when hockey magazines are desperate for content and might stoop so low as to start rating the super hunks.
I mis-remembered a lot of things about this fantastic piece of journalism. For one, I thought it had been written by two or three female hockey writers who went on the record with their names and everything. Nope and nope. It was, in fact, written by superstar hockey writer Stan Fischler. In his introduction to the piece, he explains that "suddenly" hockey players are being admired for their "beefcake as their backchecking" and that almost "ten percent" of hockey fans are women.
Okay, Stan. Let me stop you right there.
Ten percent. Ten. TEN??? How was this even measured?? Secondly, I'm going to drop a little science on you, Stanley: hockey players have ALWAYS been ogled. And here's the bigger bombshell: some of the people ogling the hockey players weren't in the ten percent, if you know what I'm saying.
Anyway, Stan put together an emergency panel to get to the bottom of this new phenomenon of pro athletes being considered physically attractive. His panel consisted of three anonymous women who were "closely connected with the league from a broadcasting standpoint."
I one hundred percent believe that this panel was real, and that Stan Fischler himself didn't just open his running Wordperfect list of hockey hunks and turn it into some easy summer content.
But enough build-up, let's get to the HUNKS!
The list should count down from 13 to 1 (why 13??) but it doesn't. It starts at the top and the top is Jeff Brown, who was then playing for St Louis. The "panel" of "women" go so far as to call him the "best looking guy on Earth."
I do recall Jeff Brown being a total dish. He had some fierce eyebrows and a jaw you could slice prosciutto with. I was, in particular, a big fan of this hockey card:
So, yes. Jeff Brown probably was the hottest man in the NHL at the time. He had some bad nineties hair under that helmet, but they all did.
Number two on the list was Shayne Corson, followed by Stephane Richer and Mathieu Schneider, so Habs and ex-Habs had a good showing in the top tier of this list. I was quite in love with Mathieu Schneider in my youth. He was an intoxicating blend of French-Canadian and New York Jewish. He seemed all French but was actually American, with a blinding smile and eyebrows that were almost too much, but were still perfect.
The "panel of women" simply described him as "cute smile, neat eyebrows" and somehow did not mention the thick pelt of chest hair that one could take a nap in.
Next on their list was Owen Nolan, who, despite having one the best hockey names ever, looked like a pot roast and I disagree with his inclusion here.
Number six is Brendan Shanahan, who kept it tight until he retired (and beyond). He's more "cute" than "hot", but I seem to recall he was more fashionable than most hockey players. Funny, too.
Number seven is Bret Hedican, and I was like "Brett Who-dican"? Stan, or whoever, describes him as having a "good, all-American look".
If the All-American look is having eyes that are very far apart. I just looked him up and he has been married to Kristi Yamaguchi since 2000??? And he's a television analyst for the San Jose Sharks broadcasts. Good job, Bret!
Next is Sean Hill, and then Joe Sakic and his "beautiful eyes". Then Scott Stevens, who I've always thought looked like he was built in a lab. Not necessarily in a hot way. More in a "perfect killing machine" way.
Number eleven is Rock Tocchet, who is bizarrely described as "Physical, nasty player who speaks his mind...cute." Number twelve is Zarley Zalapski, who actually died this past December, so that's kind of a bummer. Rouding out the list at thirteen is Craig Simpson, who is described as having a "Good personality with a nice smile," which is how I was described by my much hotter friends in high school. Anyway, Craig Simpson is a Hockey Night in Canada commentator now, so he's kind of come out on top here.
This list is kind of bullshit. For one thing, there are exactly zero Europeans on this list. That is just dumb.
Even more confusing: After the top thirteen are listed, there are some individual categories. Example: Best lips is awarded to Steve Yzerman. Why isn't Steve on the list? And where is Chris Chelios?? (Stan actually does mention the crime of omitting Chelios at the end, even calling him "the sexiest guy of all" and "the Greek God of the Chicago Stadium". Damn right).
Chelios also had a reputation for being the fittest guy in the NHL (and possibly in the universe), and stayed that way until he retired at age 48(!!!) and is probably STILL the fittest person.
If you would like to read the full piece, I have it scanned below. It is extremely tame by today's standards, but is still written with such a strong tone of "ohmygosh this is soooo naughty of us!". It's pretty wild.
I mean, the fact that the women, if they existed, actually refused to be named says a lot about hockey culture at the time. This is what I was saying in my original post: this dumb fluff piece changed my life. It gave me permission to openly appreciate hockey players for their looks as much as for their stats.
So thank you, Stan. If you are still alive, I would love to get mojitos and come up with a current top thirteen list with you.