This list of celebrity hockey players will surprise you, among them the recently departed Alan Thicke
By Warren Tabachnick
The sport we love isn’t just for average Joes like you and me. It seems there are many well-known persons—both male and female, past and present—who’ve laced up their skates for a fast-paced game of hockey.
As you might have guessed, a good number of celebrity hockey players who played hockey in school come from the Great White North. But there are several individuals—from the US and elsewhere—that you’d never imagine are former ice hockey players who spent at least some of their childhoods playing the puck, either recreationally or with their local or school teams.
Of this group of luminaries are those who like to show off their love of the game, either through their movies, TV shows (think David Boreanaz of the popular TV crime drama Bones), or music (Five for Fighting). And then there are those who don’t exactly clamor to tell the world they play: Canadian singers Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne played in their younger days. And, believe it or not, even Paris Hilton took to the ice with her high school team. And of course, no list of celebrity hockey players would be complete without mention of Alan Thicke.
Here are 36 celebrity hockey players who have at one time or another lace them up for a game of hockey. While by no means a complete list, some of these names might surprise you:
Richard Dean Anderson (USA; Minneapolis, Minn.); TV actor, producer, composer — Best known for his role in the TV show MacGyver. Like many kids who grew up in Minnesota, Anderson dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player. His dreams were dashed, however, when at the age of 16 he broke both arms (in separate accidents three weeks apart) while playing in high school hockey games. He still harbors a deep love for the sport.
Scott Bakula (USA; St. Louis, Mo.); actor — Currently portrays Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride in the TV show NCIS: New Orleans. While growing up, Bakula would play hockey when it was cold enough to freeze the ponds in the woods behind his house.
Adam Baldwin (USA; Winnetka, Ill.); actor — Known for his role in the Vietnam movie Full Metal Jacket, Baldwin frequently participates in celebrity hockey games.
Barenaked Ladies (Canada; Scarborough, Ont.); musicians — Singers of the hit song “One Week,” as well as the theme song for the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. According to band member Ed Robertson, “All the Canadians in L.A. play hockey together. All the actors and all the comedians and stuff have organized hockey leagues and they play in Los Angeles.”
Justin Bieber (Canada; London, Ont.); singer/songwriter — Say what you will about him, this dude can skate. Need further proof? Watch it here in this video:
David Boreanaz (USA; Buffalo, NY); actor, producer, director — Known for his role as the vampire Angel in the supernatural drama series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and as FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth in the television crime drama Bones. Growing up in Buffalo, he wishes he’d played hockey then but he never got the chance. He’s been playing for close 10 years now, on and off. And when he’s not at his son’s 6 am travel hockey practices on a Saturday or a game that starts at 8 am on a Sunday, Boreanaz plays pickup hockey with a bunch of guys that includes some other celebrities.
Jerry Bruckheimer (USA; Detroit, Mich.); film and television producer — Bruckheimer has had his share of power plays, both as a Hollywood dealmaker and hockey player. He is behind some of the best-known shows on TV, such as the CSI series, Cold Case, and The Amazing Race. His movie credits include Beverly Hills Cop, Flashdance, Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Black Hawk Down, and Pearl Harbor. Many Hollywood types and former NHLers play in his puck posse, and he scrimmages at least once a week.
Michael Bublé (Canada; Burnaby, BC); singer/songwriter — Bublé has won several awards during his illustrious career, including four Grammys and multiple Junos. Growing up, he had a strong passion for ice hockey and often played in his youth. Bublé wanted to play professionally for the Vancouver Canucks but believed he was not good at it, saying: “I wanted so bad to be a hockey player… If I was any good at hockey, I probably wouldn’t be singing right now.”
Steve Carell (USA; Concord, Mass.); actor, comedian, director, producer, writer — After a five-year stint on TV’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Carell found greater fame by portraying Michael Scott in The Office. He’s also starred in such hit movies as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine, and portrayed John Dupont in the film Foxcatcher. Carell was 8 years old when he and all of his friends started playing hockey, and later played goalie for the Denison University hockey team. He still plays today, in a rec league in Orange County, Calif.
Jim Carrey (Canada; Newmarket, Ont.); actor, comedian, impressionist, screenwriter, film producer — Known for his hilarious turn in the Dumb and Dumber film series, as well as in The Cable Guy and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective movies, Carrey once shared in an interview that when he played hockey growing up, he got the most penalty minutes in a game… which sounds great, but unfortunately he was the goalie.
David Alan Coulier (USA; St. Clair Shores, Mich.); standup comedian, actor, impressionist, TV host — Coulier is best known for the role of Joey Gladstone on the ABC’s sitcom Full House. He was a member of his high school varsity hockey team, playing defense alongside future NHL player John Blum. “I was always a jock growing up, played a lot of hockey in Detroit,” he says. “I was always the funny guy in the locker room and when you got 20 guys sitting around, you have a captive audience. So I would just do impressions of teammates, or coaches, or guys that we knew and that’s kinda how I started [in show business].” Coulier continues to play hockey today.
Rick Dorfman (USA; Brooklyn, NY); manager and producer; owner of Converge Media Group (a full-service management and production company specializing in comedy acts) — “My father took me to a [New York] Rangers game and I fell in love immediately,” says Dorfman. “He asked me if I wanted to play and found the closest rink, which was 45 minutes away from my home. Every Saturday we’d get up at 4 in the morning, drive to the rink, and I’d play my game. Then we’d go to the same diner and discuss the game over breakfast.” At age 15 he played Junior hockey, and his goal was to play Division I. “I stupidly decided to stop playing after not getting Division I interest,” he laments. “I didn’t pick up the game again until I moved to New York City five or six years later. I’ve been playing in the men’s leagues ever since.”
Off the ice, Dorfman has managed the careers of several well-known comedians, such as JB Smoove, Artie Lange, Jim Brewer, Judy Gold, Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane and many others. His company also produces television and film, including Four Courses with JB Smoove, an Emmy-nominated show for the MSG network. “It’s amazing how many people in the entertainment world play ice hockey,” he adds. “I’ve met scores of people, from managers, agents, and network executives to celebrities. It’s an amazing alternative way of networking for business.”
Boomer Esaison (USA; West Islip, NY); former NFL quarterback, current sports color commentator — Both Esiason and his son Gunnar are teammates on their New York City-area rec hockey team, the Wasps. He says his lifelong obsession with the New York Rangers only gets worse with age.
Michael J. Fox (Canada; Edmonton, AB); actor, author, producer, advocate — Fox’s numerous appearances on both TV and film range from his role as Alex in Family Ties, to the Back to the Future trilogy. He has won numerous Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Hailing from Canada, Fox struggled in school and was too small—he’s 5′4″—to compete in his favorite activity, ice hockey. Through the years he has been unabashed about his love for hockey. Every chance he gets he looks to combine his twin loves of acting and hockey.
Tom Glavine (USA; Concord, Mass.); former MLB pitcher — Glavine once played professional hockey—and we mean, once. He signed on for one day to play with the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. He took part in the pregame warmups, and even took the opening faceoff before promptly leaving the ice and never playing professionally again. As we said, he played once: one shift, and literally one second. At his MLB Hall of Fame induction, Glavine also noted that he was drafted to play hockey by the Los Angeles Kings.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (USA; Bronx, NY); actor — Best known for portraying Rod Tidwell in the movie Jerry Maguire, as well as for his role in Snow Dogs. Gooding is an avid hockey player and has a rink in his back yard, and scrimmages with Jerry Bruckheimer and other celebs.
Paris Hilton (USA; New York City); socialite, TV personality, model, actress, singer, DJ, author — Although it’s been said she could barely skate, Hilton did manage to play hockey while she was a student at Canterbury School, a Connecticut prep school.
Guy Kawasaki (USA; Honolulu, HI); business guru, ex-marketing brain at Apple — Kawasaki’s personal passion: ice hockey. He started playing about 10 years ago after his wife insisted he take up some form of exercise. Most days, the otherwise laid-back Kawasaki can be found in helmet and pads, crashing the boards and shooting one-timers in pickup games at a Redwood City, Calif., rink. Kawasaki jokes that he’s the “best 58-year-old Hawaiian playing hockey.” Read more…